Strengthening cross-border expansion of life science SMEs

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the life sciences sector were given funding and access to experts in other regions to help with their product and marketing development. Through the IN2LifeSciences project, eight leading regions in North-West Europe collaborated to give SMEs the tools, resources and business advisory services they needed to succeed.

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IN2LifeSciences helped create around 230 cross-border matches between companies and providers © IN2LifeSciences IN2LifeSciences helped create around 230 cross-border matches between companies and providers © IN2LifeSciences

" IN2LifeSciences was a success because companies benefited from this programme in a way that made a concrete difference for their business. IN2LifeSciences was about helping SMEs driving their innovations to the next level. We got to know their problems and tried to solve them with the tools at hand. We were able to achieve these results due to the efforts of a well-oiled project team. "

Ria Hein - Noord-Brabant Development Agency (BOM)

Innovative SMEs are vital for the development of new products and services in the field of life sciences and medical technology. But innovation is complex and not all the necessary expertise, facilities and funding are available in each company’s region.

The IN2LifeSciences covered a network of eight regions in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, and France, all of which are strong in life sciences. The programmes offered three types of incentives for innovation support: ‘Collaboration’ (EUR 7 000), ‘Insight’ (EUR 4 000), and ‘Meet & Greet’ (expenses up to EUR 500).

Driving collaboration

Since its launch in April 2012, over 220 financial incentives were granted for SMEs representing funding for 70 ‘Collaboration’, 44 ‘Insight’, and 110 ‘Meet & Greet’ actions. The fourth and final call for funding closed in May 2014 and resulted in 28 companies being awarded financial incentives – 13 seeking technology and market expertise and 15 looking to collaborate with a foreign partner within the IN2LifeSciences network.

Not only were around 230 cross-border matches between companies and providers realised, but IN2LifeSciences also helped companies sell their product in different markets and give them insights into financial engineering abroad. Of the participating SME, 86 % plan to continue cooperating with their newfound partners in the future.

A source for support

Alongside the funding to acquire international expertise, IN2LifeSciences organised transnational ‘elevator pitch’ events to help SMEs access foreign investors as well as online training ‘webinars’. International brokerage workshops and other innovation events also helped the life science firms find relevant organisations to collaborate with.

The participating SMEs have access to the online IN2LifeSciences directory of some 224 technology, 15 financial and 72 market service providers. Each regional partner in the project was responsible for attracting and assessing applicants from their area and had a total budget of EUR 100 000 to allocate.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “IN2LifeSciences” is EUR 3 140 445, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund is contributing EUR 1 570 223 from the “North-West Europe” under priority I: “Capitalising on Innovation” for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

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