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#BIO2017: A Peek at Pavilions | European Commission

March 9, 2017
Breaking Buzz is BIO’s newest blog series that reaches across the globe to bring an insider’s preview into the hottest international and partnering trends coming to San Diego for the BIO International Convention.

The €80 billion Incentive in Europe

The buzz words in Brussels right now are breakthrough, inclusion, and flexibility, as the European Commission touts big innovations underway throughout Europe. This is especially good news for SMEs who seek substantial funding, pain-free internationalization, and an environment of sustainable growth – all things backed up by nearly €80 billion available through Horizon 2020, the European framework program for research and innovation. This, plus innovative incentives, customization, and bold partnering opportunities serve as the EC’s global calling card that will be on deck at the BIO International Convention this June in San Diego, California.

“Horizon 2020, launched in 2014, is the initiative behind this €80 billion investment and is fully backed by the European Parliament. It is the biggest integrated research funding programme undertaken by the European Union ever; in fact, it’s among the largest in the world,” according to Ruxandra Draghia-Akli, the Deputy Director-General for Research Programmes at the European Commission who is clearly enthusiastic about the landscape before her. “It provides tailor-made instruments for the varying needs of health research companies and SMEs. It’s designed for companies looking for high growth – with disruptive ideas – offering them funding and aggressive business support.”

The instruments to which she refers are the very components that make up Horizon 2020: sizable grants for large collaborative projects, world-class business support and mentoring, and robust partnerships between public, private, academic and industrial researcher enterprises – each with open access to a huge common European market.

Think of it as a harmonization among scientific and regulatory experts in Member states across the EU, working together and actually delivering open and transparent policy.

Tuned-in to this harmony is Meelis Kadaja, Director of Business Development for Icosagen, a research provider for biopharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. “Participation in Horizon 2020 has given us the opportunity to redefine the identity of our company and bring a novel technology to the market that enables us to become a front runner in our field. It has served as a proof of high quality of research and innovation done for our customers and partners, and helped us to gain their trust.”

Mr. Kadaja points out that the most appealing part of participating in Horizon 2020, in addition to the €1,129,800, is the non-dilutive funding and support of innovation, and its commercialization. It promotes, in his words, a “feeling that your work matters to the EU.”

Back at the European Commission Dr. Draghia-Akli stresses, “We are looking for highly innovative SMEs with global ambitions, companies that are emboldened to grow. We want you to know for certain that Europe is open for business in a big way, and we have considerable support for SMEs operating in the life science cycle, particularly those with breakthrough innovation.”

The application process for Horizon 2020 is entirely online. To apply, click Apply Here.

To learn more about Horizon 2020 and other initiatives, visit the European Commission Pavilion at the upcoming BIO International Convention, June 19-22, 2017 in San Diego where you will find:

Ruxandra Draghia-Akli, Deputy Director-General Research and Innovation, European Commission
Carlo Incerti, Genzyme, Head Global Medical Affairs, Chair EuropaBio
Chris Austin, Director NCATS, IRDiRC Chair
Katherine Needleman, FDA Office of Orphan Products Development
Diego Ardigo, Chiesi Farmaceutici, Chair of the Therapies Scientific Committee, IRDiRC

Dr. Draghia-Akli will also be a panelist for a session entitled “Fast Track to Orphan Drugs”.

About the Session:

Tuesday, June 20th, 4:15 – 5:15
Over the last years, the number of Orphan Medicinal Products drugs being developed has rapidly increased, but most of the 6,000-8,000 rare diseases still lack proper diagnosis or treatment. However, new development opportunities stemming from the wealth of recent scientific discoveries, disease understanding and new potential targets are becoming available. This is the result of coordinated research investments and stakeholder worldwide collaborations initiated by the International Rare Diseases Research Consortium. In addition, the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency are stepping up their joint collaboration to boost the development of orphan medicines. This session aims to present opportunities for public funding and regulatory support for orphan drug development available in Europe and the US with testimonies from companies benefitting from such support and stakeholder collaboration.


Carlo Incerti, Genzyme, Head Global Medical Affairs, Chair EuropaBio


Ruxandra Draghia–Akli, Deputy Director–General Research and Innovation, European Commission
Chris Austin, Director NCATS, IRDiRC Chair
Katherine Needleman, FDA Office of Orphan Products Development
Marisa Papaluca, Senior Science Advisor, European Medicines Agency
Diego Ardigo – Chiesi Farmaceutici, IRDiRC Chair of the Therapies Scientific Committee


Dr. Draghia-Akli, Deputy Director- General for Research Programmes at the European Commission's Directorate General for Research and Innovation is a recognized leader in DNA delivery for therapeutic and vaccination applications, and has also served as an ad hoc reviewer for granting agencies including the USDA, NIH, as well as the European Union.