ReproUnion – Platform for Driving Reproductive Health Innovation

In the Nordics, fertility rates have declined below what is required to sustain the size of the population, making involuntary childlessness a growing societal problem. Today, infertility is the most common chronic disease in the age group 20-45 years, affecting between 15-20% of couples. In the future, even more are expected to suffer from infertility due to factors such as age, lifestyle, and environmental exposures. Projections show that due to an increased demand for fertility treatments the industry is expected to grow by approx. 16% globally between 2020-2027.

To meet the growing demand for advanced fertility treatments, the pace of innovation needs to increase. The project intends to achieve maximum utilization of the region’s innovation potential in reproductive health by establishing an innovation platform for increased collaboration between academia-clinic-industry-civil society, which, already within the project period, will lead to the development of new diagnostic methods and targeted interventions that improve both prevention and treatment of infertility.

The main goal of the project is to create a more patient centered care for infertile patients by establishing an innovation platform that:

1) Make available and leverages the cross-border research infrastructure, previously established by the partnership.

2) Serves as a test bed where the research infrastructure is used in collaborative projects to develop, test, and validate external parties’, private and public, innovations.

3) Supports innovation projects in academia and public hospitals in close dialogue with industry, incubators, and other innovation actors with the aim of developing new technologies as well as individualized preventive, diagnostic, and therapeutic methods that can be implemented in healthcare.

4) Creates the conditions for shorter processes from idea to innovation by optimizing the dialogue between public-private regional actors within networks for innovation exchange.

The cross-border research infrastructure is a prerequisite for increased innovation. Tailoring disease prevention and treatment with a precision medicine approach requires access to large amounts of patient material and data. Through the project, cross-border research infrastructure, in the form of scientific expertise, advanced analysis methods, patients, samples and data, is made available to both the Danish and Swedish healthcare, academia, and industry.

In addition, there are activities aimed at making research infrastructure accessible and bringing together healthcare, world-leading expertise in the field of reproduction and private actors, as well as trying to eliminate national barriers and creating an open dialogue between academia and industry to develop and validate innovations.

Furthermore, knowledge and experience of commercialization are required to bring new methods and products for diagnostics and treatment to the market. This is mainly done through patent protection of the new discoveries. The rights can then either be licensed out to a larger company or commercialized through a start-up company. Experience of licensing and start-up activities can be found in the universities’ innovation and commercialization activities.

By joining forces and bridging clinical and academic activities with the industry and civil society, complex collaborations arise as well as the potential to solve complex challenges together. Through the project’s innovation platform, the industry gains access to cutting-edge expertise and research infrastructure, adding to the overall competitiveness of the industry. We also expect the new entrepreneurial setting will inspire the utilization of public research in patents and future spin-outs. Overall, the collaboration contributes to increased innovation, through new and more patient-centered methods, which at the same time contributes to a more efficient healthcare in the region.