MATMED - Developing cross-border partnerships to boost innovation in advanced MATerials for MEDical applications

Project Summary

MATMED aims to effect major positive impacts on health and wellbeing in the North-West Europe region by breaking down the barriers that prevent product innovations from reaching both patients and the wider population. The programme supports SMEs working in the fields of Advanced Materials, Medical Devices and Regenerative Medicine, enables high-quality transnational collaborations, and accelerates commercialisation in these medical areas.

It does this by providing:

  • An online transnational network connecting SMEs, other companies, academia, research centres, regulatory, healthcare actors and investors.
  • Support for SMEs to accelerate innovation, validate new product opportunities and demonstrate new technology through Voucher funding
  • Advice for SMEs on the new regulatory framework for medical devices taking effect from 2020
  • Help for suitable SMEs to find private investment, typically from business angels, to enable their innovations to be commercialised

Why join?

MATMED aims to effect major positive impacts on health and wellbeing in the North-West Europe region by breaking down the barriers that prevent product innovations from reaching both patients and the wider population.

It supports SMEs working in the fields of Advanced Materials, Medical Devices and Regenerative Medicine, enables high-quality transnational collaborations, and accelerates commercialisation in these medical areas.

See below to read how MATMED also benefits large companies, research centres and academia, investors and regulatory framework experts.

What does MATMED offer?

As well as a transnational network - join it here - MATMED provides Voucher funding to fuel innovation, validate new product opportunities and demonstrate new technology. You can also receive advice on the 2020 regulatory framework for medical devices. And access to an extensive network of private investment.

Who is MATMED for?


The MATMED acceleration programme will open up new collaboration and commercialisation opportunities for your business. We understand that SMEs which are developing innovative MedTech products often need to collaborate with experts in a number of disciplines in order to speed up product development and reduce time to market, but find it hard to locate and connect with the right partners… and also access appropriate funding. This is where MATMED can help.

The Directory connects you with key innovators in the MedTech sector. It is easy to use, free to access, and enables collaborative projects between public research organisations, investors, start-ups and SMEs – to conduct validation studies, obtain funding and facilitate market access.

On top of this, the MATMED acceleration programme provides micro funding to undertake specific collaborative projects, and gives access to expert advice to help you adapt to the new EU regulation on medical devices and in-vitro diagnostics.

SMEs represent 99% of all businesses in the EU. Not sure if your advanced materials or medical device organisation is an SME? Try the European Commission’s self-assessment questionnaire here

Large companies

MATMED is specifically aimed at the MedTech sector across North West Europe, and brings together some of Europe’s key innovators, experts and specialists all in one place. It is the ideal environment for large companies operating in the fields of advanced materials, medical devices and regenerative medicine to connect with innovators in the industry and identify the latest innovative technologies.

The MATMED network provides opportunities to directly connect with key innovators in the MedTech sector and supports industry-wide players to source early stage product development assets.

Research centres and academia

MATMED's transnational network will open up fresh and relevant opportunities for research collaborations with industry. Unlike existing business engagement platforms, the MATMED Directory links you with a large network of companies that are either innovating or already commercialising in the same scientific fields.

Easy to use and free to access, the portal connects you with relevant contacts from SMEs and larger businesses, who are open to raising project proposals together, co-applying research or innovation grants, and setting up long-term collaborations.

As well as this, MATMED also contains a pool of expertise, including regulatory advisors and private investors – who all can contribute into an industry-academia collaboration project – and supplies expert advice on R&D challenges, market needs and regulation changes.


The MATMED transnational network will give you early investment opportunities in high potential companies in the up and coming MedTech market. Unlike existing investment platforms, groups and academic hubs, the MATMED Directory provides access to innovative SMEs and researchers with a focus in this specialist area.

Easy to use and free to access, the directory connects you with relevant contacts from SMEs and larger businesses, which are open to raising project proposals together, co-applying research or innovation grants, and setting up long-term collaborations.

Register now if you are interested in investing in companies active in the field of high-tech materials for medical applications, willing to invest in early stage and growing SME companies, and looking for an investment ready proposition supported by MATMED experts.

Regulatory framework experts

MATMED will connect you to a whole transnational network of medical technology companies looking for your expertise. It has has been set up by leaders in the fields of advanced materials, medical devices and regenerative medicine across North West Europe, in order to boost innovation in the sector.

At its centre sits an exclusive online Directory of SMEs, academic research centres, investors, regulation experts and legal consultants. Advert-free, easy to use, and free of charge, the MATMED Directory is the only one of its kind, offering unique opportunities for transnational knowledge sharing and collaboration.

As well as promoting your services within the MedTech ecosystem, you will be able to connect to SMEs that are facing significant challenges adapting to the new EU regulation on medical devices and in-vitro diagnostics. On top of this, you will also have opportunities to participate in supporting SMEs to understand how to comply with EU requirements to market their products in Europe

Project Partners

  • Center for NanoTechnology (CeNTech) Ltd.

