Our mission

The Cluster InnovativeMedicine.NRW was launched in 2011. On behalf of the Ministry of Science of the State of North-Rhine Westphalia, we support stakeholders in research, industry and medical treatment in developing pioneering medical procedures.

Our goal is to translate innovations into medical treatment that is targeted to the patient’s needs and takes social aspects into account.

In order to tap into the multiple competencies available in North-Rhine Westphalia, we have defined trends that help identify and handle key medical issues in the State for the betterment of medical treatment.

Our services

Networking

North-Rhine Westphalia’s innovative medicine just one click away: Our contact database contains valuable information on fields of activity, existing partnerships and the network structures of registered institutions. Use the opportunity to present yourself beyond the State’s borders as a key player in North-Rhine Westphalia’s medical and medical technology sector by registering on our database!

Go to our public database to search for science & research institutions, healthcare, service and industrial companies, as well as self-help groups, and to find qualified network and cooperation partners.

Partnering

We promote transdisciplinary innovation partnerships, particularly in the innovative medical fields of personalized medicine, life-oriented treatment, digitalization, biologization and human-technology interaction.
Through our active networking, we support the formation of project consortia and assist in the search for qualified cooperation partners.
We use expert workshops to bring stakeholders in individual areas of expertise together to find ways to overcome existing innovation barriers.

Information

We host information events on current funding opportunities provided by the State of North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany and the EU.
Find the latest news and events in the field of innovative medicine in North Rhine-Westphalia on our website.

Counselling

We support young enterprises and research alliances in getting funding.
We facilitate contacts with stakeholders in the financing sector (venture capital, crowdfunding and business angels).
We provide support with regard to regulatory issues such as refunding and approval.

Location Marketing

We promote North Rhine-Westphalia as a location for innovative medicine with its outstanding medical research, its excellent healthcare infrastructure and its highly innovative and broadly diversified business landscape.

We represent North Rhine-Westphalia through our communication channels (website, newsletter, publications) and take part in regional and national congresses and fairs. We organize trade fair booths shared by companies and organizations from North-Rhine Westphalia to make them visible to an international audience.

Fields of medical innovation

Biologization

Negative interactions frequently caused by the use of synthetic and exogenous materials present a major challenge to medicine. Hope for remedy is offered by innovative procedures that help to improve implant compatibility by using biologic or bioactive substances or endogenous materials. In the long run, biologic materials or artificially “engineered” endogenous structures for replacement are to provide an alternative to organ transplantation.

North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) is a vibrant centre of research and has numerous suitable clinics that can pave the way for innovative therapies towards patient care. In addition to a strong pharmaceutical industry, NRW has many small and medium-sized biotechnology and medical technology businesses that are capable of transferring these therapies to industry.

The Cluster InnovativeMedizin.NRW supports the implementation of “biologization“ in medicine by means of its strong regional network of relevant stakeholders along the value chain. The cluster has particularly strong experience potential and excellent network structures in the field of “biohybrid medical systems“: The “Ein Herz für NRW“ (“A Heart for NRW“) flagship project, which was initiated by the cluster, focuses on the development of a heart purely based on biomaterials and endogenous substances as a homogenous replacement organ.

Digitalization

Information technology applications are the key drivers of innovation in medicine. In addition to technically innovative products, the collection and evaluation of large amounts of data allow a large step forward towards personalized care.

Many companies have already successfully established themselves in the “medical IT and computer science“ segment and are well positioned both at the national and international level. North Rhine-Westphalia is characterized by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with vibrant innovation activities. They are particularly strong in the fields of data management, software systems for hospitals and private medical practices, and e-health.

The Cluster InnovativeMedizin.NRW supports the State of North Rhine-Westphalia in
- pointing out diversification options in medicine for local IT/ICT businesses
- establishing digital strategies in medicine in order that
- the potential provided by the cooperation between IT/ICT and medicine can be tapped for the benefit of users and patients.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s strong scientific base in the medical disciplines as well as in IT and engineering is a strong locational advantage which is increasingly to be harnessed by combining these disciplines with support of the cluster.

