German government promotes rapid innovation

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has set up a number of programs aimed at reducing “transfer” times. This is how long it takes for breakthroughs in basic research to come to benefit patients in the form of therapy.

Zwei Forscher im Labor

The BMBF puts the average amount of time it takes an innovation to get from the lab to medical application at around a decade. The ministry says this can be shortened by close networking and cooperation of researchers, regulatory authorities, care providers, and the healthcare industry. According to the BMBF, perfecting the links between all the processes and players involved can ensure that no time is lost in medical progress being applied to benefit people.

In shaping policy, the BMBF takes a human-centered approach to healthcare and medical research. It requires projects be aimed at meeting human needs, improving quality of life, and meeting the demands of work in hospitals and home care. Priority is also given to involving stakeholders, whether they are physicians, patients, pharmacists, and industry, including small and medium sized enterprises (SME).

SME form the backbone of the German economy, and some healthcare sectors in particular. One way the BMBF is helping SME is by providing clear, comprehensive information on the industrial and legal rules for product licensing. Another is by streamlining the bureaucracy involved in gaining approval for marketing.

Another program, Go-Bio initial, provides funding for developing ideas from the life sciences that have a clear potential for innovation. It is aimed at research team members and managers working on projects to identify and develop ideas for commercial exploitation with respect to “therapeutic agents” or “diagnostic reagents” in particular.

The Munich-based start-up ChromoTek, which was acquired last year by the US company Proteintech, is a Go-Bio success story. Go-Bio supported the founding team in the years it took the researchers to get their business up and running.

The system of “National Centers for Tumor Diseases (NCT)” is another tool for speeding transfer. The NCT has a number of locations around the country, including in Heidelberg. At the NCTs, the focus is on developing state-of-the-art treatments for cancer, including precision local therapy with image guidance and molecular stratification.

The export initiative for the German healthcare industry, HEALTH MADE IN GERMANY, is where to learn more about how government policy contributes to the country’s excellence in innovation and healthcare.