    11 Heisenbergerstrasse

    View partner details

  • Development Company East Netherlands NV (East NL)

    40 Laan van Malkenschoten
    7333 NP (PO box 1026 - 7301 BG)

    View partner details

  • Ghent University

    281, S4 Bis Krijgslaan

    View partner details

  • MedLife

    9 Aachen-und-Münchener-Allee

    View partner details

  • The University of Manchester

    N/A Oxford Road
    M13 9PL
    United Kingdom

    View partner details

  • Aachen-Maastricht Institute for Biobased Materials (Maastricht University)

    22 Urmonderbaan
    6167 RD

    View partner details

  • Netzwerk Gesundheitswirtschaft Münsterland

    Mendelstraße 11, 48149 Münster (Germany)

    View partner details

  • Forschungszentrum Jülich

    Wilhelm-Johnen-Straße, 52428 Jülich, Germany

    View partner details

  • Brightlands

    Urmonderbaan 22, 6167 RD Geleen, The Netherlands

    View partner details

  • GM Business Support Ltd

    90 (Lee House) Great Bridgewater Street
    United Kingdom

    View partner details

Lead partner

Organisation Address Email Website
GM Business Support Ltd 90 (Lee House) Great Bridgewater Street
United Kingdom
Name Contact Name Email Country
Center for NanoTechnology (CeNTech) Ltd. Holger Winter Germany
Development Company East Netherlands NV (East NL) Niek Wellink Netherlands
Ghent University Sandra Van Vlierberghe Belgium
MedLife Christa Roos Germany
The University of Manchester Sarah Cartmell United Kingdom
Aachen-Maastricht Institute for Biobased Materials (Maastricht University) Samaneh Ghazanfari Netherlands
Netzwerk Gesundheitswirtschaft Münsterland Monique Bruns Germany
Forschungszentrum Jülich Stephan Küppers Germany
Brightlands Kurt Gielen Netherlands


Acceleration Programme

Designed specifcally for SMEs, the MATMED acceleration programme will open up new collaboration and commercialisation opportunities for your business. Access micro funding to undertake specific collaborative projects, and receive expert advice to help you adapt to the new EU regulation on medical devices and in-vitro diagnostics.

The MATMED acceleration programme offers:

  • Support for SMEs to accelerate innovation, validate new product opportunities and demonstrate new technology through Voucher funding
  • Advice for SMEs on the new regulatory framework for medical devices taking effect from 2020
  • Help for suitable SMEs to find private investment, typically from Business Angels, to enable their innovations to be commercialised

Contact your local MATMED partner to get this support.

Regulatory Advice

European legislation ensures the safety and efficacy of medical devices and facilitates patients’ access to devices in the European market. To keep up with advances in science and technology, two new European regulations are replacing three existing directives in the years up to 2022.

The new Medical Devices Regulation (EU) 2017/745 (MDR) and the In-vitro Diagnostic Medical Devices Regulation (EU) 2017/746 (IVDR) bring EU legislation into line with technical advances, changes in medical science, and progress in law-making. The new Regulations will create a robust, transparent, and sustainable regulatory framework, recognised internationally, that improves clinical safety and creates fair market access for manufacturers.

Regulatory framework

The two regulations establish a modernised and more robust EU legislative framework to ensure better protection of public health and patient safety. This, in turn, will boost confidence in our medical devices industry.

Current Directives on medical devices

Medical devices within the EU are currently regulated by three directives: Council Directive 90/385/EEC on Active Implantable Medical Devices (AIMDD) (1990) Council Directive 93/42/EEC on Medical Devices (MDD) (1993) Council Directive 98/79/EC on in vitro Diagnostic Medical Devices (IVDMD) (1998)

New Regulations on medical devices

On 5 April 2017, two new regulations on medical devices and in vitro diagnostic medical devices were adopted. They entered into force on 25 May 2017 and will progressively replace the existing directives.

The new regulations will be fully applicable in May 2020 for medical devices and May 2022 for in vitro diagnostic medical devices.

The Commission welcomes the adoption of these two regulations, which establish a modernised and more robust EU legislative framework to ensure better protection of public health and patient safety. This in turn will boost confidence in our medical devices industry.

How can you access advice?

One-to-one advice is available through MATMED - search the directory for specialists or contact your local MATMED partner organisation.

An Events Programme of expert advice will be launched in 2020.



The MATMED Transnational Network brings together North West Europe’s leading innovators and experts in the fields of advanced materials, medical devices and regenerative medicine.

Unlike existing investment platforms, groups and academic hubs, MATMED provides access to investors, innovative SMEs and researchers with a focus in this specialist area. We are more than a network – through the MATMED Acceleration Programme you can reach, prepare and pre-qualify investments across a wealth of markets.

Looking for Investment?

We provide you with access to investors and other support services to help you to become 'investment ready'. We will ensure that you have the necessary plans and presentation skills when pitching your business ideas.

MATMED offers access to:

  • Equity-based funding solutions start up, expand or scale up your business
  • Safe, trusted, established and credible alternative finance options
  • Additional support by offering skills, expertise and experience to help you to achieve your business ambition
  • Angel networks for investment into your business and to share the risks involved with you
  • Support to become pitch-ready in order to ensure the best possible opportunity in securing investment

Knowledge sharing

Referrals to other services within the MATMED Acceleration Programme that may benefit your business Search the Network now or contact your local MATMED partner organisation. Looking to Invest? A highly specialist range of high-growth investment opportunities for new and experienced investors.

The MATMED Transnational Network allows you to source opportunities tailored to your requirements - whether you seek to invest in businesses that looks to grow quickly and deliver high returns, or are looking for an opportunity to lend your sector expertise, working closely with founders to drive success.

MATMED offers access to:

  • Access to pre-qualified deal flow
  • The opportunity to invest in high-risk ventures without assuming all the risk Investment on an individual basis or as part of a syndicate
  • Access to an online platform showcasing live investment opportunities
  • Pitching and networking events giving you the opportunity to join short investment presentations and chat informally with founders and other investors
  • The chance to mentor the business you invest in
  • Ongoing support and guidance from our experienced team where required Investor readiness seminars

Search the Network now or contact your local MATMED partner organisation.

