Public/private partnerships are an effective way to pool strengths in order to promote scientific research, push the boundaries of technology and shorten the path to innovative, market-ready products.
When BioMedical Materials was set up in September 2007, Jan Zuidam, the Deputy Chairman of Royal DSM at the time, said: “This consortium will enable us to utilize to the full the Dutch knowledge base in industry and the academic world. Both the economy and healthcare in our country will benefit from this.”
On January 28, 2008 Maria van der Hoeven, the then Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs, declared BMM officially open
Half way through 2008, after a first call for proposals, € 50 million was allocated to seven research projects. In 2009 and 2010 eleven others were added, boosting BMM's research portfolio to a total of eighteen projects. In building the portfolio, one of BMM’s priorities was to stimulate young and talented researchers to apply.
The projects have been selected on the basis of their scientific excellence and their potential for societal and economic value creation. For this selection, BMM is supported by an independent International Scientific Advisory Board (ISAB
). Once per year, the Board also monitors the progress of the various projects.
In 2009 the cooperation with the Technological Top Institutes CTMM
(Center for Translational Molecular Medicine) and TI Pharma
(Top Institute Pharma) also became more structured. A formal cooperation was started with the SmartMix program Translational excellence in Regenerative Medicine (TeRM
). In this way, a globally unique network of expertise was created in The Netherlands, at the interface of radical material innovation and medical science.
Early 2010 the three top institutes in Life Sciences, BMM, CTMM and TI Pharma further intensified their cooperation. After a joint workshop and a joint call for proposals it was decided to invest € 28 million in seven projects, devoted to targeted and controlled drug delivery.
Since 2009 BMM has also focused more closely on the field of education. Together with CTMM and TI Pharma, workshops on topics such as intellectual property were developed. In partnership with TeRM special programs are offered to help promote (further) training for young researchers in science and industry. In 2010 new training modules commenced for approximately 40 PhD students in the field of regenerative medicine.
The exploration of new concepts, knowledge exchange and further fine-tuning of the strategy for the future were top priorities at the first scientific annual meeting in April 2010, jointly organized by BMM and TeRM. Some 200 researchers came together and over 40 lectures were held, with the focus being on cardiovascular disease, nephrology, bone and cartilage related conditions and coatings. In the second annual meeting in April 2011, the participants concluded that BMM is well prepared for a successful Mid-Term Review in 2012.
Secretary of State Frans Weekers from the Ministry of Finance visited BMM in early 2011 and complimented the organisation on the progress made.
Mid-way through 2011 Minister Maxime Verhagen from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation published the 'top sector' policy. This emphasizes once again the strategic importance of Life Sciences for the Netherlands and the added value of multi-disciplinary public/private partnerships.