Reflections on innovation and transfer to market in the COVID-19 environment
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The situation we are currently experiencing with the pandemic coronavirus is making us see how our work has changed in 24 hours. As an innovation unit we continue to carry out innovative projects and support the innovation ecosystem, but now, in a very different situation. In this international emergency environment, the evaluation of new ideas, and the development and implementation of innovative solutions cannot take 3 years, instead they need to be ready in 15 days. All the innovation stakeholders are aligning to make this possible. In this regard, companies are now directly coming to us seeking for immediate healthcare knowledge, while in a normal environment we are the ones looking for companies with a high innovative spirit in order to partner with them.
For the first time we are really putting the patient at the center of the system, and all the agents are working together for the development of quick and effective solutions. The rest matters little!
By our own professional drift, we continue to analyze the possibilities of protecting the innovations that we are developing these days, and we are experiencing first-hand the facilities and difficulties that suddenly appear to favor the achievement of the final goal, controlling the pandemic with as few deaths as possible.
This experience has made you reflect as a Unit on some aspects that we want to share and discuss with you:
- The increase of public-private collaborations. We have been talking for years about the importance of public-private collaboration, but a pandemic has shown us that there is no barrier to materialize it, and that everything flows automatically seamlessly. Regardless of whether it is a company, a research institution or university, we have started again to shake hands and trust each other.
- The streamlining of regulatory processes. In a pandemic situation the regulatory process has been demonstrated to be more efficient. We wonder if regulatory processes really need to be that tedious, long, and complicated, or instead they could be streamlined somehow. At the same time, we have detected the need to adapt these processes to new trends, facilitating the marketing of products. In this regard, rapid manufacturing with other materials or techniques, custom products, and additive manufacturing, that are already part of our present, need to be resolved in terms of regulation for final consumption and not only for prototyping.
- The lack of a local industrial network, provider of medical equipment and material. The industrial offshoring of the last decades has made us realize the enormous level of dependence we have on foreign providers. Is the pandemic an opportunity to build part of this manufacturing industry in the country? Can this industry be supported by governments?
- An opportunity to capitalize on all the innovations arising during the pandemic period. We are witnessing an avalanche of projects to discover new diagnostic kits, new healthcare equipment, new drugs or new applications over existing ones. We wonder what the result of all this will be. We see the current situation as an opportunity to join forces and develop really good products that will provide valid solutions to the problem, and at the same time will contribute to the creation of a local health industry.
- The awareness of the importance of research and innovation. We need to invest more money in science and innovation, not only during emergency situations like the one we are currently dealing with, but on a regular basis. We have seen governments to open express calls to fund projects aimed at finding solutions to the pandemic. We have seen how science and innovation are the answer to the current situation. We have also found the importance of having the knowledge to analyze epidemiological data in order to predict how the pandemic will behave in the near future. In conclusion, only having a powerful scientific community we will obtain a solution to the current situation.
- The humanization of hospitals. Now more than ever, the importance of considering this aspect in health care is becoming clear. For some years now we have been working on humanization projects and we believe that the pandemic has made this need more visible. The experience of the patient during his hospitalization needs to be as comfortable and endearing as possible, so that he feels accompanied at all times and in a friendly environment.
This article has been written by Gloria Palomar and Xavi Gallego
I am currently the Head of Innovation and Business Development at Fundació Parc Taulí. Since I finished my bachelor's degree in Biology I was working as a scientist in several research institutes. I got my PhD in neuroscience at the Center for Genomic Regulation and then I moved to Colorado for a postdoc at the Institute for Behavioral Genetics. After moving back to Barcelona I decided I wanted to quit the lab and start working on helping other researchers to transform basic research into new and useful healthcare applications for the society. I consider myself an entrepreneur and open-minded person, always thinking on new solutions to solve problems in the healthcare field.All stories by: Xavier Gallego
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