Regional Information

MATMED brings together ten leading business support organisations and research centres across four European countries. These organisations have joined forces to help small and medium-sized MedTech businesses to accelerate their international growth.

By sharing expertise and networks, and providing practical and financial support, the MATMED Transnational Network will be able to help businesses develop new products and expand into new markets.

Thanks to Interreg NWE and regional funding the MATMED programme offers you the opportunity to collaborate with partners in the following regions:

1. United Kingdom - Greater Manchester

Manchester, UK, has a wealth of world‑class research and innovation assets and is the country’s first fully devolved health and social care system with a budget of £6bn. The city offers unique opportunities to develop partnerships which deliver research and innovation at pace and scale.

Devolution provides unique opportunities to improve the cost and quality of health care and transform health outcomes for nearly 3m residents. Health care is provided for free at the point of access for all UK residents by one provider, the National Health Service (NHS). All health care commissioning takes place locally offering businesses direct access to over 30 NHS service providers.

Some of the city’s partnership strengths are:

Health Analytics

Manchester is a recognised world leader in health analytics. The city’s unique data ecosystem allows researchers to monitor consenting patients in real-time, making it the perfect location to gain real-world evidence for pre-license medicine and shorten time to market. The region was the base for the Salford Lung Study, a world first in real-world trials. The Salford Lung Study provided evidence for one drug being more effective than the current treatment of asthma.


Manchester is a global tech hub with organisations such as the BBC, Google and Amazon already based here. But the city not only attracts tech giants. Healthcare companies have located with tech companies and in health incubators to exploit the innovation infrastructure, talent pool and accelerated innovation adoption pathway to get treatments to patients faster.

The breadth of Manchester’s offering across healthcare and digital including world leading research centres is a unique offering. The Manchester Centre for Genomic medicine is one of the largest and most comprehensive genetics units in Europe. In addition, The Manchester Molecular Pathology Innovation Centre works to convert biomarkers into clinically useable tests alongside the Stoller Biomarker Discovery Centre which finds new biomarkers. For companies looking to analyse health data there is a data ecosystem in place to analyse electronic patient records in addition to genomics and biomarker data. The city is home to the only fully e-enabled National Health Service (NHS) Trust in England and is a global digital exemplar.

For businesses wanting to access the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) there are a number of centres designed to help businesses test and speed up the adoption of innovations into the health service. Among others these include:

The MedTech Centre - a specialist incubator centre for companies developing innovative products and services in the medical devices and diagnostics sector. It is a joint venture between the local NHS trust, Manchester Science Partnerships and TRUSTTECH – The North West NHS innovation service.

Manchester: Integrating Medicine and Innovative Technology (MIMIT) is the first international affiliate of CIMIT, a Boston, US based initiative of academic and healthcare organisations. A range of clinicians, scientists, health economists and investors are brought together to develop innovative MedTech through rigorous scoping/ validation of unmet clinical need and de risk investment.

To access these innovation assets and find out how Manchester can help your business grow, please contact MIDAS, Manchester’s Inward Investment Agency.

Precision Medicine

Manchester has placed itself at the forefront of this developing area of medicine. Across genomics, proteomics, imaging and biomarkers the city has a research and business base to make significant advancements in this area and has attracted over £100m in grant funding in the last five years.

A city of firsts, Manchester has already had a strong track record in innovation. From the first IVF treatment, first use of cultured bone marrow, revolutionising the treatment of leukaemia, to being the first UK city to have local control of its £6bn healthcare budget, Manchester does things differently.

A testament to the rising status of Manchester is Qiagen’s decision to create European Centre of Excellence for Precision Medicine and hub for diagnostics delivery in the city. These centres will support the translation of genomic biomarkers into clinical use and will form a part of a new genomics campus collocated on the largest clinical academic campus in Europe.

To find out what attracted businesses such as Qiagen to Manchester contact MIDAS who will be able to connect you with leading research assets and help you build a business case to move to the city of firsts.

Why Manchester?

Manchester is the only UK city to have devolved control of its health and social care budget totalling £6bn per year. City leaders have developed a streamlined innovation adoption pathway to test disruptive innovations and ensure adoption at pace and scale. Manchester is home to four universities and attracts 100,000 university students to study in the city at any time. These universities partner with companies globally across both digital and healthcare as well as provide a steady stream of graduates into the workforce.

Manchester’s therapy strengths lend themselves to precision medicine: the city is a world leader in the research and treatment of cancer. The Christie Hospital is a European leader in cancer care treating 44,000 patients a year and has one of the largest clinical trial portfolios in the UK with over 550 active clinical trials. The hospital is home to four research centres and conducts early stage research including many first in human trials.

The city is already a hub for genomics. The Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine is the largest and most comprehensive genetics units in Europe. For biomarkers there are multiple centres dedicated to finding new biomarkers and converting these findings into clinically useable tests. This centre’s all work with industry to deliver truly personalised care.

There are five universities based in the city region adding to the opportunity to work with experts to develop and test new treatments as well as provide a steady stream of graduates. Over 27,000 students study subjects relevant for life sciences companies.

Our Talent

Manchester is home to one of the largest student bodies in Europe, with a student population of almost 100,000 across the city’s four universities. There are also a further 19 universities within an hour’s drive time of the city. 70% of the UK’s clinical lab scientists are trained in Manchester, and Manchester Metropolitan University trains the majority of health professionals allied to medical science.

