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Health innovation: obstacles and stories of success

Innovation Commitee

On December 03, 2019, SWISSCAM hosted a breakfast to discuss: “Health Innovation – Obstacles and Success Stories”. SWISSCAM President Philip Schneider welcomed participants and stressed that the Chamber is strongly committed to promoting activities that foster innovation.

The topic is quite suitable to be discussed at SWISSCAM, Switzerland is indeed a reference in health and several of our associates are active in this segment. Moderating the event was João Sanches, Director of Government Relations & Head of Communications at Novartis, one of the largest and most renowned pharmaceutical companies in the world and member of SWISSCAM.

For the discussion table, the Deputy Coordinator of FAPESP Innovation Research, Sérgio Queiroz, the Institutional Relations Director of the Innovation Agency Inova Unicamp, Vanessa Sensato, as well as the Coordinator of the Clinical Hospital Cell Therapy Center of Ribeirão Preto and Director from Butantan Institute, Dr. Dimas Covas.

Sérgio Queiroz explained how FAPESP (São Paulo State Research Support Foundation) supports the development of innovation projects. He said that São Paulo stands out nationally, since the state spent in 2018 more than R$ 27 billion in R&D. “FAPESP and the private sector have a strong partnership, of the total spent in 2018, 56% went to company research. From more than 74,000 researchers supported, 57.1% worked for companies, ”he said.

FAPESP’s expenditures include Scholarships, Academic Research, University-Business Cooperative Research, and Innovative Small Business Research. The Life Science area received the most incentives, more than R$ 571 thousand, corresponding to 47% of expenses. FAPESP has different ways to help companies, see what they are:

– PIPE (Innovative Research in Small Business): Support for research projects developed in small businesses of up to 250 employees.

– PITE (Partnership for Technological Innovation): Support for research projects developed in partnership between São Paulo research institutions and companies located in Brazil and abroad.

– CPE (Research and Engineering Center): Research programs focused on medium and long term challenges with high scientific and technological impact.

Vanessa Sensato, on the other hand, shared the important role that universities play in the development of new health research. She represented INOVA, a Unicamp agency focused on supporting entrepreneurship and innovation.

The agency operates in the areas of Intellectual Property, Cooperative Projects and Partnerships, and has a Scientific and Technological Park. The park has an area of ​​100,000 m², where startups, government organizations, the third sector, companies with a research agreement with Unicamp and incubated companies of Inmcap (Unicamp’s Technology-Based Business Incubator) can be installed. “Today, we have 717“ daughter companies ”in activity, generating almost R$ 8 billion in revenues. Health and wellness is fourth in number of companies, ”said Vanessa Sensato.

We also had the honor of welcoming Dr. Dimas Covas, who shared with us details about the innovative treatment that uses altered cells in the laboratory to fight cancer. The doctor is part of the team of the Clinical Hospital of the Ribeirão Preto Medical School, which performed the treatment on a patient with already severe lymphoma.

Considered a great success, pioneering treatment in Latin America is all about removing the patient’s T cells (a type of immune system cell) and genetically altering them in the laboratory to make them more effective in fighting lymphoma. “In 2017, immunological treatments represented 19% of the Brazilian pharmaceutical market, generating revenues of over R$ 15 million for companies. This percentage is expected to grow further in the coming years, representing a great potential for investment, ”said Dr. Covas.

The event was very inspiring, as the guests showed that Brazilian research is advancing and deserve investment.

Special thanks to the Innovation Committee Coordinator, João Sanches, for supporting us in this event.

We are also grateful to Victorinox who presented our speakers with a beautiful kit of the brand.