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Sherbrooke Innopole Expands its Life Sciences Global Alliance with a New Partner


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Aleksandr Natanelov, Locate in Limburg, Belgium; Iztok Lesjak, Director, Technologic Park of Ljubljana, Slovenia; Ursula Hultkvist Bengtsson, TIM President; Alenka Rozaj Brvar, Slovenian Innovation Hub, Ljubljana; Josée Fortin, General director of Sherbrooke Innopole, Sherbrooke (Québec, Canada); Lars-Erik Eriksson, Clinical Laser Thermia systems, Sweden

PRESS RELEASE – A European delegation from the Life Sciences sector was in Sherbrooke from October 1 to 5, 2017. Sherbrooke Innopole welcomed several of its international partners, five economic development representatives from Sweden, Belgium, and Slovenia, to enhance their knowledge of Sherbrooke’s Life Sciences cluster, to raise their awareness of shared opportunities for business exchanges and business development, and to sign an agreement with the Slovenian authorities.

Highlights of the week included talks on economic exchanges with Québec and the rest of Canada, meetings with several Sherbrooke-based life sciences companies, and tours of the CHUS Centre de recherche (research centre) and the Institut de pharmacologie de Sherbrooke (IPS—Sherbrooke’s pharmacology institute). In addition, the visitors had an opportunity to visit Espace LABz, the brand-new, multi-tenant, scientific lab building in Sherbrooke’s Scientific Park.

Xavier Roudou, research professor, inform the visitors about the PRAC

Signature of a strategic agreement with Slovenia

During the delegation’s visit, President of TIM (“Twins’ International Multihelix”), Ursula Hultkvist Bengtsson, and Director of the Slovenian Innovation Hub, Alenka Rožaj Brvar, proceeded with the official signature of an economic collaboration agreement between their two organizations. This agreement falls under the multilateral partnership agreement of which Sherbrooke Innopole, Medicon Village (Lund, Sweden), Happy Aging/LifeTech Valley (Limburg, Belgium), Life Sciences Hub Wales (Wales), and the Slovenian Innovation Hub (Slovenia) are part.

Through this new agreement, the two organizations have committed to stimulating and promoting the life sciences industry in Sherbrooke and in Slovenia, from both business and research perspectives. The agreement thus provides for support for the growth of innovative companies within their respective areas, especially in terms of the development of new markets. It will also facilitate discussions among research institutes, universities, and health establishments. Sherbrooke companies will benefit from easier access to the Slovenian and European market and will be able to more easily find partners, in either R&D or the distribution of their innovative products and services.

Director General of Sherbrooke Innopole, Josée Fortin, is very pleased with the signature of this new collaboration agreement: “It’s an honour to sign this agreement protocol with the Slovenian Innovation Hub, a major business and innovation hub. As does each Twin’s International Multihelix partner, the Slovenian Hub has an ecosystem in the life sciences sector similar to ours. Our companies and our researchers will definitely benefit from the sharing of expertise and of best practices in the field to seize upon business opportunities.”

She also emphasized the strategic importance of such international accords in a context of American protectionism and free trade with Europe. “Canada, which has a free-trade agreement with both the United States and now the European Union, could become a gateway for European stakeholders wishing to access the American market. That is why we have been developing our network of international allies for a number of years—to position Sherbrooke favourably in this regard.”

The Executive Director of the Slovenian Innovation Hub, Alenka Rožaj Brvar, also seems to be very satisfied with the agreement: “This agreement with Sherbrooke Innopole is another step towards our goal of stimulating innovation and research in the Life Sciences cluster in Slovenia. Our members have everything to gain by having access to an internationally recognized hub that has cutting-edge R&D infrastructure and state-of-the-art laboratories, accessible not only to our titans but also to our promising start-ups. In exchange, we hope that Sherbrooke Innopole will be able to benefit from the flourishing Slovenian life sciences ecosystem, which is firmly committed to improving human health on an international scale. In this very competitive industry, it is essential that we expand our alliances and that we join forces. The knowledge and wealth of our two countries will greatly gain from this.”

Created in 2015, the Slovenian Innovation Hub, as a private-non-for profit organization, has as its mission to promote excellence and creativity by knowledge transfer from academia and research organizations to business and NGO organizations, by fostering innovation & IP,  global networking, communication to Government, by identification of new business opportunities, promising technologies, large scale projects, by new technological and social innovative solutions, top talent development, new jobs, high VA products and services, startups and best practice sharing. One of the economic sectors identified as a priority is the life sciences cluster: Strategic research Innovation partnership in Health and Medicine, with 52 partners. The organization groups research centres, health and teaching establishments, business and financing companies, forming value chains in the following sectors: Translational Medicine, Biopharmaceutics, Herbal medicine and natural cosmetics, Resistant bacteria, Cancer treatment as well as Active and healthy aging.

Espace LABz: To host companies from Sherbrooke and beyond

While in the region, the economic partners had the opportunity to visit some of the most promising companies in the Life Sciences key sector, including Physipro, Ibiom, and Phenoswitch in their offices, as well as Immune BioSolutions and Archimed Medical in their premises at Espace LABz, Sherbrooke’s new scientific multi-tenant centre. Our visitors also had an opportunity to have a guided tour of their facilities and a virtual tour of spaces inaccessible for biosafety reasons.

Alex Daviau, laboratories coordinator, give a tour of Espace LABz to the visitors

“This infrastructure really caught our interest,” acknowledged Ursula Hultkvist Bengtsson, founder and CEO of MultiHelix AB. “Not only does the space offer the basic material required by any life sciences company, but with shared spaces and cutting-edge equipment, the site is even more attractive to both start-ups and international companies wanting to explore the Canadian or North American market,” she noted. “Furthermore, its proximity to businesses in the scientific park, to educational institutions, and to research centres makes it a location conducive to the exchange of knowledge and to the emergence of innovative projects.”

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About Slovenian Innovation Hub

The Strategic Research and Innovation Partnership (SRIP) in Health – Medicine, a formal group of key stakeholders in the health and medicine sector in Slovenia, operates within the Slovenian Innovation Hub. They connect small, medium and large companies, leading educational institutions from three national universities, public health care organisations, centers of excellence, leading national research centers, non-governmental associations (including patient associations), intermediary organizations (municipality and regional development agency), a technology park and financial institutions. They jointly employ over 4000 people, combine the knowledge of their entities in operating in the fields of health and medicine, life sciences, nanotechnologies, ICT, AI, and related industries in Slovenia.

About MultiHelix AB

MultiHelix AB is working in the intersection of life science, information and communication technology, and food tech. It is a consultancy company with a strong mission to create value for people´s health and well-being by utilising knowledge for sustainable growth and welfare. www.multihelix.se