Human-Technology-Interaction

Human-technology interaction is defined as the reciprocal link between the human neuronal system and technical components. In this context, information technology is particularly used to support motor, cognitive, and sensory skills.

Neuromedicine as an important sub-specialty connects medicine with neurosciences and will be one of the key topics in medicine for decades to come. In addition to medical aspects, it addresses fundamental issues regarding the relationship between “humans” and “technology”. Neuromedicine focuses on diseases that often become chronic – e.g. diseases of the nervous system such as dementia, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, but also mental disorders, pain, and sensorimotor disorders.

Technological procedures used in neuromedicine include neurostimulation, electromedicine/sensor technology, biomechanics, robotics, IT, and telematics. For example, patients benefit from innovative protheses that are controlled by nerve impulses or from IT-based therapy assistance systems that are successfully applied, among other things, in the rehabilitation of sensorimotor disorders (e.g. after strokes).

North Rhine-Westphalia offers a high level of expertise in neuroscientific research and holds a strong position when it comes to providing medical care for patients with disorders of the nervous system or mental disorders. One of the biggest challenges is the implementation of neuroscientific research findings into clinical strategies.

The Cluster InnovativeMedizin.NRW also promotes community formation and the initiation of promising projects by intensely connecting stakeholders in the field. In the field of sensorimotor rehabilitation, the cluster organized two state-wide forums that were aimed at establishing cooperation for research projects and the development of novel care concepts in connection with viable medical technology, and at clearly demonstrating the range of competencies in this field existing in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Personalization

Personalized medicine or precision medicine includes targeted prevention as well as therapies that are tailored to the needs of each individual patient. Personalized medicine, which is based on individual dispositions (such as genetic or physiologic characteristics) and environmental factors, can contribute to the sustained improvement of the health care system.

On a biomedical level, personalized medicine enables determination of individual risks for disease through diagnostic tests, definition (stratification) of clinically relevant patient groups, and selection of suitable therapies with minimal side effects. It also enables monitoring of the respective course of treatment. With regard to medical technology, personalized medicine focuses on the development of unique therapeutic means – e.g. protheses and implants tailored to the individual patient.

North Rhine-Westphalia is well positioned when it comes to personalized medicine: There are a number of research institutions and companies that successfully operate in the field. The government of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia has actively promoted R&D activities in the field of personalized medicine early on by initiating the “Fortschritt NRW“ (“Progress NRW“) research strategy and organizing specific promotional activities and events. A successful event in the field is the Personalized Medicine Convention (PerMediCon), an international congress and exhibition for personalized medicine.

Personalized medicine poses new technological and economic challenges to the stakeholders in patient care, research, and industry as well as health insurance companies. The Cluster InnovativeMedizin.NRW promotes communication between stakeholders in North Rhine-Westphalia along the entire value chain and supports transdisciplinary research projects. The cluster thus directs activities towards patient-oriented and technologically supported medicine and plays a catalyst role in promoting North Rhine-Westphalia’s position in the field of personalized medicine.

Life-course approach in personalized medicine

The life-course approach in personalized medicine is based on the assumption that social conditions (income, level of education) play a crucial role in the development of disease besides individual factors (such as gender and age).

An analysis of conditions typical of a person’s course of life form the basis of life-course oriented medicine. The aim is to develop effective measures for the prevention, therapy, and rehabilitation of diseases in certain population groups. Protecting health and influencing the course of life early on are of particular importance.

With regard to life-course oriented medicine, research in North Rhine-Westphalia is focused on paediatric and adolescent medicine as well as occupational and geriatric medicine. Whereas occupational medicine looks at the correlation between a person’s job and his/her state of health or disease, paediatric and adolescent medicine and geriatric medicine investigate the impact of the social environment and individual behaviour on the development, prevention, and treatment of disease. The goal is to identify correlations and risk factors and deduce effective measures. This requires cooperation by non-scientists and experts from the fields of psychology, sociology, epidemiology/statistics, computer science, as well as other medical disciplines.

Thanks to its excellent network, the cluster can help to find the key stakeholders in the field of innovative medicine for such transdisciplinary cooperation and to connect them with one another.

