Scanbalt BioRegion - Toward Europe’s first Metaregion

Publiceret Januar 2005

ScanBalt is a network of networks within Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Sweden, northern part of Germany and northwestern part of Russia. This meta-region has the brand name ScanBalt BioRegion.

The aims of the individual regional networks constitute the basis for ScanBalt. ScanBalt is a mediating and coordinating network without formal power. The overall aim for ScanBalt is to promote the development of ScanBalt BioRegion as a globally competitive meta-region.

Regional member networks in ScanBalt

  • Bay-to-Bio (Schleswig-Holstein, www.baytobio.de)
  • BioCon Valley (Meclenborg-Vorpommern, www.bcv.org)
  • BioForum Oulu/Tecnopolis (Northern Finland, www.technopolis.fi)
  • Biomedico Forum (East Denmark, www.biomedicoforum.dk)
  • BioTeam South, (Southern Denmark, www.bioteamsouth.dk)
  • BioTOP (Berlin-Brandenburg, www.biotop.de)
  • BioTurku (South West Finland, www.bioturku.fi)
  • Estonian Biotechnology Association (Estonia, www.biotech.ee)
  • MedCoast Scandinavia (Oslo/Göteborg, www.medcoast.org)
  • Medicon Valley Academy (Öresund Region, www.mva.org)

All members of the regional networks are also per definition members of ScanBalt and have access to most member benefits. Where no regional networks are present in ScanBalt BioRegion local universities represent the regional interests in the governing bodies of ScanBalt.

Currently 17 Universities and 7 Industries or tech transfer units are in addition to the regional networks members of ScanBalt

ScanBalt acts as a platform and/or an umbrella for activities within life sciences/biotechnology. Projects focus either on specific thematic themes or on creating metaregional identity, transparency and infrastructure.

ScanBalt in addition acts as a voice for ScanBalt BioRegion.

The short story of ScanBalt

At the 1st Baltic BioTech Forum, November 2001 in Mecklenburg-Vorpommeren, Germany, a round table discussion took place between representatives from different public and private parties in the Baltic Sea regions. This gave the necessary momentum to develop the idea of a ScanBalt BioRegion and an organisation, which should coordinate joint efforts and promote the creation of critical mass.

At subsequent meetings it was agreed to form the joint ScanBalt initiative and to establish a steering committee headed by Bo Samuelsson, then vice chancellor at Göteborg University (www.gu.se), Sweden, as chairman.  As vice chairmen were elected Wolfgang Blank, CEO of BioCon Valley (www.bcv.org) in Meclenborg-Vorpommern, Børge Diderichsen vice president Novo Nordisk (www.novonordisk.com), Denmark, and Anna Podhajska, head of Center of Technology Transfer (www.biotech.univ.gda.pl), Gdansk, Poland. A pilot-project funded by Nordic Innovation Center (www.nordicinnovation.net) in 2002 established ScanBalt as a communication platform.

Then 1 January 2003 the secretariat was sat up with 3 years funding from the Nordic Innovation Center. It was given the tasks to increase involvement in ScanBalt, develop ScanBalt as an independent member based association and establish ScanBalt as a one-stop-entry to ScanBalt BioRegion. Other issues are focus on economic barriers and mobility in ScanBalt BioRegion.

The 1st August 2004 ScanBalt was formally converted into a not for profit member based association, when the statutes were signed by 29 founding members during 3rd ScanBalt Forum in Turku, Finland, organized by BioTurku. The chairmanhip was at that occasion enlarged with vice chairman Jaanus Pikani, Board member, Estonian Biotechnology Association (www.biotech.ee ).

The next 3 years

ScanBalt currently prepares a new strategy for 2005-2008 with concrete actions lines to be followed. Important issues will be to promote identity and transparency of ScanBalt BioRegion and to ensure concrete outcome and results from initiated thematic projects inside e.g. stem cells, marine biotechnology, agro biotechnology, bio fuels and clinical research.

In addition a metaragional triple helix infrastructure for education and research in life sciences/biotechnology will be of paramount significance – the ScanBalt Campus.

Other focal points are innovation and strengthened values. ScanBalt also needs to create benchmarks and scorecards for the metaregion and to assist creating common benchmarks for the individual (bio) regions. Both ScanBalt BioRegion and the individual (bio) regions are faced with the same natural request to prove added value and impact of their work.

Finally ScanBalt has financially to be consolidated both based on member fees and on funding from various resources.

The ScanBalt Organisation – Decentralized and Bottom Up

ScanBalt must continuously be developed as a decentralized and bottom-up based organisation. It is an organisation – but it is also a movement based on the work of the members. Many of the activities are coordinated by - and placed at - the regional representatives in ScanBalt. Moreover, every region has the possibility to have an own regional web master with direct access to the ScanBalt-web (www.scanbalt.org), so they can post relevant news and information from their region.

This requires that communication between the organisation and the members and between the members is absolutely transparent and of high quality Much effort has been put into establishing platforms and routines ensuring that these demands are met.