Our Population

Manchester has an ethnically diverse, stable population of almost 3m with a further 9m falling within Manchester’s health catchment area. The city’s population has a higher than average prevalence of long-term conditions such as diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart disease. There is a determination from stakeholders throughout the city to improve health outcomes for the population by accelerating the adoption and diffusion of innovations into the health and social care system.

A Spotlight on the University of Manchester

The University of Manchester (UoM) is the largest single-site university in the UK with world-leading research power. It is home to 25 Nobel Laureates and Research Excellence Framework in 2014 ranked 83% of its research as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. For innovation, the university is also ranked 7th in Europe in the 2018 Reuters Top 100 most innovative Universities, its innovation centre (UMI3) works with 400 inventions a year and currently manages a portfolio of 28 spinouts.

In the health region alone, the combined results of all health disciplines ranked UoM 5th in the UK for its research power. In the bioengineering and advanced materials for medicine and healthcare disciplines, there are about 250 principal investigators (PIs) with a current live research income of £135m. Over 7,000 publications were generated in the past 5 years in this interdisciplinary field from UoM with overall citations of over 122,000. Recently, UoM received significant funding for infrastructure development reinforcing its reputation in areas of advanced materials in medicine. £230m has been awarded to build the Henry Royce Institute (HRI) specifically for advanced materials, with biomedical materials being one of the institute’s core themes.

With the recent discovery of graphene, which won UoM a Nobel prize, the National Graphene Institute (NGI) and Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre (GEIC) were granted £61m and £60m respectively to advance research and innovation in graphene and 2D materials. Specifically for healthcare, a 10-year European Graphene Flagship grant of >£10m and a 5-year EPSRC grant of £5.3m have been awarded to research 2D materials for healthcare technologies (2D-Health).

UoM’s research and innovation excellence in the field comes from the intensive cross-faculty collaborations of FSE and FBMH (Faculties of Science and Engineering, Biology, Medicine and Healthcare), which are well-supported by UoM’s Institute for Biotechnology (MIB), NGI, GEIC, and the more recent HRI. The institutes specialise in different aspects with MIB’s expertise in synthetic biology and NGI’s in 2D materials; and with HRI and GEIC opening to and actively collaborating with industry and the commercial world, these together are supporting the technology to advance the field.

The capability, facilities and equipment in the faculties and institutes are start-of-the-art, namely the Health eResearch Centre (digital health), Photon Science Institute (PSI, laser suites), additive manufacturing suites, Henry Moseley CT imaging centre, Electron and Atomic Force Microscopy centres, and MHRA licensed clean rooms as some examples. Various CDT (Centre for Doctoral Training) programmes are funded and established in UoM including themes in Advanced Biomedical Materials, Regenerative medicine, Graphene NowNANO, and Biodesign Engineering.

The platforms develop well-trained future scientists to advance research/innovation ideas in the area. Various Centres of Excellence are awarded in Manchester including Synthetic Biology Research (Synbiochem), Wellcome Trust’s Cell Matrix Research, Imaging Sciences and Cancer Research and they participate in material-medicine field from different angles from early material design, material characterisation to clinical need feedbacks.

Locally outside the university, UoM is well-linked to NHS trusts and University’s hospitals for clinical trial facilities/expertise and other organizations such as Medicine Discovery Catapult (for innovation), National Institute for Health Research (NIHR, for clinical translation) and Manchester Science Park (MSP, for commercialization). With these linkages, products like Polynerve (an advanced material conduit for peripheral nerve repair) are currently in a Phase 1 clinical trial.

More broadly, UoM collaborates with universities nationwide and internationally. Many platforms and centres are co-developed, e.g. HRI has various universities as partners with UoM leading the ‘Advanced Materials’ theme, several CDTs have nationwide partners and 2 UK regenerative medicine hubs also have members from UoM to form strong linkage points. Recently, a few communication networks have also been established facilitating and strengthening collaborations, e.g. Regenerative Medicine, Biomaterials, and Medical Textiles networks.

Therefore, UoM plays a significant role in nurturing the deep heritage of science, innovation, entrepreneurship of Greater Manchester, with its own world-leading strength in research power in the material-medicine field and its consistent effort to link and collaborate locally, nationwide and internationally.

2. Germany – Münster and Köln

Köln (Aachen-Jülich)

The Aachen area (NUTS3) is the centre of the Hyperregio between Cologne and Düsseldorf in the east and Maastricht/Eindhoven (The Netherlands) in the north-west and Liege (Belgium) in the south-west.

In its core along the three nations borders it consists of 46 cities with around 1.3 million inhabitants. This makes this region ideal for research, development and innovation. The unique point of this region is to perform R&D in one area with the option to test the markets of three nations.

In the Aachen area, applied research for advanced materials and health is supported by the strong universities of RWTH Aachen (particularly the Institute for Applied Medical Engineering) and FH Aachen, as well as by the Forschungszentrum Jülich, which is one of the largest research centres in Europe. They both form the Jülich-Aachen-Research-Alliance (JARA).

Furthermore, more than 20% of the region’s GDP is generated by manufacturing industries. Yet, more than 90% of the companies have less than 10 co-workers.

