InnoTour 2018: Australian researchers exploring German healthcare sector

InnoHealth Press Release /

Friday, 9th November 2018 was the last day of InnoTour 2018, a five-day tour leading 16 Australian researchers and innovators to different institutions and companies of the German healthcare research sector. InnoTour was organised by Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft within the initiative InnoHealth Australia. Presenting the large portfolio of applied research and corporate landscape, InnoTour 2018 could contribute to the network between German and Australian actors. Thus, first joint project approaches have been identified – in basic and applied research as well as in the industrial sector. The Australian scientists were also guests at Fraunhofer IGB.

InnoHealth Australia is a constituent part of the collaborative project "International Research Marketing" between 2017–19 funded by the BMBF (German Federal Ministry of Research and Education) under the brand "Research in Germany" and executed by Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.

InnoTour 2018 started in Munich at Fraunhofer Headquarters. The Australian delegation learnt about the news of the Fraunhofer world of high-tech development by Dr. Lutz Zeitlmann, Head of Research Coordination Materials- and Life Sciences. Furthermore, they got information about business development in Germany’s medical device industry. The tour continued with Medical Valley / Digital Hub in Erlangen. Jörg Trinkwalter, member of the Managing Board, showed some of the innovations of Medical Valley. Heike Leutheuser, Managing Director Central Institute for Medical Engineering Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg, presented together with colleagues from FAU recent research activities in health and sports. The Australians were highly impressed: "This knowledge-cluster shows the excellent cooperation of science, economy and politics in Germany."

Day 2 of InnoTour led the Australian researchers to Fraunhofer IGB (Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology) in Stuttgart. Institute Director Dr. Markus Wolperdinger welcomed the group: “We look forward to fruitful discussions and intensifying our collaboration with you. Let’s stay partners!” Various keynote lectures on new processes and technologies such as modifying the interface between biology and medical devices, organ-on-chip systems, virus-based therapies and Next Generation Diagnostics met with great interest. After these lectures the delegation got the chance to visit laboratories in the lab sectors. Within the following matchmaking session, first points of reference for cooperation as well as financing opportunities were found. This day ended with a flying visit to Pharmacy Museum Heidelberg, a tourist and historic highlight for many of the Australians.

Next day, the group visited Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (IPA) in Mannheim and its project group PAMB. Besides diverse projects the Australian researchers learnt about local start-ups in the field of medical engineering. Marc Mazur, CEO PreviPharma Consulting, who already participated at InnoPlatform in Melbourne where he established valuable contacts, represented one of those start-ups. He stated: “Networking with international partners is becoming more and more important for prosperously realizing projects.” Afterwards, the delegation travelled to Max-Planck-Institute (MPI) for Experimental Medicine in Göttingen, where latest research projects in neurosciences, oncology, diagnostic and therapeutic approaches of individualized medicine as well as scientific cooperation have been presented. Prof. Dr. Nils Brose, head of department of Molecular Neurobiology, stressed: "Basic research in Germany is independent." Thus, he underlined the diversity to industry-related research as well as the broad spectrum of the German research country.

Fraunhofer ITEM (Institute for Toxicology and Experimental Medicine) in Hannover and its affiliated Clinical Research Center (CRC) were on the schedule of the following day. Scientific lectures about integrating human tissue into research and development and lab tours guided along the CRC, presented the cutting edge of in-vitro toxicology and ex-vivo methods. Again, there was the chance for intensive networking.

The last morning of InnoTour began at Fraunhofer-inHaus-Center in Duisburg, an innovation center for smart novel system solutions in rooms and buildings. After this stop, Markus Wiegmann, Managing Director of Stryker GmbH, welcomed the Australian delegation at the internationally operating company for medical technology with 33,000 employees worldwide. He discovered manifold possibilities for cooperation and like before, this stop was fruitful. Consequently, this was the unanimous opinion of the Australian experts: “InnoTour offered an intensive insight to the German research landscape. We got the chance to exchange with many stakeholders and to know new perspectives. We will definitely come back to commonly realize ideas and projects!”