The governing bodies of ScanBalt are the General Assembly, The Executive Committee and the Chairmanship. In addition ScanBalt has established or is establishing advisory committees, councils and work groups on strategy, education, research and innovation. All are assisted by a small secretariat in Copenhagen with an affiliate in Lund, Sweden. The secretariat is in close collaboration with the various project coordinators and regional web masters.

Thematic projects

ScanBalt has proved the ability to initiate and facilitate concrete projects on specific themes and spin them out – or to act as an umbrella for projects initiated independently of ScanBalt but fulfilling its goals and values. Only direct members of ScanBalt can initiate “ScanBalt”-projects. Today the following co-funded thematic projects have been established or will be applied for within short (see also www.scanbalt.org/projects):

ScanBalt Agro Biotech Research Network (co-funded by NordForsk)

The project focuses on Roots and plant-microbe interaction in the root systems. The initiative is lead by Helsinki University, and supported by ScanBalt and the NOVA-BOVA University. For further information contact Jaari Valkonen, jpvalkon@mappi.helsinki.

ScanBalt Bio-ethanol Network (co-funded by NordForsk)

The project is a research based educational network. The initiative is lead by Öresund Environment Academy. For further information contact Jacob Juul, juul@oresund-environment.org

ScanBalt Clinical Research Network (co-funded by Nordic Innovation Center)

The project aims for coordination and promotion of cross-disciplinary innovation from clinical research. The initiative is lead by The Estonian Genome Project Foundation. For further information contact Jaanus Pikani, jaanus.pikani@biotech.ee, or Helene Alavere, helene.alavere@geenivaramu.ee

ScanBalt IP Knowledge Network (Co-funded by Nordic Innovation Center and EU FP 6)

The project creates cross-regional cooperation/coordination of research/education in intellectual property (IP) management. The initiative is lead by Center of Intellectual Property Rights (CIP) at Chalmers Technical University, Sweden. For further information Contact Frida Kasteng, frida.kasteng@cip.chalmers.se

ScanBalt Marine Biotech Network (co-funded by NordForsk)

The projects aims to improve research, education and mobility opportunities inside marine biotechnology. It will create critical mass in a fragmented field. The initiative is lead by Norwegian School of Veterinary Science. For further information contact Peter Aleström, peter.alestrom@veths.no

ScanBalt Stem Cell Research Network (co-funded by NordForsk)

The network reinforces the global position of North European stem cell research by increasing critical mass and cross-regional collaboration.  The initiative is lead by University of Oslo. For further information contact Stefan Krauss stefan.krauss@medisin.uio.no

Metaregional Identity, Visibility, Transparency and Infrastructure

ScanBalt creates identity, visibility and transparency for ScanBalt BioRegion or supports metaregional economic development by establishing adequate metaregional structures inside education, research and innovation. For that purpose ScanBalt has a number of projects ongoing (see also www.scanbalt.org/projects):

ScanBalt Competenceregion (co.funded by EU FP6)

It is the objective of ScanBalt Competenceregion to provide an extensive and structured mapping of ScanBalt BioRegion, providing a status and overview with respect to actors, competencies, framework conditions and other relevant factors on a globally comparable basis and to establish joint regional strategies and recommendations. The initiative is lead by BioCon Valley. For further information contact Wolfgang Blank, wb@bcv.org or Careen Krüger ck@bcv.org

ScanBalt Campus (co-funded by Interreg 111B)

ScanBalt Campus creates a trans national/sectoral triple helix institution building in education, research and development. ScanBalt Campus will deliver a framework, acting as an umbrella and/or as a platform, in the whole field of knowledge formation from idea to market. The initiative is lead by Göteborg University. For further information contact Bo Samuelsson, bo.samuelsson@clinchem.gu.se or Peter Frank, pf@scanbalt.org

Boosting Baltic FP6 (co-funded by EU FP 6)

The Boosting Baltic FP6 aims to increase the competences on programs of FP6 and related knowledge for National Contact Points (NCP’s) and their customers. For further information Contact Frank Graage graage@steinbeis-nordost.de or Lise Vinkel, lv@scanbalt.org

ScanBalt - Network of Networks inside life sciences/biotechnology (co-funded by Nordic Innovation Center)

This project establishes ScanBalt as a one-stop-entry and coordinating decentralized organisation for ScanBalt BioRegion. The project in addition focuses on economic barriers for borderless coorperation and mobility of knowledge and competencies. For further information contact Peter Frank, pf@scanbalt.org

ScanBalt Innovation (to be applied for)

The ScanBalt Innovation aims to improve tech transfer and economic development in ScanBalt BioRegion. Concept development is currently ongoing. One tool will be to establish ScanBalt Innovation Council, which can deliver recommendations and advice on innovation. For further information contact Peter Frank, pf@scanbalt.org

ScanBalt Ethics (to be applied for)

The project will develop bioethical guidelines for ScanBalt BioRegion and promote EU ethical guidelines. Concept development is currently ongoing. For further information contact Peter Frank, pf@scanbalt.org

ScanBalt Academy

ScanBalt Academy (SBA) is currently being established as a group of distinguished and prominent life scientists from academia as well as industry and government. Fellows of ScanBalt Academy (SBAF) must be born in or citizens of ScanBalt countries and regions.

