Karnataka and The Netherlands – Partnering for Living Lab on Healthcare

Bengaluru, December 1, 2018 : Life Sciences and Healthcare is a priority sector under bilateral collaboration between India and the Netherlands. The Healthcare sector in India is growing at a fast pace because of increase in insurance penetration, growth in services and increasing expenditure by public as well as private players. Growing market opportunities in India, combined with the Netherlands’ strengths in areas such as Therapeutics & Vaccines, Diagnostics, Medtech and E-Health create excellent opportunities for partnerships that address shared societal challenges with smart solutions. Making India, a valuable partner for the Dutch Life Sciences & Healthcare Sector.

The affordability and accessibility of healthacre remains at the core of of partnerships between Indian and the Dutch stakeholders. In 2016, The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)/The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research & Development (ZonMW) and Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India launch a joint call for proposals on the theme ‘Technology for a Sustainable Healthcare: Minimally invasive techniques’. The joint call has resulted in funding of three Indo-Dutch projects that are dedicated to developing sustainable healthcare systems. Two of these projects are from consortium partners in Bangalore, who are also involved in another initiative between the Government of Karnataka, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) & Taskforce for Applied Research (SIA) called Living Lab.

Living Lab :  RVO, SIA and Govt. of Karnataka signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) during the visit of Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade, Sigrid Kaag and Dutch Minister for Medical Care, Bruno Bruins to Bangalore in May 2018 to set up Living Lab in Bangalore with the objective to ‘improve access to affordable healthcare via means of eHealth& medical devices’. Living Lab is a growing ecosystem that connects government, industry and academia to co-create innovative solutions for shared societal challenges.

In the Bengaluru Tech Summit (BTS) from 29th Nov to 1st Dec, the Netherlands is partnering with the Govt. of Karnataka as a ‘Technology Partner’ bringing in Dutch experts from a number of fields such as Healthcare, IT and cyber security. After the LoI was signed in May 2018, three pilot projects were jointly selected for co-funding opportunities.

Joint Projects : The following three projects will be pitched to stakeholders from academic institutes, hospitals, IT, med-tech companies, start-ups etc. for partnership in the Netherlands’ Health-tech session organized during BTS on 30th November.

  1. Development of Generic tool box to create Health Literacy application for the use in India and the Netherlands (Current partners: Manipal University in collaboration with Maastricht University Medical Centre, MUMC)
  2. Point of Care tool for fast diagnosis of e.g. Urinary Tract Infection (Current partners: MUMC in collaboration with Brightlands, Manipal University, TCS & EHE Innovations)
  3. A framework for identification of biomarkers for mass screening of population at risk of development of neurodegenerative disorders (Current partners:  M.S. Ramaiah Institute of Technology in collaboration with MUMC and potential partners include TU Delft & Bosch)

In the coming months, the two sides will also explore opportunities for student exchange under the three joint projects to begin research work. Centre for Human Genetics (CHG), which is the anchor institute for Living Lab in Bengaluru will assist the process, together with Nuffic Netherlands Education Support Office (NESO) in Bangalore and Taskforce for Applied Research (SIA) in the Netherlands. “In India and the Netherlands alike there is a need for more research and innovation to serve society in a more direct manner. The Dutch Universities of Applied Sciences do that by involving education and regional partners from the very beginning. Our students and regional partners can benefit greatly from working with Indian eHealth and ICT solutions. It is exciting to see the Living Lab provide a platform for knowledge exchange between students, researchers and regional partners from India and the Netherlands,” said  Eras Draaijers, Programme Manager, Taskforce for Applied Research (SIA).

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. GertHeijkoop, Consul-General of the kingdom of the Netherlands in Bangalore said “The state of Karnataka is a valuable partner for the Netherlands, especially in innovation ecosystems. After the MoU was signed between The Hague and the state of Karnataka in 2016, the two sides have worked diligently over the last few years in building partnerships for societal impact. Living Lab is one such example, which we believe will result in creating affordable solutions for sustainable healthcare in both India as well as the Netherlands”.

Gaurav Gupta, Principal Secretary, Department of IT & BT welcomed the Dutch delegation and said that, “In 2017, the size of the Indian health-care sector was estimated at $160 billion, and is projected to grow to $372 billion by 2023.  As the sector grows, it becomes imperative to encourage innovation and R&D in healthcare, while also ensuring that challenges of efficient distribution and delivery of healthcare services are mitigated. Digital transformation of the sector using new and emerging technologies such as IoT, cloud services and wearable devices, would play a key role in addressing these challenges. Government of Karnataka is delighted to participate in “Living Lab” programme between India and The Netherlands as this type of international collaboration is a much required step for transformation of the healthcare sector.”

“The affordability and accessibility of healthcare is a theme where our countries have excellent opportunities for innovation partnerships. Public private partnerships focused on research, innovation and implementation are key to unlock affordable solutions to healthcare challenges the world faces today. India is an important partner for the Netherlands in this respect”, says  Niels van Leeuwen, Senior Advisor International R&D Cooperation, Life Sciences & Health, Netherlands Enterprise Agency.

The representative from Manipal University, Dr. Sanjay Pattanshetty, Associate Professor, Prasanna School of Public Health, shared his excitement saying, “We, at Manipal Academy of Higher Education, are excited about our participation in this unique challenge(s) driven initiative that aims at bridging existing gaps in the healthcare industry. We have not only been able to expand our network through this initiative but have conceptualised some interesting projects that we are looking forward to initiate”.

Maastricht University Medical Centre+ (Maastricht UMC+) from the Netherlands is another committed partner in Bangalore and specifically in the Living Lab initiative. “During the last 10 years Maastricht UMC+ has developed an extensive network for research collaborations with institutes in the Bangalore area. With our Indian partners we have performed many interesting studies. We believe that the Living Lab will allow us to take these collaborations to a next level”, said Dr. Dorine Collijn, Senior Policy Advisor in the Research Office of Maastricht UMC+.

Photo Caption :  (L to R) Shri Raj Kumar Srivastava, Advisor for Govt. of Karnataka & IT, BT & ST ,   Michel Rademaker, Department Director, Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, Marten Van Den Berg, Ambassador of Netherland to India, Gert Heijkoop, Consul General of Netherland Bengaluru,  Niels Van Leeuwen, Netherlands Enterprise Agency (Ministry of Economic Affairs).

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