There is a lot of money being poured into health innovation in Flanders, yet companies consistently run into the same roadblocks on their path to market. MEDVIA’s mission is to bring people together to address these barriers, and to facilitate the creation of complex collaborations between different members of the ecosystem for truly innovative patient solutions.
This article was published by BioVox in the lead up to the HealthTech Summit on 23 March 2023 in Leuven, co-organized by MEDVIA and Smart Hub Vlaams-Brabant
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your background?
Ann Van Gysel (CEO of MEDVIA): “I started out in research, studying molecular biology at Ghent University in the lab of the legendary Belgian plant geneticist Prof. Marc Van Montague. I quickly came to realize that I wanted to have a broader impact in the life sciences than was possible through research in a single field. So when the research institute VIB was founded in the 1990s, I leapt at the opportunity to set up its communications team. While in that position, I worked closely with the VIB spin-offs and biotech startups and started to learn more about the biotech and pharmaceutical industry in Belgium.
“A few years later, I used that newfound knowledge to help establish flanders.bio as the organization’s CEO. It was a natural transition from there to setting up my own consultancy firm, Turnstone Communications, dedicated to providing companies and organizations in the life sciences with support for communications, marketing, and strategy. I also founded BioVox, a non-profit news platform dedicated to showcasing Belgian biotech innovation to an international audience.”
Q: What are some common challenges faced by members of the healthtech ecosystem?
Ann Van Gysel: “In Flanders, we are lucky that the government invests heavily in health innovation. But companies are still struggling to bring their products to the market. We keep hearing the same three hurdles mentioned over and over by our members: data (and particularly data sharing and reuse), regulatory, and reimbursement issues. These are real barriers preventing companies from growing and innovative solutions from reaching patients.”