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The Netherlands: A Fertile Garden for Innovation

Despite lacking a national champion to bolster its innovative eco-system since the 2007 acquisition of Organon by Schering Plough, the Netherlands nevertheless still sits in fourth position on the 2015 Global Innovation Index. For the healthcare sector, the country’s innovation is notably propelled by a myriad of local success-stories, and particularly by the booming Dutch biotech scene, whose players concentrate their efforts on addressing unmet medical needs, thanks to the development of cutting-edge technology. 

Kiadis Pharma, for instance, notably looks to allow “family members to become donors for allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantations (HSCT) to patients suffering from blood cancer,” a ground breaking innovation that will “increase the donor pool and almost completely hedges the life-threatening risk associated with donor immune cells attacking the patient. (..) There is no other approved treatment already on the market addressing the same unmet medical need, and there are only one or two similar medical developments underway all over the world,” explains CEO Manfred Rüdiger. In the same vein, Galapagos, a Leiden-based biotech company, is developing a safe drug for rheumatoid arthritis that could eliminate usual related side effects, such as anemia, high cholesterol or high level of infection. “In Phase II the efficacy data was the highest reported up to today,” explains Galapagos CEO, Onno van de Stolpe.

These Dutch companies are already on the radar of some of the industry’s major players. Janssen paved the way to the Netherlands in 2011, with the acquisition of Crucell, whose vaccine expertise helped launch the Netherlands-based Janssen Prevention Center. “Thanks to the acquisition of Crucell, we are now able to deepen our expertise in disease prevention for Janssen’s five core therapeutic areas. The vaccine platform is obviously particularly indicated for infectious diseases, and the Janssen Prevention Centre is now looking to apply this expertise in other key therapeutic areas, such as dementia, heart failure, and obviously oncology. We could use the immune system not only to treat diseases, but also to prevent their apparition,” explains Paul Korte, general manager of Janssen.

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