In 2017, the local authorities performed a joint investigation with Prognos AG to analyse the strengths and perspectives of the region. From the seven lead regional markets identified, two were:

  • Production technology and materials
  • Life science and health

The basis for the regional strength in materials is the competences in various materials and manufacturing. This includes expertise in particularly textiles, glass and ceramics. In total, there are nearly 12,000 employees in this area with more than 3 times high specific competence relative to the German average. Another strong competence in the region is the traditional metal technologies, with around 11,000 employees in the region. This traditional area is driven by innovation into medical devices as the example of Medical Magnesium shows. This start up develops medical implants based on traditional metal know how for the application as implants in humans that do not need to be removed as they are adsorbed by the human body.

The second relevant regional strength identified is Life Science and Health, which is supported by more than 72,000 employees (employing 18.3% in Aachen) in around 5,324 companies. This includes all aspects of health, from medical devices via pharmaceutical industry to healthcare. This vibrant industrial basis is supported by MedLife as a network organisation including the Medlife Limited to perform operational supports for start-ups and small and midsized companies. Besides the network in the Aachen-Jülich area there are other local networks in Cologne and Düsseldorf on the German side as well as in Maastricht and Liege on the other sides of the bordes. The German based networks form a local cluster which is supported by the local government of the state of North Rhine Westfalia. The international partners together with Medlife have formed Biomedica as a network for international collaboration.

The local government has established 11 technology service centers range within the region. These centers provide space for start-ups as well as services. Some of are focused on support of start-ups and SME´s in the areas of material technologies like the TZ Jülich and others like the ITS Baesweiler are more focused on Biotec. The relevant technology centers are members of MedLife.

Within the area Biomedica is a network of networks and the Hyerregio project is a project funded by the local governments and run by the local technology service centers to bring together business, start-ups and knowledge providers of the three nations. The project supplies funding for transnational collaboration at different levels between knowledge providers and SME´s. The key point is that in medical often national legislation and refunding systems of the health care systems are different. Here a major benefit of the area besides the strong connection between science and business is that start-ups can test three different markets within a very small area and try to adapt their strategies for international expansion already at an early stage.

There are currently 278 companies in the Aachen area for manufacturing of pharmaceuticals and medical devices. A good example of this is Abiomed Europe, which develops micro-blood pumps, produce them in Aachen and sell them in the European market.


Münster is a Köln (Aachen-Jülich).-faceted city with strong focus on science and learning. Furthermore, the economic sector with respect to health and education is particularly strong in the Münsterland region and with a 34.8% share higher than in any other region in NRW. To improve the conditions for research, development and commercialisation, the city of Münster, the University of Münster (WWU) and the University of Applied Sciences (FH Münster) jointed forces in the “Münster Alliance for Science”. Nanobioanalytics was selected as one of the three strategic topics for further development of the region.

For advanced materials manufacturers, as well as users of advanced materials in any application within the medical field and/or regenerative medicine, the full characterisation of materials and analysis of their interactions with or in biological systems is crucial for the commercial use. Nanotechnology, nanomedicine and in particular nanobioanalytics are of strategic importance for the Münster region.

In the last 15 years, the city and University of Münster as well as the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen (with federal support) invested more than €200 million in infrastructure projects such as CeNTech, the Max Plank Institute, the Nano-Bioanalytik-Zentrum (NBZ), the Center for Soft Nanoscience (SoN) and Münster Electrochemical Energy Technology (MEET) in Münster.

Scientists from Münster are also partners in the H2020 project EU-NCL, offering systems for preclinical characterisation of medical nanomaterials for researchers and SMEs throughout Europe. Other initiatives include networks like Gesellschaft für Bioanalytik Münster e.V. and „Gesundheitswirtschaft Münsterland“ e.V., a sub-partner in MATMED. Münster is partner of the network “Ein Herz für NRW” (One Heart for NRW) that aims at developing cardiac sub-structures leading a vision of ultimately combining these structures into a biohybrid heart.

Currently many research institutes and companies are working in close neighborhood within the Münster science park. Next to CeNTech the ION-TOF GmbH as world market leader produces TOF-SIMS mass spectrometers. Key aspects of the company's activities are the analysis of (nano)materials and the development of diagnostic applications. The Max Planck Institute of Molecular Medicine investigates the formation of cells, tissues and organs. MPI Director Prof. Hans Schöler is one of the world's leading stem cell researchers. Under construction is the new Multi Scale Imaging Center (MIC) that will open in 2021. The Center for Soft Nanoscience develops responsive nanomaterials among other things.

In close proximity the University hospital (UKM) already started with the construction of a €100 million Medical Research Center. The combination of new advanced materials, nanoanalytics, medical imaging and medical research resulted in a leading position of Münster in imaging analytics in Europe, furthermore Münster has strong position in the field of nanomedicine.


3. Netherlands – Gelderland, Overijssel and Limburg


The innovation profile of the region of Gelderland, as part of the East of the Netherlands (NUTS1), is organised under four ‘flagships’, two of them very relevant for MATMED:

Concepts for a Healthy Life:

Healthcare innovation. This flagship has three focus areas: Health technology and Delivery Systems, Healthy Brain and Personalised Health and Nutrition.

Knowledge institutes in East Netherlands already show a clear focus on this sparehead at European level. Radboud University (RU) for example participates in the FET Flagship Graphene and the recently started KIC Raw Materials. University of Twente (UT) is also active in the manufacturing sector.

Smart and Sustainable Industries:

This flagship is divided into Smart Manufacturing & Materials (material development and production at nano-scale and molecular), Smart Food Production (healthy food) and Bio-Based Production (natural resources for manufacturing and energy production).

