Healthcare and application-oriented medical technologies
1. The Sector in NRW
2. Aims and Tasks of the Cluster Management
The North Rhine-Westphalia Healthcare Cluster links the cluster development in the five Healthcare Regions Aachen, Cologne/Bonn, Münsterland, East Westphalia-Lippe, Ruhr Metropolis (2008) with the cluster development in key future areas of the healthcare industry, such as medical technology, the 'hospital of the future' or preventive medicine and rehabilitation. A main focus is the expansion and reinforcement of the networking of key local and regional healthcare players as engines for innovation in the sector.
The empirical examination of work in the cluster is carried out by establishing systematic methods of trend and innovation monitoring.
3. Main Areas of Work and Projects of the Cluster
With the six healthcare regions, the Cluster Management has agreed a working programme for strategy and cluster development in the regions. The knowledge and results gained in this process flow into the work throughout NRW. Cooperation between the regions is desired and is supported by the Cluster Management.
The Aachen Region has adopted the topic of "Healthcare Tourism/Medical Technology".
The Cologne/Bonn Region has adopted the topic "Health for Generations".
The Münsterland Region is working on the topic "Preventive Medicine".
The East Westphalia-Lippe Region is concentrating on "Intelligent Care for the Elderly and Chronically Sick"
The Ruhr Metropolis Region has adopted the topic "Clinic Management".
State-wide key future areas
Parallel to the development of strategy and clusters in the regions, the Cluster Management will organise three state-wide healthcare project initiatives in the period from 2008 to 2010:
- Transparency Offensive - Medical Technology, Innovation Offensive Hospital of the Future,
- Quality Offensive Rehabilitation and Preventive Medicine.
Since April 2008, the project area "Medical Technology" has been bundled into an Interregional Working Group, MedicalTechnology.NRW. In addition to discussions with experts and visits to firms and the initial impulse for a "Dialogue: Industry Meets Politics", establishment of the "Trend and Innovation Monitoring for Medical Technology" system has also made progress. Publication of the "Competence Atlas Medical Technology.NRW“ is also planned for 2009. This is intended, for the first time, to bundle and to present the strengths and innovative themes of the sector in North Rhine-Westphalia.
The launch of the second topic area "Hospital of the Future" came at the start of 2009. The topic "Rehabilitation and Preventive Medicine" is on the agenda for 2010.
Trend and innovation monitoring
The establishment of a systematic set of instruments for empirical investigation and the generation of knowledge on sector development, future trends and opportunities for action is in progress in the Working Group "Trend/Innovation Monitoring Healthcare Industry.NRW".
International Cooperations, Competitions
The topic 'International Cooperations' is a continuous cross-sectional task in the work of the cluster. Within the framework of its personnel resources, the cluster also supports the participation of players from North Rhine-Westphalia in regional or national tender processes and in competitions such as "Healthcare Regions of the Future" (BMBF, Berlin) or "Med.in NRW" (MAGS, Düsseldorf).
4. Highlights from the Cluster
Within the framework of cluster development in the healthcare regions, it has for the first time been possible to research, document and discuss in public on a broad platform the prospects for the healthcare industry throughout the six present healthcare regions. Processes of dialogue and political decision-making have been initiated here which had previously not been possible.
In addition to the work of HealthcareRegions.NRW (Gesundheitsregionen.NRW) in this network, there are four other particularly outstanding projects at state level which have been defined as "Highlights" of the healthcare industry:
- The North Rhine-Westphalia Health Campus is being established at Bochum.
- In Essen, in the West German Proton Therapy Centre Essen (WPE), work is being carried out on a precise and gentle form of radiation therapy.
- The new Max Planck Institute for the Biology of Aging in Cologne conducts scientific research on the aging process.
- East Westphalia-Lippe is defined as a telemedicine model region. The aim here is, through high case numbers, to first develop telemedicine into a regular healthcare provision.
The regular presence of the North Rhine-Westphalia Healthcare cluster at relevant trade fairs and specialist events is being maintained. For example, the Cluster Management staff were represented at the "Health Congress of the West" (12 - 13 March 2009 in Essen) and at the Capital City Congress "Medicine and Health" (27 - 29 May 2009 in Berlin). Another important annual date is MEDICA (18 - 21 November 2009 in Düsseldorf).
On 30 September and 1 October 2009, the Cluster Management is represented as a cooperation partner at the 7th Rhenish Healthcare Congress of the Rhenish Technical University of Cologne (www.rfh-gwk.de). Cluster Manager Brigitte Meier is the patroness and will present the "Female Healthcare Manager of the Year 2009" award.
Healthcare Campus North Rhine-Westphalia - Innovation in Healthcare
The state government of North Rhine-Westphalia is establishing a Centre of Competence, modelled on the American National Institute of Health (NIH), in order to concentrate the healthcare facilities that are dispersed throughout NRW in the Ruhr Metropolis area. According to the plans to date (Spring 2009), the Healthcare Campus is to provide around 500 jobs in Bochum and have a budget volume of about 75 million euros.
