EHRIN, a new pan-European health research network designed to facilitate links and funding opportunities between small and medium-sized enterprises, academia, and allied organisations in the life sciences sector, has secured funding clearance from its umbrella organisation, the European Confederation of Pharmaceutical Entrepreneurs (EUCOPE).

Conceived by a EUCOPE working group in March/April 2012 and led by Dr Mark Edwards, R&D director at the UK’s Ethical Medicines Industry Group (EMIG), the European Health Research Innovation Network recognises the strong potential of SMEs in Europe as a source of innovation and economic growth, yet also the difficulties faced by smaller companies in identifying and accessing research-funding opportunities.  

The remit, therefore is a collaborative network that brings together SMEs and their trade associations with potential academic partners, as well as research charities and foundations, patient associations, technology-transfer offices and other public research funders.

The national trade associations driving the initiative are EMIG, Germany’s Bundesverband der Pharmazeutischen Industrie (BPI) and Sweden’s SwedenBio.

Edwards will also shortly be joining EUCOPE as its R&D director to lead EHRIN. 

One-stop shop

Billing itself as the only pan-European, one-stop shop/database-driven network that represents the collective interests of life-science SMEs, academia and allied organisations, EHRIN will seek to raise awareness and use of existing or potential sources of organisational expertise and funding for life sciences research.

This will in turn help to promote the diversity of the European life sciences ecosystem to attract inward invest and sharpen the region’s competitive edge globally in the sector, EHRIN believes.

Specific objectives include:

•    Addressing current productivity challenges in the pharmaceutical industry.

•    Creating value by facilitating the development and operation of new and close-knit collaboration networks between the organisations involved in EHRIN.

•    Providing European policy makers with input on how to increase SME competitiveness and the effectiveness of academia in the life sciences.

•    Creating a simpler access route for EU funding in the field and influencing the creation of new funding pools.

•    Building a platform to address the needs of SMEs within the modern pharmaceutical/health technology economic landscape.            

The overarching goal is to forge integrated, networked and long-term partnerships between SMEs, academia and allied organisations in which open, two-way communication will become standard practice throughout the life sciences research and commercialisation process.