Via the connection of Overijssel and Gelderland to networks such as the Vanguard initiative and Manunet, SMEs are offered the opportunity to link up with knowledge and businesses in other European regions.


The Province of Limburg is the most southern province in the Netherlands with the regional GDP per capita of 32,000 euro. This region is unique in that it accommodates an innovative, knowledge-based, dynamic economy and, furthermore, provides a good living environment.

The region has a broad industrial base, research capacity and a matchless network manufacturers and designers. This network comprises small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), including startups, and research, knowledge and educational institutions. South Limburg has a focus on life sciences around Maastricht (e.g. Medtronic, Pie medical) and industry around Geleen (e.g. DSM, SABIC, Nedcar).

Brightlands located in Limburg is an open innovation community in a global context and connects four campuses in the province of Limburg, the Netherlands where the joint focus is health and sustainability. Brightlands combines science, business and education in advanced materials, health, food and smart services.

The campuses offer entrepreneurs, scientists and students, state of the art facilities to support development, innovation and growth. Brightlands Campus strives to achieve a leading position in the field of biomedical sciences, material science and cellular therapies by hosting many excellent industry and academic institutions.

The Aachen-Maastricht Institute for Biobased Materials (AMIBM) is a European cross-border research institute focusing on the development of advanced biobased materials. The goal of AMIBM is the development of these novel materials into innovative products with high benefit for technical and medical applications. MERLN is another Limburg institute for technology-inspired regenerative medicine, which combines creative research with the training of an interdisciplinary generation of scientists.

Moreover, RegMed XB stands for Regenerative Medicine Crossing Borders. It is a virtual institute incorporating Dutch and Belgian public (universities and governments) and private (health foundations and companies) partners that will work together to develop regenerative medicine solutions to health challenges. Lonza Netherlands covers the full range of manufacturing services, from process development to clinical trial manufacturing (phase I to III). With global Material Science leaders such as DSM, Arlanxeo, Mitsui, Sabic, Mitsubishi and many others of which several are investing in Biomedical Materials and Health Applications, it forms the perfect missing piece of the puzzle for transforming the Regenerative Medicine research field into a sustainable industry.

Additionally, many innovative start-ups are based at the campus such as Neuroplast, MosaMeat, CiMaas and Materiomics. The Lifesciences and Medtech SME network in the South of the Netherlands is organized by the LifetecZONe association. LifetecZONe covers the three Southern Provinces of the Netherlands and brings local SME together. The goal of LifetecZONe is to bring business opportunities towards SME’s so that they can grow.

Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus aims to accelerate the growth of its life science tenants. The focus lies on creating an entrepreneurial environment within a research and clinical climate. The campus buildings therefore support and encourage cooperation and collaboration among the Brightlands tenants. There are also shared buildings that support open innovation and knowledge sharing. As well as tenants of Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus, the location is home to a specialized referral, clinical and general hospital, and a network of specialized clinics. It also has an internationally renowned university faculty for Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, an excellent faculty for Psychology and Neuroscience, and a world-renowned exhibition and conference center. The on-site Knowledge Transfer Office (KTO) has the facilities to support the entire value creation chain, from idea through proof of principle and proof of concept up to and including proof of market and even market introduction.

The RIS3 Zuid-Nederland does not merely focus on economic sectors and within these on thematic priorities per sector. It contains a more generic approach towards the identified priority sectors/cluster and the cross-overs between these sectors. The focus on sectors and clusters entails various aspects, including the processes by which they develop and enhance their competitiveness. R&D and innovation increasingly take place in innovation networks, open or otherwise. Innovation in ecosystems is an essential distinguishing principle in achieving a position at the forefront, particularly when cooperation based innovation, so called open innovation, is involved. Businesses are becoming increasingly dependent on their suppliers, knowledge institutes and other companies when it comes to innovation and technology development.

The availability of a broad range of SMEs increases flexibility and possibilities for specialisation. Regional embedding and innovation ecosystems play a crucial role here. This is expressed by, among other things, the phenomenon of proximity in networks and clusters, the creation of conditions for (pre-competitive) cooperation in the fields of R&D and innovation, the sharing of facilities, mechanisms for technology and knowledge transfer, support for the valorisation of research and business start-ups, IP management and colocation on campuses.

The strategy has been further specified in roadmaps for some sectors/clusters within the framework of the Operational Program 2014-2020. Related to the Chemistry, Materials and health cluster, following roadmaps have been drawn up:

  • Innovation Program Biobased South Netherlands;
  • Innovation Program Performance Materials South Netherlands;
  • Innovation Program Life Sciences & Health South Netherlands (underlying Roadmap Biomedical Materials & Regenerative Medicine).

Instead of starting a new strategic planning process, the process was geared towards building and capitalising on the deep-rooted, time-tested tradition of triple helix cooperation and the resulting strategies, strategic networks and implementation programs. This process entailed the collaboration of companies, knowledge and research institutes, regions and cities. It was a process that also clearly took into account the scale of the region: large enough for focus, critical mass and cohesion but open and diversification-oriented at the same time.

In addition to the efforts to be made on existing clusters, the region´s strategy is to further develop a number of new or emerging clusters and promote cross-overs between clusters. It will aim at areas where the combined forces of the business and knowledge community can result in achieving or maintaining technological or market leadership. This may be in a B2B market, B2C market or in very specific niche markets. The foundations on which we will be building are sturdy ones and there is a great deal of growth potential in the Advanced Materials and Life Sciences & Health clusters. Various cooperative ventures are working on the development and, just as important, the roll out of new technologies, products and related services. The areas with growth potential are those that deliver innovative solutions to societal challenges including health care and advanced materials.

