The activities of Life Sciences & Health 010 (LSH010) were officially transferred to Rotterdam Square on Wednesday, March 22, 2023 during the well-attended Kick-Off. The symbolic place for this was the Garden of Connectedness in the Erasmus MC. ‘Rotterdam Square will become the village square where education, researchers, entrepreneurs and government come together.’
Biocheck founder Patrick van Luijk talked about his route with BioCheck from startup to scale-up during the Kick off.
It is a quarter past twelve on Wednesday afternoon when the sound of a gong reverberates through the Garden of Connectedness in the Erasmus MC. Just has Ellen Smith gave the instrument a good blow. The director of Rotterdam Square thus marked the end of an era, but above all the beginning of a new phase. After more than eight years of encouragement and promotion, the municipality of Rotterdam confidently hands over the baton to Rotterdam Square. This is the quarterly campus organization for the new Erasmus MC Campus, which will further develop the life sciences & health sector in the Rotterdam region and take it to an even higher level.
The fact that it was a warm transfer was evident from the many smiling faces among the 200 attendees and from the festive program. The professionals present from healthcare organizations, innovative companies in the field of life sciences, educational and research institutions reflected the target groups that Rotterdam Square wants to connect here. ‘In that respect, the Garden of Connectedness is a symbolic place,’ said Ellen, who also made the link with the name Rotterdam Square. ‘We want to create a village square, where people meet, challenge and strengthen each other. But Square also represents the square in which education, research, entrepreneurs and government work together. With Rotterdam Square as a connecting link.’
Municipality remains involved
Rotterdam Square is supported by the municipality of Rotterdam, councilor Robert Simons (Port, Economy, Catering & Governance) said at the start of the Kick-Off. ‘The municipality of Rotterdam remains involved and is proud that partners from the sector are now taking the lead. The LSH sector is one of the city’s largest employers and one of the region’s most important economic sectors. In addition, important innovations come from here, which are important in view of the increasing aging population and staff shortages. That is why we wholeheartedly support Rotterdam Square.’
From left to right: Ernst Hoestra, Stefan Sleijfer ,Varsha Thakoersing, Constantine of Orange
The importance of good collaboration between healthcare, technology and entrepreneurship was the common thread during the meeting. It was emphasized in a panel discussion between Stefan Sleijfer (Chairman of the Board of Directors of Erasmus MC), Constantijn van Oranje-Nassau (Special Envoy Techleap.nl) and Varsha Thakoersing (Partner and CEO at startup IMcoMET). Sleijfer emphasized the challenges in healthcare. ‘If we continue like this, one in two people will have to work in healthcare by 2060 to guarantee quality and accessibility. That is why we must bring digital innovations to society faster. That requires entrepreneurship. This cross-pollination between science and entrepreneurship can arise at Rotterdam Square. I hope that in a few years we will have launched a few products that will make a real impact.’
Playground for adults
There was also plenty of room for stories from entrepreneurs. For example, Varsha Thakoersing talked about her company IMcoMET, which is working on a revolutionary way to combat (skin) cancer from the Erasmus Incubator in the Rotterdam Science Tower. ‘It is very valuable for us to be close to Erasmus MC and all the specialists. I really think doing business in the LSH sector is a playground for adults,” said Varsha, whose inspiring call to think primarily in terms of opportunities led to great applause.
Rotterdam has made significant progress in recent years
Constantijn of Orange-Nassau nodded approvingly upon hearing those words. “Rotterdam has made significant strides in recent years,” said the prince, who is associated with Techleap.nl as a Special Envoy, a non-profit organization that helps build a thriving startup ecosystem in the Netherlands. ‘Rotterdam has focused outwards and is actively seeking cooperation – both throughout the Netherlands and internationally. This ensures that this region in South Holland is well on its way to becoming the start-up center of the Netherlands. Rotterdam Square can accelerate that development. In addition, we must work hard together to make the route from idea to market as efficient and short as possible.’
Pearls of the city
Top from left to right: Patrick van Luijk & Sade Faneyte
Bottom from left to right: Douwe Jippes & Willem Mees van Bijl
Four other companies, renamed Pearl of the City, also inspired with their stories. For example, Patrick van Luijk from BioCheck talked about his route from startup to scale-up and Sade Faneyte from Maasstad Hospital about the added value of data in the care path of patients. Douwe Jippes from investor Healthy.Capital spoke highly of the Rotterdam LSH ecosystem. ‘You won’t find such a beautiful mix and such a beautiful focus as in Rotterdam anywhere else in the Netherlands.’
Willem Mees van der Bijl from Dune Innovation talked about the added value of locating within Erasmus MC. ‘You must have a square, literally and figuratively, where you meet each other. Only then can you properly bring great medical-scientific innovations to the market. We had that square during the LSH010 events. And with Rotterdam Square we will soon even have a permanent place here.’
The circle was thus nicely completed and Ellen Smit was able to herald the next phase for the LSH sector in Rotterdam with a bang of the gong. A blow that was received with approval and enthusiasm by all those present, who then also enjoyed a performance by spoken word artist Burnice and trumpeter André Heuvelman who beautifully translated the theme of solidarity culturally.
From left to right: Douwe Jippes, Varsha Thakoersing, Ernst Hoestra, Ellen Smith, Patrick van Luijk, Sade Faneyte, Stefan Sleijfer, Robert Simons, Willem Mees van Bijl, Constantine of Orange, Hicham Shatou.
Source: Life Sciences & Health 010
Date: March 28, 2023