IMI successor to launch 30 large scale health innovation projects by 2030

22 Jun 2021 | News

Europe fares badly when it comes to translating biomedical research into health innovation. The upcoming Innovative Health Initiative aims to improve things, pumping €2.2B into cross-sector projects

The Innovative Health Initiative (IHI) will launch at least 30 large-scale cross-sector health innovation projects by 2030, contributing to a creation of an EU-wide ecosystem for translating research into improvements in healthcare.   

The EU has world-leading healthcare systems and is strong in biomedical science, but underperforms when it comes to translating research results into health products, services, and prevention strategies. To improve translation, the European Commission and the health industries have drafted a plan for the new IHI partnership that is due to launch in the next year.

In addition to the 30 large-scale projects, the partnership has a brief to improve the competitiveness of the European health industry and to demonstrate at least five innovations that address unmet public health needs.

IHI, the successor to the pharma-led Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), extends beyond pharmaceuticals to include medical technology, diagnostics and digital health.

The partnership will build on the 12-years of research in IMI, one of world’s largest public private programmes in health. Over its lifespan, IMI invested almost €5 billion to accelerate translation of biomedical research into new drugs.

In IHI, the focus will shift to more digital, patient-centred innovations. Of the budget of €2.2 billion, €1.2 billion will be coming from Horizon Europe and €1 billion from industry. Third-party industries, charities and foundations may invest money in the partnership, and the Commission is ready to match that funding source by up to €200 million.

Before the partnership gets off the ground, it needs to be signed off by EU member states. The 27 governments are currently debating the details of the initiative, such as governance and total budget and hope to reach an agreement by the end of the year, to enable IHI to start alongside nine other partnerships.

Action plan

IHI will focus on five areas. One will be expanding knowledge on how diseases develop, whether due to predisposition, the environment, or genetic factors. It is hoped this will lead to new, validated biomarkers for diagnosing, preventing and monitoring treatment of a disease, as well as providing new methods and tools for identifying pre-symptomatic cases.

Second, the partnership plans to integrate the different parts of the health research landscape to provide more holistic care for patients, by breaking the silos between basic research, medical disciplines and technological areas.

Third, as the world moves away from a one size fits all approach to medicine, IHI will develop and demonstrate tools for more personalised, integrated health care.

One of the key drivers for all this will be data, with the partners hoping to exploit it to develop data standards for health care and for enabling access to shared repositories of clinical and patient data.

Lastly, the partnership aims to improve the tools and methods used for assessing the added value of health interventions.

The draft agenda suggests Europe’s weak system for translating biomedical research may be partially down to lack of consideration of the needs of society and the patients. “Patients and end users in general need to be involved in all stages of research, from project design to implementation, to develop meaningful innovations,” the draft says.

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