4. Belgium - East Flanders and Flemish Brabant

Flanders’ healthcare innovation landscape

The healthcare industry can count on the presence of world-leading ecosystem for research and business development in Flanders.

Apart from numerous business and research players in life sciencesmedical technologypharmaceuticals and medical biotechnology, Flanders is also home to pioneering university hospitalsstrategic research centres and various other innovation partners for both the health and care industry.

Innovation partners for the health and care industry

Strategic research centres

  • Imec – As Flanders’ centre of expertise for nanotechnology, imec plays a key role in developing electronics for the healthcare industry. The research centre also develops, among other things, advanced microsystems for diagnosis and long-term treatment (such as neuroprobes, lab-on-chips and chips for DNA sequencing). Additionally, imec has vast expertise in digital technology specifically for health and care applications: the development of robotic care assisting services, the automation and optimization of medical devices, prosthesis production, care services planning, etc.
  • VIB – As Flanders’ institute for biotechnology, VIB performs basic research in numerous life sciences domains for pharmaceutical, agricultural and industrial applications. Some of its research areas relevant to the health and care industry are cancer, cardiovascular medicine, inflammation and immunity, neuroscience, etc.

Find out more about Flanders’ research centres.


  • BioVille – Limburg-based bio-incubator that focuses on start-ups, companies and other organization in the health and care industry.
  • BlueHealth Innovation Center – Located at StartupVillage in Antwerp and supported by Microsoft, the BlueHealth Innovation Centre was created through the fusion of MIC Vlaanderen and BlueHealth Antwerp. Its goal is to drive digitization in healthcare and guide health-tech start-ups when it comes to coaching, financing, internationalization and more. To that aim, the innovation centre has government agencies, healthcare providers as well as knowledge and industry players among its members.
  • StartupVillage – With StartupVillage, Antwerp provides affordable office space for innovative start-ups. This, in the city centre near Antwerp’s main incubators and other start-up initiatives. In addition to the BlueHealth Innovation Centre and a base of the imec research centre for nano- and digital technology, StartupVillage is also home to CoFoundry – an incubator of the Cronos Groups that helps start-ups with a minimum viable product find growth financing. What’s more, accelerator Netwerk Ondernemen offers promising growth companies networking opportunities and access to specific expertise through its extensive network of company leaders.
  • CareVille – Headquartered in the province of Limburg, Careville provides a real-life test environment for companies and (care) organizations looking to develop an innovative answer to both current and future care needs of the elderly, specifically in terms of mobility.
  • Feed Food Health Campus – Located in Tienen (which holds the reputation of being a ‘food town’ thanks to the presence of numerous nutrition companies), the FFH Campus consists of a science park, an incubation centre and a high-end innovative companies zone. Its goal? To support the development of innovative, healthy food and feed products as well as technologies for food production and distribution.
  • Happy Aging – Happy Aging, formerly known as LifeTechValley, is a community of business managers, academics, healthcare providers and seniors that work together to increase the quality of care for the aging population by boosting innovation.

Cluster and sector organisations

  • FlandersBio – Sector federation for the life sciences in Flanders.
  • beMedtech - Federation of the medical technology industry.
  • Healthcare Belgium – Established by the most prominent local hospital groups, Healthcare Belgium offers unique collaboration opportunities, such as: academic and clinical knowledge transfer, centres of excellence, health technology implementation, patient treatment improvement.
  • Agoria’s Healthcare Technology Club – Supports companies that supply products, solutions and services for the local or international medical sector. Examples include: eHealth, electro-medical appliances, medical consumables, sterilization and diagnostics solutions.
  • Flanders’ Care – A program of the government of Flanders, Flanders’ Care focuses on driving innovation and entrepreneurship in the care industry. Its mission is to enhance the quality of care services in a demonstrable way through innovation, and to stimulate corporate responsibility in the care economy. Flanders’ Care offers access to practical and financial support to help care entrepreneurs grow their business, along with innovation funding, advice and guidance.

University and university hospital clusters

In Flemish Brabant

Leuven University and University Hospital

The expertise of Leuven University and Leuven University Hospital in life sciences – from medical technology and medicines to food and health – is clearly expressed in the Health Sciences Campus. Home to 8,500 employees (including 1,300 researchers) and 2,000 beds, the campus enables steady cross-pollination between research and patient care.

Leuven University also has various healthcare research centres, including:

  • Leuven Medical Technology Centre (L-MTC) – L-MTC coordinates dozens of research groups in biomedical and engineering sciences. Its areas of expertise include: medical imaging, robotics and automation in healthcare, bionic systems, controlled administration of drugs, tissue regeneration and biomonitoring.
  • Centre for Drug Design & Discovery (CD3) – This technology transfer platform supports innovative projects for small molecule drug discovery. Over the years, CD3 has taken the first steps in developing new medicines for AIDS, hepatitis C, cancer, arthritis, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, etc.

