Policy: ERA-LEARN Report on Translating Research into Innovation

Policy brief on setting up a methodological approach to understanding translation of medical research into innovative outcomes.

A new ERA-LEARN report looks at three partnership representatives of ERA-NET (TRANSCAN), European Joint Programme (EJP on Rare Diseases) and a joint undertaking (the Innovative Health Initiative) were selected in order to investigate how partnerships navigate the process of translating research activities into medical and health innovations for the benefit of patients, the European health systems and society.

In ‘Translating Research into Innovation: Lessons from Three Case Studies in Health Partnerships’, the authors, Dimitri Gagliardi (UNIMAN) and Effie Amanatidou (R&I Policy Analyst, Greece and UNIMAN), setting up a methodological approach to understanding translation of research into innovative outcomes. Studies on knowledge transfer and innovation processes often come across the idea of ‘the valley of death’, that is the critical phase where one step of the innovation process ends and a new one begins. In this perspective, one of the roles of partnerships is to bridge this valley of death by linking excellent research with technology and solution-minded business undertakings hence generating virtuous cycles of research and innovation.

The report finds that the variety of partnerships in the European medical and health system are a valuable asset for policy and for the health sector. The partnerships contribute significantly to the sustainability of the European health innovation system through their capillary training and capacity building programmes. The partnerships and their projects invest heavily in the next generation of researchers, clinicians and health entrepreneurs by funding PhD and postdoctoral positions and promoting cross-organisation exchanges, training and dissemination activities involving new methodologies, symposia and other knowledge exchanges, cross-sectoral connections and collaborations.

The authors conclude that the emerging policy challenge is to encourage the development of connections and links between partnerships, forming and leveraging higher-level synergies, in order to exploit the potential interactions that are being established within the European research and innovation health system. The objective is to create a nurturing environment for potentially innovative projects to thrive and develop; while such an objective may transcend the boundaries of a single partnership, it is necessary that the health sector acts collaboratively.