PRESS RELEASE – Sherbrooke Innopole is multiplying its international partnerships in life sciences: the economic development agency of the City of Sherbrooke has announced the ratification of a memorandum of understanding with LifeTech, in Belgium, and the renewal of its partnership with Medicon Village AB, in Sweden. The agreements were signed as part of the 2nd Sherbrooke International Life Sciences Summit (SILS), in the presence of the Consul general of Belgium in Montréal, Hubert Roisin, and the Ambassador of Sweden to Canada, Per Sjögren.
Per Sjögren, Ambassador of Sweden in Canada, Ursula Hultkvist Bengtsson, Executive Vice-Présidente of Medicon Village, Pierre Tremblay, President of the Board of directors at Sherbrooke Innopole, Robert Pouliot, Deputy Mayor of the City of Sherbrooke, Bert Op’t Eijnde, Vice-President of LifeTech, and Hubert Roisin, Consulate General of Belgium in Montréal
The objective of the three-year collaboration agreement with LifeTech is to reinforce and facilitate cooperation between the stakeholders of the life sciences and healthcare ecosystems – businesses, research centres, universities, and hospitals – in Sherbrooke, throughout Québec, and in Limburg, Belgium.
“Flanders, the northern region of Belgium is well known for its thriving life sciences and pharma sectors. Our research centers are world class and their collaboration with both national and international companies has created a unique ecosystem. The MOU signed today is another milestone of Flanders-Québec collaborations in life sciences,” noted Mr. Roisin.
In concrete terms, the two organizations agree to work together to identify and promote partnership opportunities in R&D, innovation, and marketing, attract investments in their respective areas, organize joint events, and host delegations as well as organizations wishing to develop oversea collaborations.
“This newly set up collaboration between LifeTech and Sherbrooke Innopole will definitely open opportunities for our companies and innovative research projects, possibly boost start-ups and stimulate the further development of our companies and their international growth,” eagerly noted Bert Op’t Eijnde, Vice-President of LifeTech.
“In the current context where the life sciences industry is extremely competitive and where, at the same time, boundaries are falling to allow for successful collaborations, Sherbrooke Innopole has every interest in forming alliances with other players on the international scene. This enables a mutual acceleration of the development and expansion of our networks,” said Pierre Tremblay, President of the Board of Directors at Sherbrooke Innopole. “Through these alliances, Sherbrooke researchers and entrepreneurs will be able to share their expertise and best practices in the field, thus extending their reach while also sharing them with their European collaborators.”
LifeTech is working to develop life sciences and medical technologies in the Belgian region of Limburg. It offers a diversified range of services: support in seeking research funding, infrastructure, and expertise; guidance; and access to business networks and projects. LifeTech is headquartered in the life sciences incubator BioVille located on the campus of Hasselt University, which is also home to a science park.
Sherbrooke Innopole offers guidance as well as technical and financial support to companies in five key sectors, including life sciences, for implementation, innovation, and expansion projects. The organization also strives to turn the knowledge and discoveries of both Sherbrooke universities into economic value. In addition to Sherbrooke’s University Pole, the city has an innovative business accelerator/incubator, Espace-INC, and two science parks recognized by the International Association of Science Parks, one of which is enjoying a strong synergy in life sciences, with access to all the components required for its growth: care, teaching, research, and business.
The Sherbrooke-Limburg partnership started on the right note: a Belgian delegation of 10 people is participating in SILS. Among them, the Belgium-based company Ontoforce took advantage of its presence in Sherbrooke to establish a business partnership with Immune Biosolutions. The young Sherbrooke company will have access to the scientific data search platform disQover, powered by semantic technologies, and will open up its antibody database.
“Thanks to this collaboration with Ontoforce, our team of antibody experts can tackle challenges faster and smarter than before and with a depth that would normally require the workforce of a whole R&D department. Putting it simply, it allows us to create better products to change the world now,” noted Frédéric Leduc, President of Immune Biosolutions.
Renewed partnership with Medicon Village
The agreement with LifeTech is the third international collaboration agreement in the Life Sciences key sector for Sherbrooke Innopole. Last January, the para-municipal corporation concluded a partnership with Life Sciences Hub Wales Ltd. in Wales. It will now use the opportunity presented by Sherbrooke International Life Sciences Summit to renew its collaboration agreement with the Swedish organization Medicon Village.
