Foto: Bob van Gemen

‘A rotterdam health technology campus is now more crucial than ever before’

The corona crisis has emphasised Life Sciences & Health 010’s vital importance, with the Erasmus MC as the beating heart of this acute care in the Netherlands. Ellen Perik, the municipality of Rotterdam’s Life Sciences & Health Development Manager, is proud of the city’s drive and innovation.

The coronavirus has put our healthcare system in the spotlight. What do you see when you look at life sciences & health 010?

Perik: ‘Enormous drive where patient care and creating solutions are concerned. Rotterdam is an innovative city and this crisis has certainly served to accelerate the development the sector is experiencing. And it’s obviously great to see how the Erasmus MC has risen to the challenge of taking on the leading role in the acute care received by corona patients in the Netherlands.’

The erasmus mc, the erasmus university rotterdam and the tu delft announced their intention to open the first health technology campus in the netherlands at the start of this year. the corona crisis has made this step more important than ever before.

‘If we have learnt anything from this crisis, it’s the fact that technology is absolutely crucial to its management and coming up with the ultimate solution. Life Sciences & Health 010 has already distinguished itself from other top universities with its very strong medical and technical education and research. And the collaboration between these three big universities had obviously already started developing. But the campus truly is next level, an incredible boost. Rotterdam innovation – that is certainly something many more new applications in healthcare can identify with in the future. On a global scale.’ 

A great calling card.

‘Absolutely. The full integration of medical and technological education and research is the most important route towards creating future-proof healthcare. When combined with our groundbreaking innovation climate, this broad vision will undoubtedly result in many more appropriate solutions to health issues. And this is already evident in Rotterdam, with fantastic companies like Quantib, Le Quest and Sensius.’

Data plays an essential role in the fight against the coronavirus. What does rotterdams data landscape look like?

‘We have an excellent digital infrastructure and this is something we’ll continue to invest in. Barbara Kathmann, our Economy vice mayor, wants to develop the Netherlands’ second data centre area here, including the realisation of a distinctive and reliable health data hub. This will offer plenty of opportunities to companies and allow us to realise a smooth transition to personalised healthcare. The corona crisis has actually already highlighted these opportunities. Just look at the major added value which the intensive working relationships between medical centres, the reuse of medical data and the careful application of algorithms represent.’

The corona measures have accelerated the use of e-health, with video calls being the most visible example.

‘There has been a huge increase in the use of care technology and digital skills by care professionals in just a few weeks. Blended care is now well and truly up and running. Face-to-face consultations and treatment will continue to form the basis in the future, but digital assistance will definitely play an important role too. Rotterdam will continue to invest in innovations among healthcare providers, for example through the introduction of health innovation schools.’

Life sciences & health 010 was first created five years ago, following discussions with all players in the sector. What do they need in order to realise growth?

‘Top education and research, with young and diverse talent. International orientation, making sure any applications are both scalable and viable. Additional support with settlement, finance, development and with internationalisation. Plus a strong network and access to important sector parties. We have managed to realise all of this within Life Sciences & Health 010 on a step by step basis, with our own events too.’

Can you provide a few examples?

‘Life without our network breakfasts is now simply no longer conceivable, popular with literally everyone in the sector. We also organise themed meetings twice a year, especially for medical-technical companies. For example about healthcare finance, with a health insurer. Incredibly valuable, these kinds of issues would otherwise not quickly get discussed. We are currently talking to these companies too, about the impact the corona crisis has had on them. One particularly striking aspect: their incredible desire to contribute to working towards solutions to this crisis.’

Why is rotterdam the ultimate city for entrepreneurs and companies who want to move forward in healthcare?

‘You’ll instantly end up in an incredibly active community with Life Sciences & Health 010, as so much is happening here already. With a number of surprising collaborations too - we dare to experiment in Rotterdam, resulting in the right doors opening up for you. You can count on support whilst settling and there are programmes available to you which have been especially created for the phase your company currently finds itself in. Plus plenty of exposure too. Life sciences & health is one of the city's most important sectors. And this is only going to get stronger with time. With the campus at the Erasmus Medical Centre and with the growing number of medical and health technology companies deciding to settle or being created in the city. Rotterdam is going to serve as the springboard for the international healthcare impact. The importance of our global outlook is going to become even clearer during these times of crisis.’

Ellen Perik

Life science & health 010

The Life Science & Health business climate has turned Rotterdam into an excellent location for working closely together with a strong and multidisciplinary network: in order to develop and grow together and as individuals and as a community and company.

Ellen Perik is the life sciences & health development manager within the municipality of Rotterdam’s Economy department.