No ecosystem support blueprint
There is no one-size-fits-all approach suitable for every NSR region in regard to setting up regional support programmes for healthcare innovations. Factors that are likely to determine which approach is best for which region include the type of organisations delivering the start-up business training, the accessibility of that training, i.e. physically and electronically, and the type of audience or attendees—i.e. the amount of time individuals have available, the cost of the training and so on.
Before a regional programme that supports innovation in the healthcare economy is set up, the existing building blocks, geographical layout, stakeholders in place and other factors, should be analysed in order to fit the local needs and make the programme sustainable. Also, each region should set up a programme with clear and concrete ambitions. From the perspective of the SHINE project, two focus points received special attention:
Support for healthcare professionals to better understand entrepreneurs and teach them to co-create innovations and/or vice versa. The healthcare sector has not yet focused on collaboration with companies in order to improve healthcare—instead, the focus has been on achieving more efficiency and on HR and organisational issues. This new approach can boost the implementation of new products and/or services in the healthcare sector but needs a different—more entrepreneurial—mindset at both the healthcare professional and healthcare board of directors levels, and a more open view by SMEs who want to do business within the healthcare sector.
Support for healthcare providers, as well as start-ups and scale-ups, to evaluate and (re)design their role in the regional healthcare economy and their cooperation with stakeholders. This includes the knowledge and skills to set up shared business models and public–private partnerships. Taking into account the unique ecosystem of the healthcare sector, the stakeholders must realise that the traditional business models are not sufficient to provide impactful solutions today. Therefore, it’s necessary to develop a new approach for integrated business models with shared values.
Several lessons were learned from the regional support programmes in the SHINE project. These are summarised in the SWOT scheme below.
- All programmes took the local needs into account when formulating the curriculum.
- Programmes taught new entrepreneurial behaviour that participants were able to put into practice.
- Since the SHINE project, it seems that the entrepreneurial ecosystems have been boosted throughout the regions.
- The inclusion of mentors in some programmes helped transfer skills from experienced entrepreneurs to the starting participants.
- Since these local ecosystems were virtually non-existent before the SHINE project, it was hard to find partners that had the required experience.
- When suitable partners were found, it posed a challenge to not become too reliant on these partners for the sustainability of the programmes.
- When programmes demanded a large time investment over a long period, frequent dropouts occurred.
- The three regions have the networks in place to provide more mentorship by experienced entrepreneurs in the field, which fits the needs of current and future participants.
- The strengths of each separate regional programme can be implemented in every region to further develop the local programmes.
- Since there was no shortage of participants, it is likely that there is room for growth in all three regions.
- Regions without a tech-transfer philosophy can have a hard time ‘farming out’ ideas.
- Limited or no follow-up restricts the long-term effectiveness of the programmes.
- The sustainability of the programmes could be in danger since the programmes are either too dependent on their partners or work with partners that do not have a long-standing track record.