Facilities which are moving to or being constructed on the Healthcare Campus are:
• the Healthcare Strategy Centre North Rhine-Westphalia (being founded)
• the North Rhine-Westphalia Healthcare Cluster Management, Bielefeld
• the State Institute for Health and Work (LIGA.NRW), Bielefeld, Münster, Düsseldorf
• Zentrum für Telematik im Gesundheitswesen GmbH (ZTG), Krefeld
• the European Protein Research Centre (PURE) (being established)
• MedEconRuhr GmbH, Bochum
• the Epidemiological Cancer Register NRW, Münster; subject to approval by the shareholders and the local state parliament
• the Electronic Professional Register for Healthcare Professions (eGBR), insofar as there is a corresponding resolution at the Health Ministers' Conference.
Also planned is Germany's first state technical university for healthcare professions. With up to 1,000 study places, its spectrum will cover the following professional groups: healthcare workers and nurses, geriatric nurses, midwives, speech therapists, ergotherapists, physiotherapists.
The NRW state government also sees the North Rhine-Westphalia Healthcare Campus expressly as a contribution to a network of European healthcare and technological institutions, the development of which NRW will support while at the same time profiting from its realisation.
Network of the HealthcareRegions.NRW - Strong connections for the healthcare industry
The forward-looking, consistent networking of manpower and competences in the healthcare industry in North Rhine-Westphalia is the pressing priority of the Healthcare.NRW Cluster Management. North Rhine-Westphalia is one of the 20 largest industrial regions in the world. But only a bundling of its strengths will lead to the innovation and excellence which are preconditions for long-term success at an international level.
The North-Rhine Westphalia Healthcare Industry Cluster links the cluster development in the six Healthcare Regions Aachen, Cologne/Bonn, Münsterland, East Westphalia-Lippe, South Westphalia and Ruhr Metropolis (as of 06/2009) with the cluster development in future fields of the healthcare industry - for example, medical technology, hospital of the future and healthcare provision and rehabilitation.
The local and regional healthcare players regard themselves as engines for innovation in their sectors. Within a framework of ground-breaking topic adoptions, the networks in the NRW healthcare regions are engaged in the coordination throughout NRW of the development and profiling of selected areas of activity in the healthcare industry.
The Aachen Region has adopted the topic "Healthcare Tourism/Medical Technology".
The Cologne/Bonn Region has adopted the topic "Health for Generations".
The Münsterland Region is working on the topic "Medical Prevention".
The East Westphalia-Lippe Region is concentrating on "Regional Care of the Elderly and Chronically Sick".
The Ruhr Metropolis Region has adopted the topic "Clinic Management".
The South Westphalia Region has only been integrated into the alliance of healthcare regions since May 2009. Adoption of a topic is under discussion.
West German Proton Therapy Centre Essen (WPE) - Precise and gentle form of radiation therapy
The University Clinic in Essen is the pacemaker for advanced medicine in the Ruhr Metropolis, providing medical care, state-of-the-art diagnostics and therapy at the highest international level.
There are three main areas of research and treatment: cardiovascular, oncology and transplantation. Since 2008, for example, the Visceral Centre has been a leader in Europe in the field of transplantation.
The focus on oncology has been strengthened by the construction of the West German Proton Therapy Centre Essen (WPE). The newly constructed WPE will be part of the expanded building structures of the University Clinic in Essen.
Proton therapy is regarded as a promising approach to the treatment of cancer - especially for sensitive regions of the body. This is a modern, precise and very gentle form of radiation therapy using the charged nuclei of the hydrogen atom.
With protons, in comparison with radiation therapy with photons, more selective dosage distributions can be achieved. The range travelled by protons in tissue can be controlled by their initial energy. Their main energy is deposited in the tumour, causing maximum cell damage here, so that the tumour is rendered inactive.
In Germany, over 400,000 people are currently diagnosed with cancer every year. Radiation therapy is an essential component in the cancer treatment for about 50 per cent of these patients. The standard therapy today is a three-dimensionally planned, conformal or intensity modulated radiation therapy with photons, by means of which many tumours can be successfully treated.
Physicians and researchers anticipate further advances in certain regions and for problematic tumours from proton therapy.
The success of this project was made possible because a private consortium of firms provided the total costs of more than 140 million euros and the University Clinic is buying back shares annually through its own company. The West German Proton Therapy Centre in Essen is thereby a fine example of the ways in which expensive advanced medicine can be secured for all patients in the future.
The Proton Therapy Centre was named as an innovative institution of national importance in 2009 by the organisation "365 Landmarks – Germany – Land of Ideas", sponsored by the Office of the Federal President, the Deutsche Bank, the daily newspaper "Die Welt" and other institutions.
Healthcare.NRW - The Senate of the Max Planck Society resolved on 28 June 2007 to found the new Max Planck Institute for the Biology of Aging as part of the Life Science cluster in Cologne.
The new Institute concentrates on research of the aging process, as one of the central scientific tasks of the future. Today, the demographic development is being felt in practically all spheres of social life. At stake is the future of social security systems and the competitive capacity of industry, which will in future have to compete more fiercely for new recruits and, while maintaining the potential for innovation, will increasingly have to rely on a higher proportion of older employees.
