Smart Innovation Norway’s two-year EU project, PERMIDES, has been concluded. Thanks to the work that has been laid down, both the biopharma and IT sector are now better prepared for the future.

By Mari Kristine Buckholm, September 10, 2018

“Only positive feedback from the participating SMEs”

Success with 45 MNOK INNOSUP project:

PERMIDES (2016-2018) was an INNOSUP project under the EU’s research and innovation program Horizon 2020 and was finalized in august 2018.

Through the INNOSUP (innovation support) initiative, European business clusters from several countries established joint collaborative project with the purpose of improving the innovation support to small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the life sciences sector. Such funding is called cascade funding or third-party funding.

“The PERMIDES project was launched in 2015, which was the first time the INNOSUP initiative was launched. It reached all its goals and milestones successfully, and on the way received very positive feedback from both the European Commission and the participating SMEs,” says Qazi Sohail Ahmad, International Project Manager at Smart Innovation Norway.

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Improving competitive abilities

The Norwegian PERMIDES partners, Smart Innovation Norway and Oslo Cancer Cluster, worked with four other European clusters within the field of life sciences and IT.

The goal has been to strengthen the competitiveness and foster the innovation potential of SMEs within Personalized Medicine with the help of advance ICT technologies. PERMIDES succeeded in doing so by directly supporting beneficiaries to master their challenges.

“Personalized Medicine is a new market with many biopharma companies and healthcare companies. The issue was that there were many challenges in this market that needed to be solved. We identified that most of the challenges were in the IT area, and that they required attention from the bioinformatics and IT companies,” explains Ahmad.

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New solutions and products

To develop the personalized medicine market, the project consortium matchmaked the life sciences companies with IT companies, and the identified challenges were tackled. As a result, the life sciences value chain evolved and the emerging market of personalized medicine got developed with new IT solutions, technologies and products by the participating SMEs.

Each innovation voucher awarded resulted in either a demo/prototyped product, concept, service, or design of a solution to tackle the innovation barriers in the personalized medicine market.

“The challenges we are talking about, were mainly data gathering, data security, data exchange and machine learning, or new software-based marketing methods adds Victoria Næss Jensen, Project Coordinator at Smart Innovation Norway and Work Package 3 leader.

Coaching the SMEs

Smart Innovation Norway has been leading Work Package 3 (Innovation Projects), and in that regard, was responsible for several important activities. One of the main tasks was to mentor the already funded SMEs in different areas and to make sure the continuity of the funded projects does not hit barriers. This was the role of Mr. Ahmad:

“Primarily I worked with coaching all the SMEs that got funding from the PERMIDES project. My job was to take them one step further and show them how to develop their projects further. For instance, where to find additional funding, how to develop a market entry strategy, where to find potential collaboration opportunities, investors, and how to establish business plans , etc.” says Ahmad.

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Every goal reached

The PERMIDES consortium has developed a sustainability concept for the PERMIDES Platform, a matchmaking platform where different businesses can interact with each other and develop collaborative opportunities or solve challenges in the life sciences value chain.

“I participated with a team from the other partners and together we developed the sustainability concept through which the platform can further be sustained and financed beyond H2020 funding,” notes Ahmad.

PERMIDES has been a great success, both for the Consortium and the participating SMEs, resulting in more than 100 funded projects, whereas 76 unique SMEs from 15 countries participated in these collaborative projects, and over 400 SMEs registered to the PERMIDES Matchmaking Platform. Particularly, the PERMIDES platform contributed to the success of finding appropriate partners.

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Paving the way

“The funding rate of up to 100 % encouraged many SMEs with little or no experience with innovation projects or funding schemes to participate in the program. It also allowed the SMEs to proceed with projects that might have been considered too risky in a partially self-funded approach,” Næss Jensen points out.

Even though the PERMIDES project is now finished, it added a stone to pave the way for the newly emerging personalized medicine market.

“Through the results of the projects we see that the understanding between IT and Life Sciences has been improved and several concrete technical developments showcase the benefits of IT and Life Science interaction,” conclude Ahmad and Næss Jensen.

OUR PERMIDES TEAM: Joseph Negreira (from left), Victoria Næss Jensen, Qazi Sohail Ahmad, Christian Børresen and Dieter Hirdes. (Photo: Mari K. Buckholm)