HealthBIO 2021 – Overview of the Finnish Life-Science Event of the Year



Organized for the 15th time, HealthBIO is an important Finnish life-science event, offering an analysis of the Finnish life science scene and visionary prognosis of the future trends.

The Finnish health tech sector continues its decades long growth spree and is reaching record high export figures. Since 2000, the Finnish health tech and pharma sectors have contributed to more than 50 000 million € exports, said Tero Piispanen, Senior Executive of the HealthTurku cluster at Turku Science Park Ltd, who presented an overview of the industry status in Finland. In 2020, the in-vitro diagnostics’ exports alone grew by 27% percent and reached 835 million Euros. As an interesting detail, Perkin Elmer Wallac managed to bring a PCR Covid-19 test to the market in mere 7 weeks and doubled its revenue in 2020.

The good, long growth spree of Finnish health sector continues, told Senior Executive, HealthTurku cluster, Tero Piispanen from Turku Science Park Ltd. at HealthBIO 2021 event.

Pharma industry trends seen from a midsize pharma perspective

The globally operating Finnish pharmaceutical company Orion Pharma announced a shift from the traditional product-centric pharma business model to a more service-oriented, so-called Medicine-as-Service approach. The company is expanding their product portfolio to the digital health domain to be able to offer holistic, customer centric services incorporating wellbeing, prevention, diagnostics and treatment.

“The pharma industry is going through a paradigm shift from managing diseases to curing diseases. Alternative technologies are emerging, digitalisation and E-commerce opportunities are broadening. Orion wants to be a visionary forerunner in this respect,” said Antti Haapalinna, VP, R&D, Head of Ext. Science and Partnering at Orion Pharma.

The straytegic shift of Orion Pharma was presented to HealthBIO audience by VP, R&D, Antti Haapalinna.

Programmes focusing on translational research as driving force for innovation

The national Cancer IO and InFlames Flagship programmes are heavily focusing on translating cutting-edge research into health solutions and driving collaboration between industry and academia.

Cancer IO boosts the Finnish immuno-oncology capabilities by supporting top-level research, business competitiveness, individualization of care and competence in capturing real-world evidence. In broader picture, Cancer IO drives creation of a Finnish IO ecosystem and national IO growth strategy, aiming to provide wealth and well-being through disruptive Finnish IO innovations and better care.

The InFlames Flagship programme, a consortium of the University of Turku and Åbo Academi University, aims to enhance entrepreneurship and the translation of new inventions into commercial products with a €10M funding. In coordinated efforts of more than 300 researchers, biotech, and pharmaceutical companies, it plans to introduce 15 new drug targets, get approvals for 3 novel diagnostics tests and 2 immuno-oncology drugs!

More investments to the Finnish life science field welcomed

In contrast to the record-high operating results and growing employment figures, the Finnish life science field is experiencing record lows in start-up activities, with only 12 new established start-ups in the past year. Most of the newly established companies focus on digital health and artificial intelligence solutions.

“The reasons for a slow start-up year can be found in the lack of funding opportunities and a missing lead investor in Finland,” points out Tero Piispanen. 

Life science investments in Finland remain stagnant, even though the field is experiencing unprecedented growth. The funding gap to EU average keeps growing with only 7,7% of all venture-capital investments being channelled to the life-science sector in comparison to 24% in the EU and almost 20% in the Nordics.

“In the past year the field was saved by crowdfunding and sporadic seed investments, however larger venture capitalist investments are needed to give the Finnish life science field the boost and support for growth it sorely needs”, concludes Tero Piispanen.

You can find the HealthBIO 2021 presentations via this link at SlideShare.