Having an idea, developing the concept, finding financing, making the prototype, completing all testing, and ending up with a final product are all parts of but one process. It is yet another process to make contact with the international environment, while at the same time maintaining a "finger on the pulse" related to developments and breakthroughs on the local and regional scene that may influence methods of treatment, products, services or medicines.
MedCoast Scandinavia is doing all this and more, connecting Norway and Sweden in seeking to create a dynamic constellation of universities and industry and health-care-related organizations that are connected to the biomedical research and development field - and then create "win-win" situations with companies seeking to penetrate the regional and global biotech markets.
Pursuing the Goal
The MedCoast region stretches from Oslo, Norway in the north to Gothenburg, Sweden in the south. Within this area that measures just over 300 miles in length are top research, scholastic and industrial facilities populated by dedicated and educated individuals within the medical field.
MedCoast Scandinavia is pursuing its goal to establish the region as one of Europe's leading bio-regions, where top-level researchers, facilities and health care infrastructure make it a natural target for biotech and health investment.
Strength in Alliances
In addition to the cooperation and support received from such Norwegian organizations as the Research Council of Norway, Medinnova (including InnoMed), the National Hospital of Norway and others, steps have recently been taken with biotechnology organizations in Sweden, Denmark and Finland to develop a common profile that is recognizable on the international level far beyond the borders of Scandinavia. These alliances include other regions such as Øresund, the area stretching from Copenhagen to southwest Sweden. This sub-region is known as Medicon Valley, one of the leading biotech areas in the world today.
These alliances will assist in providing both the synergy as well as the access to practical and scientific information that can be used in the already existing MedCoast database.
Some of MedCoast Scandinavia's initiatives include a formal partnership agreement with Øresund's Medicon Valley Academy as well as the co-foundation of ScanBalt (a Northern European meta-network).
Fields of Opportunity
The MedCoast region features several biomedical science parks that are located close to hospital and university research. Scientific areas of note include cardiovascular/metabolic diseases, neuroscience, cell therapy/biomaterials, immunology, microbiology, molecular biology, epidemiology and biobanks.
Currently MedCoast is undertaking projects within areas such as microarrays, bioinformatics, proteomics, biobank and genetic epidemiology, protein structure and spectroscopy, bioimaging, and ethics.
Information at Your Fingertips
MedCoast is continually seeking ways to provide added value to its different target groups and alliances. With such a large amount of intellectual capital present in Scandinavia within the biotechnology field, the decision was made to begin development of an online database that will provide the latest biotech information related to the companies, projects, articles and competence in the region.
This project, the Scandinavian Life Science Database, is a joint effort between MedCoast and the Karolinska Institute, ScanBalt, Medicon Valley Academy, Uppsala Bio, Stockholm Bio, Business Region Gothenburg and Sweden Bio.
The first phase of the project is currently nearing completion, and the goal of listing 1,200 companies in Scandinavia which focus on the life sciences as related to biotechnology, medical devices or as service providers, has been achieved. This information is now available online with a link from www.medcoast.org, and will be updated on an ongoing basis. No password is necessary, and it is available to all who wish to learn more about this biotech region and the resources there.
The second phase will focus on providing a deeper perspective regarding both ongoing and completed research projects, current and past scientific articles, and the intellectual capital that is present in the region.
The final phase will be oriented towards a partnership/search facility for research groups and commercial organizations seeking to further develop their ideas or products together with strategic alliances. At this point, password access control will be initiated in order to safeguard the interests of the users involved. The aim of MedCoast is to make this available within the next two years.
Part of Something Greater
A first version of the Life Science Database was presented at BIO 2004 in San Francisco, the largest biotechnology event in the world - with more than 16,000 representatives from 60 countries. This provided a fitting introduction for the virtual information centre that has ambitious, yet realistic goals.
When all goes according to plan, the Life Science Database will function as a type of membership community, where user organizations will update their own information. They will be able to interact with others on the database, and will use the information on the database not only to improve their own activities, but contribute proactively to a strengthening of the MedCoast region's - and Scandinavia's - biotechnology sectors.
Forward to the Beginning
When the Earth was formed 4.6 billion years ago, it was a lifeless, desolate place. Yet only one billion years later, the seas were full of organisms resembling blue-green algae. How did they get there - in other words, how did life begin? MedCoast is researching questions related to ecology and the evolution of marine life in the seas bordering the region.
One specific example in this context is the MarEGene project, which is currently on the way to moving marine research into new areas of understanding, with the goal of a full integration of marine research that transcends geographic borders, institutions and scientific disciplines.
By looking back, perhaps MedCoast will catch a glimpse of the future.