In view of the grand challenges as conceived by the European Commission, new alliances are shaped across many places in Europe. For national governments and R&D funding authorities, these alliances are an opportunity for partnering to achieve their own political agenda or ambitions. While at the same time government’s role changes as well: where Mariana Mazzucato advocates a prominent role for governments in mission driven research & innovation policy, governments are well aware that their life cycle and policy instrumentation is not geared yet to this new scope and these dynamics.
Interestingly, these new partnerships also bring about new allies, universities see their roles change as well, where new partners come to the fore: citizen initiatives that steadily build their own knowledge networks and data positions.
Technopolis Group is a strategic partner in many of these new alliances across Europe, of which the TOPFIT open health innovation alliance in the Netherlands is an excellent example. Since 2018, Technopolis Amsterdam conducts for TOPFIT  a wide range of tasks including strategic advice, policy development and strategic management, ex ante impact studies, building on the expertises that the Amsterdam team offers on research & innovation policy, open innovation, open science, citizen science, regional innovation policy, and business case analysis.

Concepts for a Healthy Life materialized in an open innovation alliance

The TOPFIT Alliance, founded in 2018 by the University of Twente, Wageningen University & Research (WUR), Radboud University, and Radboud University Medical Center, has quickly developed as an open innovation alliance. As an acknowledged ‘icon project’ of the ThinkEast flagship, it  is a knowledge and innovation coalition which on project level includes all universities (of applied sciences, Saxion, HAN and Windesheim), five other hospitals (Rijnstate, Isala, MST, St. Maartenskliniek, ZGT), vocational education (ROC van Twente a.o.). and the employers’ associations (WZW and WGV Oost), 60+ companies as well as a growing number of citizen initiatives.

In the ‘Europe of the regions’ TOPFIT is in doing so an interesting instrument for the East-Netherlands’ smart specialisation strategy. As it links Dutch national R&D programmes on Life Sciences & Health and High Tech Systems & Materials, taking stock of the technological and social innovation competences and infrastructures in this Northern-European region.

One step ahead of disease and disease burden

The East-Netherlands is internationally reputed for its high level of R&D, international hubs and social innovations. The TOPFIT Health Alliance aims to exploit the many opportunities in this thriving region to secure two additional active life years in 2030 for its citizens and to accelerate socio-technological health innovations. To that end, TOPFIT is organised in four mission-driven R&D programmes that aim to be one step ahead of diabetes, cardio-vascular diseases, renal diseases and movement disorders. R&D on key-enabling technologies is the common driver, which is interlinked with an encompassing innovation programme. This is focused on socio-technological innovations for a resilient and healthy society, that builds on citizen science and socio-technical adoption initiatives in all six sub-regional innovation clusters of the East-Netherlands.

Tech-Med-Food crossovers

The R&D and social innovation motor that make TOPFIT tick is the unique alliance of knowledge & innovation clusters in Tech, Med and Food. This unique and dynamic alliance enables TOPFIT to cater to its ambitious vision and mission to deliver personalised and technologically enabled care. This will stimulate change inhealth systems and foster an international thriving business environment for companies and investors, who aim to belong to the leading edge of health and social innovation.

A resilient and innovative European region as an ecosystem for open and citizen science

In a quickly changing world and instable international playing field, the East-Netherlands are in an excellent position to be one of the European hubs that secure a resilient and innovative society. The TOPFIT Alliance, deeply embedded in this particular European region, is a flagship in this European endeavor. As TOPFIT is partnering with ThinkEast, two interconnected spearheads are personalized, fast tracking of technologically enabled treatments for instance of diabetes. Furthermore intervention-oriented and practice-based learning programme on socio-technological innovations for a resilient and healthy society is in place. This way TOPFIT’s strategic science & innovation programmes gradually become the playing fields for open science, open data and citizen science approaches.

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