No longer refer to BioHealth Cluster, but HealthTech Cluster. Illustrating the ever-increasing importance of new technologies in the medical sphere, the Luxinnovation cluster dedicated to the medical innovation industry has adapted its official name in 2019.
Digitalisation, artificial intelligence, augmented reality… The health sector is not to be outdone when it comes to new technologies. In addition, with a very dynamic ecosystem, Luxembourg has a lot to say on the subject.
According to the latest figures presented this Monday at the Health Technologies @ Luxembourg 2020 event, the economic contribution of the health technology sector amounts to some 180 million euros of added value, i.e. 0.35% of GDP (data for 2017). “There are now 136 companies developing health technologies in Luxembourg”, adds Jean-Philippe Arié, the manager of the Luxembourg HealthTech Cluster. “They represent some 1,600 employees, 80% of which are active in structures with no more than 10 employees and 32 of these structures are specialised in digital technologies.”
The success of Fit 4 Start
This mapping was an update of the first one, published in January 2019, which was the first highlight of the past year for the Luxembourg HealthTech Cluster. “Our idea is to update this data on an annual basis,” explains Mr Arié. “It will serve as a basis not only to enable us to best monitor the sector and measure its growth, but also to best adjust public policy.
The presence of more than 140 participants at this 2020 edition of Health Technologies @ Luxembourg shows how much interest in the subject is growing.
This was already evident when the Fit 4 Start acceleration programme was opened to the HealthTech sector. Already at the end of 2018, during the autumn edition (Fit 4 Start #7), 38 start-ups active in health technologies had applied for this programme. They were 60 for the Fit 4 Start #9 in the autumn of 2019. “In a very short period of time, the ‘HealthTech’ component has established itself as one of the pillars of this programme, along with ICT. I’m already looking forward to other exciting projects for the September edition,” says Jean-Philippe Arié.
The beginning of the year is particularly dynamic. The health sector will be one of those that will be highlighted during the economic mission that will take place from 27 to 29 January in Dubai. It is taking place in parallel with the Arab Health trade fair, which will welcome more than 4,250 exhibitors from more than 60 countries and receive more than 106,000 visitors.
A visit to this exhibition is on the programme of the Luxembourg delegation, which will also visit King’s College Hospital in Dubai.
Crossing the regulatory threshold
The year 2020 should also mark the passing of the law establishing a National Agency for Medicines and Health Products, in the form of a public establishment. This future agency will make it possible to manage the potential risks that certain medicines, medical devices and other health products (cosmetic products, food supplements, etc.) may pose to public health and will therefore guarantee a better level of health safety for all health products throughout their life cycle (before, during and after they are placed on the market).
This creation is also part of a special agenda, since from 26 May, the regulation on medical devices will enter into force throughout the European Union. This text implies new obligations for companies and covers more products, including certain non-medical devices (such as cosmetic or aesthetic products).
“The forthcoming change can, in some cases, be very radical for existing companies. It will therefore be necessary to anticipate the possible additional costs generated by these new provisions in order to overcome this regulatory hurdle, or even turn it into a competitive advantage”, explains Mr Arié.
The train has left the station and there is no stopping it: “Digital tools in medical practice and artificial intelligence in medical research will be two major pillars of innovation in the sector in the near future. Our cluster is helping to ensure that the entire ecosystem works together to establish Luxembourg as a reference in this field. Success depends on the involvement of all players. This means that hospitals, public research centres, the State and industry are all involved”.