Networking for innovation
The Medicon Valley Alliance (MVA) Oncology Network is a forum linking academia and industry working in cancer in Denmark and Sweden. The Oncology Network is hosted by the MVA, a Danish-Swedish networking organisation with 245 members based in the Medicon Valley biocluster in Greater Copenhagen.
The Medicon Valley Alliance (MVA) Oncology Network aims to create links between Danish and Swedish biopharma and healthcare companies and academic researchers across oncology, creating a forum for discussions and problem solving. It was created by Professor Carl Borrebaeck, director of CREATE Health at Lund University, and professor and entrepreneur Nils Brünner of the University of Copenhagen.
"The network grew out of discussions about the idea of a Medicon Valley-based translational cancer centre," explained Borrebaeck. "We have a lot of high-level cancer research in our region, and we wanted to encourage scientists to work together. The network aims to focus on best practice, experience and current challenges for public-private collaboration and commercialisation. "
Growing and innovating through networking
The networking meetings, which happen between three and four times a year, gather together senior people in academia, industry and healthcare at venues that alternate between Denmark and Sweden. The network is around 60% companies and 40% academia, providing both commercial experience and academic knowledge. The first meeting was held in September 2016, and involved over 40 organisations. The most recent meeting was in May 2017, and was hosted by Medeon Science Park & Incubator and Copenhagen Bio Science Park (COBIS), with a theme of clinical trials.
"We aim to keep the networking sessions pragmatic, practical and results-orientated. We want them to focus on challenges and their potential solutions," said Borrebaeck. "We also invite top-level executives, to bring along their expertise. The meeting in January 2017 included a presentation from Jan van de Winkel, the CEO at Genmab."
The networking time and space provided by the MVA Oncology Network meetings has acted as a catalyst to get people talking with each other and working together, according to Borrebaeck, and so one of the short-term goals has already been achieved.
"In the longer term, the relationships that are created between the organisations could be the first step towards a translational cancer centre," Borrebaeck adds.
Oncology as a strength in the Medicon Valley
Cancer research is one of the strengths in the Medicon Valley region, based on the thriving research community at Lund University and other academic centres in the region, and the wealth of spinouts catalysed by academia and bioincubators.
"This has become a very vibrant area, and the spinouts attract a lot of interest and a lot of venture capital to the region," said Borrebaeck. There are tremendous opportunities for innovation in the Medicon Valley, and there is also funding available. We want to link people together so that they can make the most of these prospects."
CREATE Health is a translational cancer centre. It has been based at Medicon Village for around five years and is a multidisciplinary collaboration involving four faculties. The center was set up by Borrebaeck and his colleagues in 2005 in order to help the transition of research from bench to bedside. CREATE Health has been the source of a number of spinoff companies, such as Immunovia AB.