SBA and SBAF should e.g. serve the following purposes: add credibility to the scientific quality of ScanBalt projects and initiatives (when relevant), serve as advisory boards of ScanBalt Campus and other activities (when relevant), give lectures or teach courses at universities and hospitals in ScanBalt BioRegion (for members), be prepared to act as ScanBalt Ambassadors and as evaluators on proposals for new ScanBalt activities and projects, help reverse brain-drain from ScanBalt BioRegion and engage expatriates to engage in ScanBalt activities and, finally, organize an annual Symposium, possibly in conjunction with ScanBalt Forum.

ScanBalt Forum

Once a year ScanBalt Forum, a two days conference, takes place. ScanBalt Forum is a  tool for the projects to report, discuss their activities and coordinate with other projects. In addition ScanBalt Forum serves to initiate new projects. ScanBalt Forum also serves for dialog with relevant decision- and opinion makers.

ScanBalt Forum is not to be compared with a high level scientific conference and competing with with other conferences in ScanBalt BioRegion. Still many very notable speakers each year participate – including for the 2005 conference, Nobel prize winners.

ScanBalt Forum takes place every year in different regions and is organized by one of the members, shifting each year. In 2003 it took place in Gdansk, 2004 in Turku and in 2005 it will take place in Oslo, 3 and 4 November. Then in 2006 it will move to one of the Baltic countries. In addition to promote ScanBalt BioRegion, ScanBalt Forum attracts significant attention to the regional organizers with proved added value.

ScanBalt Fact files

ScanBalt has a growing number of fact files, which contain information on key topics of interest. The fact files are published as searchable databases on www.scanbalt.org

The Fact file on Education allows searching for life science study and research institutions across the ScanBalt Bioregion.

The Fact file on Investment allows finding investment and venture capital companies with a specific interest in life science across the ScanBalt BioRegion.

The Fact file on Clinical Competences allows finding information on hospitals, institutes and medical research specializations.

ScanBalt – a voice for Europe’s first Metaregion

ScanBalt and EU

ScanBalt BioRegion has attracted strong attention from regional, national and supranational authorities. At the same time ScanBalt has been able to establish itself as a reliable and trust worthy voice on behalf of ScanBalt BioRegion.

As part of the ongoing dialog with the EU ScanBalt has in 2004 delivered two position papers (see www.scanbalt.org/sw938.asp) on respectively metaregions and marine science in EU Framework Programme 7 (FP 7).  The ScanBalt thematic networks can in general utilize ScanBalt as a platform and/or an umbrella to deliver their point of views inside specific themes.

ScanBalt constantly works to strengthen the dialog with the EU on behalf of ScanBalt BioRegion thereby promoting the interests of the members. ScanBalt also promotes ScanBalt BioRegion as a case example on how to establish metaregional collaborations as a tool to improve the exploitation of scarce and often fragmented resources.

ScanBalt and the Nordic collaboration

ScanBalt clearly supports a strong Nordic collaboration through the Nordic Council, Nordic Council of Ministers, Nordic Innovation Center and NordForsk as necessary tools to promote the interest of the 11 countries involved in ScanBalt BioRegion in the EU. This role could eventually be strengthened by the establishment of a common Nordic office in Brussels, which should promote Nordic interests in e.g. research, education and innovation.

ScanBalt argues that the Nordic collaboration should be extended to follow the definition of ScanBalt BioRegion, thereby including Poland, Northern Germany and Northwestern part of Russia. This is based on economic and political motives and because of historical bonds.

Transnational funding of projects should be substantially larger than today. In addition new models for funding could be investigated and promoted e.g. based on one-third in kind from the project partners, one-third from the Nordic collaboration and one-third from EU.

ScanBalt also focus on how to remove barriers for mobility of human, financial and industrial resources in ScanBalt Bioregion in dialog with the Nordic Council representative on this particular issue, former Danish Prime Minister Poul Schlüter.

ScanBalt is in addition currently in dialog with Nordic national authorities regarding the lacking funding of stem cell research

Partnerships and Development of Strategies

The importance of developing an overall strategy for ScanBalt BioRegion – and make the decision makers to take ownership to such a strategy - is a work which requires allies. Therefore ScanBalt collaborates with e.g. Baltic Development Forum (www.bdforum.org) and others, which can promote a positive dialog with decision- and opinion makers.

One such example is The Baltic Sea Initiative 2010 (see www.bdforum.org), which aims at formulating a strategy and an action agenda for strengthening the Baltic Sea region’s competitiveness and innovative potential. Here ScanBalt has got the task to formulate and deliver recommendations inside life sciences/biotechnology.

ScanBalt works to establish a positive dialog with all organizations focused on development of the Baltic Sea region, so that the efforts of interest and relevance for ScanBalt BioRegion are coordinated.

Contact Information

ScanBalt
c/o Baltic Development Forum
Valkendorfsgade 13, P.O.Box 1127
DK-1009 Copenhagen K, Denmark
Tel: + 45 33 70 71 30, Fax: + 45 33 14 13 94
info@scanbalt.org, www.scanbalt.org