Medtech innovation is all about collaboration and working with global partners. In Magdeburg, the state capital of Saxony-Anhalt in Germany, the ‘Stimulate’ research campus is bringing together public and private partners to drive inventions that can become commercially successful.

“Stimulate was established as one of nine research campuses in Germany. They are funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and aim to link the expertise of public and private partners to enhance innovation,” explains Professor Georg Rose, chairman of the executive board at Stimulate.

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“Magdeburg has a long track record in imaging. We wanted to build on this with a research campus bringing together industrial and academic partners to research innovative, image-guided, minimally invasive techniques for diseases such as cancer, and common neurovascular and cardiovascular conditions. As a result, we started Stimulate as a solution centre for image guided local therapies with a set-up phase in 2013 before ramping up fully in 2015.”

Since it was set up, Mr Rose says Stimulate has helped boost Saxony-Anhalt’s profile as a location where innovative products and techniques are produced through the development of start-ups and the establishment of firms in the Magdeburg Port of Science.

“We strengthened our standing further in March 2020 with the completion of a new building in the Magdeburg Port of Science,” says Mr Rose. “This 3300 sq m research campus includes 1200 sq m of laboratory space with a total of 17 state-of-the-art labs.” 

He adds that Stimulate has encouraged infrastructure development in the region. “The Stimulate research campus initiated and provided the impetus for the central vision of establishing the Magdeburg Port of Science as the Medical Engineering Science Harbour (Mesh). Within Mesh, partners from science and business as well as spin-offs and established firms, are creating a new kind of cooperation based on synergies,” he says.

“This is enhanced by co-working spaces, as well as methods and services that encourage an ecosystem that supports creativity, problem solving, innovations and startups — all of which are attractive to young employees and graduates.” 

International partnerships

In addition to establishing local links, Stimulate has been developing international partnerships — particularly with the Athinoula A Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Harvard Medical School in the US.

“As a result of contacts that we established with Harvard Medical School in 2017, two of our experts were posted to the US to expand their knowledge of the technical development and implementation of special [magnetic resonance tomography] components called RF coils. The result of their stay was a functioning prototype of a special RF coil for paediatric applications,” explains Mr Rose.

The two institutions signed a long-term collaboration agreement in June 2018. “We agreed a scientific exchange programme in which several renowned scientists from Boston will come to Magdeburg,” says Mr Rose. “Additionally, joint projects with a focus on minimally invasive diagnostics and therapy are planned. Plus, the deal includes opportunities for student exchanges.”

He says cooperation with other organisations around the world is crucial for sharing expertise and optimising resources. “Medical technology is a global growth market with a high rate of innovation. German medium-sized companies have been able so far to secure competitive advantages due to the strength of their innovation. Because of sharply increased competition and cost pressures, more stringent regulatory requirements and new challenges posed by digitisation, the industry is currently undergoing a profound process of change, particularly in Germany and Europe,” he explains.

“Internationalisation is key to us securing our market position. Positioning ourselves in the world's largest market — the US — is also necessary in order for us to remain competitive in the long term.”

In association with Investment and Marketing Corporation (IMG) Saxony-Anhalt. Writing and editing were carried out independently by fDi Magazine.

This article first appeared in the December/January print edition of fDi Intelligence. View a digital edition of the magazine here.