“Sherbrooke Innopole and Medicon Village are growing up together finding new ways to support our members and opening doors that we didn´t even know of before, says Ursula Hultkvist Bengtsson, Executive Vice President at Medicon Village. It is easier and more fun to create worldclass way of working with friends compared to only seeing competitors in every interaction. We have everything to gain in working together, both for the growth of our companies and the well-being of our populations.”
Established in Lund, Medicon Village is a complex dedicated to research, innovation, and business in the life sciences field. Covering a total of 80 000 m2 of leased space where researchers and entrepreneurs interact, and located near several research centres, the site is an ideal location for collaboration and innovation. More than 1100 people from 100 organizations work in the Village, seeking to improve the health and well-being of the population.
It should be recalled that the partnerships established in 2015 by Sherbrooke Innopole result from the initial agreement with Medicon Village, signed during the first edition of SILS in 2013. The Swedish organization then invited its international partners to the first Go Global meeting in September 2014. The goal of this annual meeting between all of Medicon Village’s partners is to enable them to discuss on their practices, visit research centres, and foster exchanges between the organizations and companies from their respective territories, where Go Global is taking place alternately. It was then that Sherbrooke Innopole met LifeTech and Life Sciences Hub Wales – whose Chief Operating Officer, Ian Barwick, visited Sherbrooke in May 2015.
This year, the Go Global event was held in Shebrooke, the day before the opening of Sherbrooke International Life Sciences Summit. It brought together some 50 participants from Québec and Europe: representatives from Sweden, Belgium, Wales, and Spain, a French delegation of 15 people led by Silver Valley, as well as Québec businesses and organizations. The participants visited the Research Centre on Aging, the Interdisciplinary Institute for Technological Innovation (3IT), and the accelerator/incubator Espace-INC, in addition to attending business presentations and a conference on financing international collaborations, as well as having networking opportunities.
During the first two years of the memorandum of understanding with Medicon Village, Sherbrooke Innopole also led a mission in Sweden, which resulted in negotiations that are still ongoing between Archimed Medical and a significant European player for the distribution of its products.
For Josée Blanchard, Director of Business Development for the Life Sciences and Micro-Nanotechnologies key sectors at Sherbrooke Innopole, the benefits from the collaboration agreements are likely to multiply in the medium term: “Most of our companies and our partners’ companies are at the start-up stage. We need to give them time to grow before being able to fully harness the benefits of this international network. Nevertheless, we can already observe relationships being developed and opportunities arising for our companies.”
Created in 2008, LifeTech is dedicated to supporting and fostering the development of the life sciences sector in the Limburg region, in Belgium. The organization is working to create links between the various stakeholders of the business, research, and government sectors through technical support and targeted initiatives. Its aim is to accelerate the development of new drugs and medical technologies that will improve people’s quality of life by enabling them to enjoy better and longer lives. Its offices are located in the BioVille life sciences incubator, on the campus of Hasselt University. www.lifetechlimburg.be
About Medicon Village
Medicon Village is a life science village for research, innovation and business. It is owned by the Mats Paulsson Foundation for research, innovation, and social development. The foundation’s surplus is reinvested into research and innovation. Members represent the complete value chain including researchers, clinicians, innovators, contractors, and businesses in the life sciences area. Academia as well as regional authorities and members of trade and industry are also on site. All work together under a single flag to create value for people’s health and wellbeing. www.mediconvillage.se
About Sherbrooke Innopole
Sherbrooke Innopole is the City of Sherbrooke’s economic development organization. Its mission is to ensure innovative, dynamic, and consistent economic growth by leveraging the start-up of companies that are the product of Sherbrooke research and ingenuity; by attracting new businesses; by supporting the expansion, innovation, and globalization efforts of existing manufacturers; by putting the multidisciplinary expertise of our team to good use; and by focusing on our five forward-looking key sectors: Life Sciences, Cleantech, Micro-Nanotechnologies, Information and Communication Technologies, and Advanced Manufacturing. www.sherbrooke-innopole.com
Sources: Sherbrooke Innopole, LifeTech and Medicon Village