May 2019

Avicenna Monthly Newsletter 

Key highlights

  • Outcome of the European elections: MEP Sean Kelly is the sole returning ally.
  • The German Federal Ministry of Health announced that “digitalization/ big data/ artificial intelligence” will be the leading theme in health policies during the German Council Presidency (July-December 2020).
  • The DigitalHealthEurope project is launching a twinning scheme in June, providing almost €1 million for more than 45 twinnings.
  • ASME is organising a Webinar on 4 June to introduce its first verification and validation (V&V) standard for specific application to medical devices.
Policy Updates

European elections: time for new alliances 

European Parliament elections post-Brexit referendum were always going to be different than any other year in EU history. With a turnout at 50% - higher than at any time in the last 20 years, these elections featured a general rebuke of “establishment parties” with voters on every side of the political spectrum shunning major parties. 

Avicenna has traditionally found strong support from the European Parliament for the issue of CM&S funding and in promoting CM&S interests in policy and legislation. At EU level, Avicenna has a returning ally in the form of MEP Sean Kelly, who traditionally has supported Avicenna Activities. As expected, neither Lieve Wierinck or Nicola Caputo, also supporters of Avicenna managed reelection in Belgium or Italy.  

This new European Parliament will shape and influence our activities over the next 5 years in particularly in light of a new European Commission at the end of this year.  

This Parliament is rife with opportunity. The old topics of personalized medicine and big data (in their current narrative) will not withstand a new term. New topics are needed, new angles desired. New policy makes will not be content on carrying on the work of their predecessors and Avicenna will look to position itself as the Association that helps new MEPs build their political careers by reforming healthcare for the better. 

For the full analysis on the impact of the EU election on Avicenna Alliance, please contact the RPP Group.

JRC’s Work Programme for 2019-2020 adopted

On 8 May the European Commission has adopted the Joint Research Centre (JRC) work programme for 2019-2020 which runs under Horizon 2020, the current EU Framework Programme for funding research and innovation up to 2020.

In this year’s programme the JRC focuses on Better Regulation initiatives and will explore innovative approaches to improve policy, such as the Work Package 7722 to investigate on alternatives to animal testing (release date expected in December 2020). 

More generally, the JRC will support these initiatives with its expertise on modelling, data analysis, design of monitoring schemes and advice on the scientific and technical aspects of the feasibility and enforceability of limits and targets. For more information please consult the European Commission website.


Germany makes digitalisation a political priority

The German Federal Ministry of Health announced that “digitalisation/ big data/ artificial intelligence” will be the leading theme in health policies during the German Council Presidency (July-December 2020).

On 22 May 2019, the Ministry of Health has sent an exclusive letter to a small group of mainly healthcare players, inviting them to hand in ideas or specific projects which could be of interest for the upcoming German Council Presidency. This also includes the “associated program” since events organized by stakeholders and proven by the Federal Ministry of Health will be labeled with the logo of the German EU Council Presidency.

Moreover, the Federal Government and the Ministry of Health are in close contact with Portugal and Slovenia in order to decide on specific topics which should be dealt with longer. In autumn 2019, the Ministry will invite the respective healthcare players for further exchange after the Federal government has set the course.

WHO is establishing an advisory group in digital health

On 10 May, the World Health Organisation (WHO) released a news about the establishment of a roaster of experts in several digital health-related areas. The details on the application process are available online (deadline on 2 June).

This technical advisory group is being set up to support the newly established Digital Health Department, which works to harness the power of digital health technologies and steer developments to contribute to the attainment of all people to the highest level of health. For more information, the news release can be found on the WHO’s website.

Scientific and Regulatory News

Announcement of Next ERC President 

On 14 May, the European Commission appointed Professor Mauro Ferrari as next President of the European Research Council (ERC), taking office on 1 January 2020. ERC is the first European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. To date, the ERC has funded over 9,000 top researchers at various stages of their careers, and over 50,000 postdocs, PhD students and other staff working in their research teams. The ERC strives to attract top researchers from anywhere in the world to come to Europe. For the period of 2021-2027,€16.6 billion will be dedicated to the ERC.

Mr. Ferrari’s research interest focuses on the development of new technologies for healthcare applications like drug delivery and cancer therapeutics to improve efficacy in treatment and diagnosis.

The Lancet launches a new Journal in Digital Health 

The Lancet, one of the top medical journals, launches an important signal that digital health is truly becoming mainstream in medicine. Together with the New England Journal of Medicine, it has in fact started a new journal called “The Lancet Digital Health”. More information can be found at this link.

International News

China - Prospects of an Aspiring Innovation Leader

On 23 May, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) published a report assessing China's current position compared to the EU and US innovation systems across a range of dimensions. It analyses China's strategy to achieve a leadership role in international markets through a combination of industrial, research and innovation (R&I), trade and foreign direct investment (FDI) policies.

The report shows that China may soon attain innovation leadership in many areas, such as biopharmaceutical and high-performance medical devices, new materials, agricultural machinery and equipment, and energy-saving and new energy vehicles. The authors stress the need for the EU to boost its industrial and R&I performance, as well as to establish policies ensuring a level playing field for EU companies in China. This also concerns the EU-China Strategic Outlook, whose aim is to create a more balanced and reciprocal relationship in view of China’s growing power and influence.

For more information, the news can be found on the European Commission’s website.

Funding Opportunities

Call for Twinnings in DigitalHealthEurope

The DigitalHealthEurope project is launching a twinning scheme in June, providing almost €1 million for more than 45 twinnings. One of the initiative’s top priorities is to create “better data to advance research, disease prevention and personalised health and care - allowing researchers and other professionals to pool resources (data, expertise, computing processing and storage capacities) across the EU”.

In DigitalHealthEurope, twinnings are used to transfer innovative solutions from one European region or country to another. Interested organisations and individuals will first exchange ideas on twinning solutions which they can offer or would like to adopt. A twinning marketplace is set up by DigitalHealthEurope to facilitate the matchmaking process.

The total budget for all twinnings to be funded in this call is €932,000. Depending on the type and ambition, the budget per twinning may range from €5,000 for knowledge exchange & training up to €43,000 for full adoption of the digital solution. Further details are available here.

This call will be open on 11 June 2019, and the deadline is 7 August 2019.

Events and Webinars

ASME V&V 40 webinar

ASME is organising a Webinar on 4 June to introduce its first verification and validation (V&V) standard for specific application to medical devices. Tina Morrison (FDA), Marc Horner (ANSYS), and Jeff Bischoff (Zimmer Biomet) will intervene as speakers.

Webinar attendees will gain an understanding of this new standard and how it can be applied to modern medical device design and healthcare.

To register please follow this link.

Members' News

Chest X-Ray Classifier gets CE mark

Quibim has the pleasure to share with the Avicenna Members an important recent milestone. Their “Chest X-Ray Classifier” got CE Mark Certification. You can find further information at this link.

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