Pilot initiatives

The NRW-Heart-Project (initiated in 2015)

Cardiovascular diseases are the most common cause of death worldwide. For patients suffering from heart failure, transplantation or implantation of an artificial heart as an interim solution is often the only possible life-saving measure. However, fewer donor hearts have become available in recent years and sufficient, purely technical solutions are lacking. Biohybrid structures that consist of a combination of biomaterials and endogenous substances provide a promising approach for well-tolerated organ replacement that is stable in the long run.
The activities of the “Ein Herz für NRW“ (“A Heart for NRW“) translation network are aimed at developing cardiac sub-structures through joint projects that are based on the shared vision of ultimately combining these structures into a biohybrid heart.

The structural goal of the initiative is to combine the State’s competences in this project in order to improve medical treatment of patients with cardiovascular disease through the development and clinical introduction of novel treatment concepts. In addition to the scientific success and the excellent benefits provided to many patients, such a collaborative project also strengthens NRW’s visibility when it comes to health care.

Smart.Health.Data.NRW (initiated in 2016)

  • How is the age of digital medicine affecting the therapeutic decision-making process?
  • How can the smart use of health data improve patient safety and treatment quality?
  • What is the role of doctors, companies and society in this context?
SmartHealthData.NRW is an initiative of the Cluster InnovativeMedicine.NRW, which focuses on digital innovations through the use of health data. In the discourse with legal, ethical and social perspectives, innovative applications for medical care are developed. The objective is to consolidate and expand the excellent position of North Rhine-Westphalia in medical research and development.

The SmartHealthData.NRW initiative and its innovation scenario combine medical, technical and social innovation lines, which, through their intelligent linkage, pave the way for the vision of a patient-oriented use of medical data for science, research and industry. The initiative focuses on four significant subject branches:

I. Automation & modeling: self-learning systems
II. System integration & data quality: interoperable data infrastructure
III. Usability & Empowerment: user-oriented application structures
IV. Transparency & Dialogue: communicative systems

Human-Technology-Interaction: Nerves and Senses (initiated in 2017)

Human-technology interaction describes the mutual connection between the human neural system and technical components. The use of information technology mainly serves in the fields of motor skills, cognition and sensor technology.
The initiative "Nerves and Senses" deals with disorders of the central and peripheral nervous system, the sense organs as well as the psychologic disorders which are triggered by (chronic) diseases or accident events. The aim is to maintain, restore or improve endangered or lost motor, sensory, cognitive and emotional human abilities through the use of technological processes.

Promising prospects for North Rhine-Westphalian companies are created by linking neuroscientific knowledge with innovative care approaches. North Rhine-Westphalia offers a high level of neuroscientific research as well as a strong position in the medical care of disorders of the nervous system and psychology. The Cluster InnovativeMedizin.NRW promotes community formation and the initiation of projects through intensive networking of the stakeholders in this field and contributes to presenting the range of competences of North Rhine-Westphalia in this field vividly.

MobileConnectedHealth.NRW

As part of the digitalization of our healthcare system, mobile devices and diagnostics are able to collect patient data for therapeutic and scientific use – at any time and anywhere. This offers new perspectives for personalized healthcare, especially for disease prevention, in (emergency) care and in chronic disease management.

So far, the usage of mobile devices particularly in the field of chronic diseases in the German healthcare system is restricted to pilot projects and isolated applications. In order to implement innovative health services into our care system, there is a demand for a systematic development of implementation concepts and business models.

The initiative “MobileConnectedHealth.NRW” initiates and supports innovative solutions that allow the use of mobile devices in routine medical care and in research, in order to increase the efficiency and safety of our healthcare system.
North Rhine-Westphalia offers a wide range of excellence and competencies in the fields of telemedicine and medical IT/ICT. Our activities will further strengthen the position of North Rhine-Westphalia as an excellent location for digital healthcare and promote key areas such as:

* the usage of mobile devices for research and development, with a focus on clinical studies and disease monitoring,
* the prevention and management of chronic diseases,
* the support of rural healthcare by the implementation of telemedicine and telemonitoring and
* the development of appropriate business models.
 
Europäische Union