In a five-year set-up phase, four departments and four independent junior research groups are due to start work by 2012, with a planned staff of about 300 employees. In Linda Partridge, Nils-Göran Larsson and Adam Antebi, it has been possible to secure top international researchers for the Institute.
In the set-up phase, the researchers are working in laboratories of the Centre for Molecular Medicine (ZMMK). An architectural competition was held for the new Institute building, in the direct vicinity of the University of Cologne, first prize going to a concept combining the essential requirements for research activities with areas for external and internal communication and an urban design.
The MPI for the Biology of Aging will be embedded in a network of research institutions which, as a cluster, study different aspects of aging research. In addition to the MPI, this cluster will comprise the University of Cologne, the University Clinic in Cologne, the Cologne cluster of excellence CECAD, the Centre for Molecular Medicine, research institutions in Bonn including the caesar Research Centre, the Helmholtz Centre for Neurodegenerative Disorders and the Max Planck Institutes for Neurological Research in Cologne, for Molecular Physiology in Dortmund and for Molecular Biomedicine in Münster.
After it has been put into full operation, an annual operating budget of about 15 million euros is planned. The Max Planck Society decided to locate in Cologne "because North Rhine-Westphalia possesses strong potential n the field of science and also offers the prerequisites for a successful research cluster in the Life Sciences. The University of Cologne, in particular, will make a significant contribution to this cluster," explains Prof. Peter Gruss, President of the Max Planck Society. Within the framework of an excellence initiative, the University of Cologne has submitted an application for a cluster of excellence devoted to aging research. The University is also planning a Master's degree programme in this field.
Telemedicine Model Region in NRW - East Westphalia-Lippe tests patient-oriented healthcare provision
Telemedicine has already proven its effectiveness in studies in a number of fields of medicine, for example telecardiology and teleneurology. Our aim must be to move telemedicine step by step, in concrete terms, into regular healthcare provision. The state government of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Centre for Telematics in Healthcare (ZTG) are pursuing this aim, in particular with the telemedicine action programme.
The region of East Westphalia-Lippe has been designated a Model Region for Telemedicine in NRW. In Bielefeld specific trials are being conducted to determine the provision processes into which telemedicine should be integrated, in order to ensure healthcare provision of the highest quality and efficiency. The trials, among other things, are taking place in cooperation with ZIG (Centre for Innovation in the Healthcare Industry) in EWL.
Main subject areas include the fields of emergency care and general practitioner care, as there is great potential for process optimisation in these fields and telemedicine offers optimum possibilities for raising efficiency and for quality assurance in patient-oriented provision.
The project is currently in the set-up phase. At an event on 28 October 2009 organised by the ZTG in cooperation with ZIG (Centre for Innovation in the Healthcare Industry), taking place in the Heart and Diabetes Centre NRW in Bad Oeynhausen, Dr. Walter Döllinger, Secretary of State in the Ministry for employment, Health and Social Affairs of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, will set out the basic features of the Model Region. Thereafter, representatives of relevant key players in telemedicine and the region will present their ideas and plans for the introduction of the East Westphalia-Lippe Model Region.
5. Regional Clusters and Networks in NRW
Through its constructive control of cluster development in the healthcare regions, the work of the North Rhine-Westphalia Healthcare cluster is designed for cooperation and network formation. With the networking of regional strengths and excellences in the Aachen, Cologne/Bonn, Münsterland, East Westphalia-Lippe and Ruhr regions, North Rhine-Westphalia is implementing an exemplary portfolio of ground-breaking solutions for the future of the healthcare industry. The first definite results from the work of the healthcare regions, within the framework of their topic adoptions, will be available in the autumn of 2009.
In addition, individual regions are cooperating with each other in a variety of projects and with varied intensity. The healthcare regions East Westphalia-Lippe and Ruhr, for example, have initiated the project "Bridgebuilding", which is jointly moderated by ZIG – Centre for Innovation in the Healthcare Industry, Bielefeld, and the Institute for Work and Technology (IAT), Gelsenkirchen. This is a long-term collaboration between the health spas in East Westphalia-Lippe and facilities for in-patient and out-patient healthcare provision in the Ruhr District.
6. Cross-Border Collaboration and International Networking
The cluster is permanently occupied with the cross-sectional task of maintaining international cooperation. In 2008, among other things, we supported a joint presentation by firms from NRW at Pro Care España in Madrid (27 to 29 November) and, in January 2009, our staff member Katja Hüskes represented the Healthcare Cluster at Arab Health in Dubai (26 to 29 January).
The Healthcare cluster also undertakes numerous cross-border activities, for example:
The EuregioHealthPortal provides information on medical healthcare in your area - the border region of Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.
The inter-university Erwin L. Hahn Institute for Magnetic Resonance was founded in July 2005 by the University of Duisburg-Essen and the Radboud University in Nijmegen.
LifeTecAachen-Jülich bundles the life sciences in the Euregio Maas-Rhine.