Many people know the German multinational conglomerate Siemens through its wide range of electrical engineering and electronics-related products and services across sectors such as Industry, Energy, Healthcare, and Infrastructure. Since 2015, Siemens Healthineers is a separately managed company and since March 2018, a stock listed company. Siemens Healthineers has been engaged in creating the future of healthcare for more than a century and has been active in the Netherlands sinces 1994.
Research & development in MedTech for healthcare
The term Healthineers embodies both engineering and pioneering. In its development of medical technology (MedTech) solutions, Siemens Healthineers focuses on Imaging, Advanced Therapies, Laboratory Diagnostics, and Point of Care, providing advanced technologies for healthcare professionals that result in better patient outcomes.
‘We really see ourselves as an innovative company’, explains Manager Scientific Partnerships dr. Wouter Nijhof. ‘We have a lot of firsts in the medical world, especially with regard to imaging. We also work in the field of lab diagnostics. Globally, we are amongst the industry leaders, together with GE and Philips, and we keep investing into R&D to stay at the top and come up with new introductions.’
Dutch collaborative life sciences ecosystem
In the Netherlands, Siemens Healthineers, located in The Hague, has become a significant contributor to the highly connected and collaborative Dutch Life Sciences & Health ecosystem. While the R&D headquarters are located in Erlangen and Forchheim Germany, Nijhof explains why the Netherlands has become a key development base.
‘Not everybody realizes it, but the Netherlands has one of the best climates for innovative research in healthcare and really high standards of care. There is a good investment environment, and the medical professionals and facilities are amongst the most R&D-driven in Europe. These doctors are willing to collaborate, to do research, and almost all are willing to support. They have their own ideas and contribute their knowledge to develop products further.’ Nijhof asserts that Dutch doctors and researchers almost always go beyond the brief when testing new applications or solutions.
Innovation drives MedTech solutions in the Netherlands
‘In comparison with other European countries, the Netherlands is where we have the most scientific collaborations and installed base of Siemens Healthineers equipment, relative to the number of hospitals. That is because the doctors are easily approachable, they are willing to collaborate, and they put more effort in to make it a success. And if they promise something, they will deliver.’
This often gives new insights or areas of application, perhaps not thought of by the R&D department. The pragmatism and directness of the Dutch is a bonus during product development, according to Program Manager Education and Skills Management, Nicole Mooren. ‘They are not shy of revealing advantages as well as disadvantages of certain new innovative products, and in the research environment, that is very helpful.’
Collaboration with clinical hospitals and research centers
Regarding Siemens’ role within the Dutch ecosystem, the introduction of new products relies on the golden triangle: MedTech industry collaborating with researchers from (academic) medical centres and government institutions.
‘We cooperate a lot with top clinical hospitals and academic centers, where our innovative equipment is tested in the real-life setting with researchers and patients,’ Nijhof explains. Siemens Healthineers also collaborates extensively with universities of technology such as University of Twente and TU Delft, which both run the Technical Medicine curricula. Furthermore, the firm works closely together with scientific programmes like the Medical Delta and the majority of peripheral hospitals, collaborating on technological solutions for sustainable care.
Training for medical professionals
Technology is continually evolving, and training and research is, therefore, a significant aspect. This is why the company joined forces with the University of Twente to establish the TechMed Academy. Siemens Healthineers installed imaging devices at the Technical Medical Centre (TechMed Centre) at the University of Twente. The TechMed Centre enables a safe and controlled simulated healthcare environment for education of students, medical professionals and researchers, and for R&D, innovation and collaboration. Siemens Healthineers can also use it for research and training of medical professionals and physicians on current and new technologies.
Mooren explains: ‘In our partnership with the University of Twente, we have two goals. We work together on education and also on research with medical professionals, physicians and researchers. This is focused around the Hybrid OR, and the Imaging Lab where an MR system is installed.’
Netherlands an ideal environment for MedTech growth
A few years ago, the Holland Proton Therapy Center (HPTC) opened in Delft, and Siemens Healthineers Nederland B.V. provided some of the imaging equipment for treatment planning and follow-up. Mooren says Siemens Healthineers is looking forward to some exciting forthcoming technical developments, the like of which can only be achieved by working with a university of technology. Siemens Healthineers’ collaborations reach throughout the Netherlands, from Groningen to Maastricht and from The Hague to Nijmegen. The company looks to have found the ideal environment in the field of MedTech and AI in the Netherlands in which to thrive and grow.
Source: Innovation Quarter