In Brussels

VUB and Brussels University Hospital

University research centres

  • Centre for Neuroscience – Coordinates and optimizes all neuroscience research activities at VUB and UZB, and mainly focuses on Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, neurovirology, sclerosis, cerebral infarction, affective conditions and central regulation of peripheral disorders.
  • Centre for Reproductive Medicine (CRG) – CRG plays an international and pioneering role in the development and improvement of reproductive techniques, including in-vitro fertilization, embryo transfer and freezing, new schedules for controlled ovarian stimulation, egg cell donation, etc.
  • Diabetes Research Centre (DRC) – DRC develops knowledge, methods and strategies for the early diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diabetes.
  • Oncology Research Centre (ORC) – ORC combines different types of expertise, conducts studies and shares information in the field of oncology. The research centre provides opportunities to optimize and facilitate basic, pre-clinical, translational, psychosocial, clinical and public health research. 
  • Cardiovascular Centre – The Cardiovascular Centre at UZB boasts internationally-renowned expertise in all subspecialties of cardiology, from interventional cardiology and electrophysiology to non-invasive cardiac imaging and cardiac rehabilitation.

University departments

  • Department of Industrial Microbiology & Food Biotechnology – Conducts research in the use of new functional starter cultures that contribute to food safety and/or provide organoleptic, technological, nutritional or general health benefits.
  • Department of Electronics & Informatics – One of its strategic lines of research encompasses the generation and processing of physical images with medical applications, including 2D/3D imaging and 3D cameras, mm waves and THZ sensing. 
  • UZ Brussels Radiation Oncology Department – This department of Brussels University Hospital is the world’s first centre to use the Vero system. This novel system makes it possible to locate tumours more accurately, leading to better treatment.

University laboratories

  • Laboratory for Molecular & Cellular Therapy.
  • Brussels Structural Biology Lab – This laboratory has an ultramodern Bio-Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) centre at its disposal. NMR technology makes it possible to determine the dynamic structure of proteins, with promising results in the context of pharma research.
  • Cellular & Molecular Imaging Lab – Conducts pioneering research into in vivo imaging of cancer and immune cells.

In Limburg

The province of Limburg, is home to 11 hospitals and healthcare institutions (i.e. more than 4,000 hospital beds and a staff of 10,000+), as well as healthcare industry enablers, such as:

  • BIOMED (UHasselt) – With a staff of 140+ researchers and technicians, the Biomedical Research Institute offers novel biomedical research and services in such fields as neurosciences and autoimmunity, cell physiology and biophysics, and morphology and histology.
  • LifeTechLimburg – Partnering with Hasselt University, various hospitals and other organizations, LifeTechLimburg is a platform for promoting and enabling the development of biomedical life sciences, medical technology and healthcare in the region.
  • LCRP – The Limburg Clinical Research Program aims to reinforce medical-scientific platforms for better patient care. Three examples:
    • Mobile Health Unit – This multidisciplinary expertise center for mobile health (mHealth) applications studies the possible role of mHealth in improving illness prevention, diagnosis, rehabilitation and management in various clinical domains.
    • UBiLim – Short for ‘University Biobank Limburg’, UBiLim centrally collects, processes and stores well-documented and high-quality human tissues for research purposes.
    • Rehabilitation & Assistive Technology – This platform is currently under construction.
  • HospiLim – Organization that brings together eight Limburg-based general and specialist hospitals as well as four psychiatric hospitals. 

In East Flanders

With more than 1,000 beds, a staff of 6,000+ and over 3,000 patients per day, Ghent University Hospital is one of the biggest and most specialized hospitals in Flanders. Working closely with Ghent University, the hospital is investing heavily in both infrastructure and technology to transform into a Health Campus by 2020.

Meanwhile, Ghent University boasts several centres of expertise and research groups in the field of health and care. Some of them include:

  • Department of Basic Medical Sciences – The goal of research at this Ghent University department is the application of basic sciences in translational medicine at the preclinical level. To achieve that, the department can count on dedicated research groups for:
    • Anatomy and embryology;
    • Medical stem cell biology;
    • Medical physics;
    • Physiology;
    • Radiobiology;
    • Tissue engineering and biomaterials.
  • Inflammation Research Centre (IRC) – IRC studies the molecular mechanisms of inflammation. In doing so, it focuses on investigating molecular signalling pathways in inflammatory cells and structural skin, lung, gut and brain cells.
  • Centre for Medical Genetics – Focusing on medical services, research and education, the Centre for Medical Genetics provides its expertise for the diagnosis and care of patients with hereditary diseases. Meanwhile, the centre strives for a better understanding of hereditary diseases, translating this knowledge into education in a variety of disciplines.
  • Bimetra – Supports the translation of (basic) research into clinical applications from ‘bench’ to ‘bedside’.

In Antwerp

Thanks to its close ties with Antwerp University (UAntwerpen), the Antwerp University Hospital (UZA) is a renowned academic centre for leading patient care, education and scientific research with a major international dimension.

  • UZA research departments and labs – For a wide variety of healthcare domains: cardiology, clinical biology, haematology, immunology, metabolic disorders, molecular imaging, neurosurgery, ophthalmology, paediatrics, physical therapy and rehabilitation, psychiatry, sleep disorders, thoracic oncology and surgery, and vascular research.
  • UAntwerpen Centres of Excellence – Several of the Centres of Expertise are relevant to the health and care industry:
    • VAXINFECTIO – The vaccine and infectious disease institute brings together the expertise of various labs in medical microbiology, experimental haematology and the evaluation of vaccines.
    • Infla-Med – The Infla-Med Research Consortium of Excellence conducts fundamental research in the pathophysiological processes of inflammatory diseases.
    • GENOMED – Short for ‘GENOmics in MEDicine’, the GENOMED is centre of excellence participating in emerging frontline life sciences research in proteomics, genomics and metabolomics.
    • FAMCARE – Centre of excellence for family dynamics and care.


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