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Collaboration between the university and companies is necessary in the field of medicine

Published on 15.1.2024
Tampere University
In the MET Research Day, which combines companies and research, university researchers presented their research to companies and students in December. Photo: Jukka Lehtiniemi
Faculty of Medicine and Health Technology (MET) of Tampere University collaborates widely with different kinds of organizations. Collaboration between the university and the companies benefits both counterparts. For the companies on the field of medicine, cooperation with the university is also a matter of credibility.

“The societal communication and impact are key in why we collaborate widely with different kinds of companies. We help companies with our own expertise in this strictly regulated field”, explains Antti Vehkaoja, tenure track professor from the Tampere University.

Wide collaboration also guarantees that the results of the research won’t be unutilized. The results will be used for example in product development straight away. Collaboration between the university and the companies also develops the relevance to the working life in education and research. By collaborating, both counterparts will know better the needs and offering of each other.

Personal contacts in the middle

The right contacts and networks play a crucial role in the collaboration between the MET faculty and companies. It’s beneficial to know the right people for your company in the field. If the company representative doesn’t have the contacts, they can always contact the faculty or the collaboration team of the Tampere University.

Usually, the needs of the company are so specific that a personal meeting and finding the right person will lead to the best result. In the future, the MET faculty will develop the visibility of the research infrastructure on the website of the faculty.

The collaboration is done with companies in different parts of their time line

Vehkaoja encourages companies who are interested in collaboration to take contact in the most early stages. The faculty collaborates with many kinds of companies in different stages and also helps the companies in the beginning. Contacting doesn’t tie to anything and the goal is to clarify if the university has anything to offer to the company.

“We can sparr business ideas and tell how we are able help starting companies. No one will steal a good business idea”, Vehkaoja laughs.

Good collaboration enables focusing on the strengths

BioNavis Ltd. makes surface plasmon resonance laboratory equipment for scientific research and for research and development purposes. Multi-Parametric Surface Plasmon Resonance (MP-SPR) devices of BioNavis Ltd can be used e.g. measuring molecule binding interactions and affinities very sensitively without labels. In practice these devices are used for example in drug-related research in designing the compounds and their efficacy. Chief Scientific Officer of BioNavis Ltd., Dr Sanna Auer, says that they have been cooperating with the Tampere University for a long time.

“Every now and then we have certain kinds of more research related subject which we would like to try and measure. In that case, we try to find a research group from the university which works around the same subject. If the group will be interested, we might give our device to their use. We get user experience on that and it will also help the research group,” tells Auer.

The collaborations have been good and very often the end result is pleasing for both sides. The research group will utilize a top quality device and the company will get valuable help with marketing, while the device might be mentioned in an article or from colleague to another in the academia.

For a small company, the university's equipment is also important, and centralizing expensive equipment purchases is worthwhile. Of course, there are facilities for traditional in-house product development, but for more exotic applications, different laboratories and testing opportunities are needed, which the university can offer.

“With close cooperation, all parties can focus on what they are good at and thus benefit each other,” says Auer.

Multidisciplinary networking moves you forward

Ville Hevonkorpi, CEO of SCHOTT Primoceler, which develops smart medical implants, sees cooperation with the university as essential. The company, which originated from the Tampere University of Technology, employs many people with technical education, and networking with medical experts is therefore important.

“Working in the field of medicine also requires us to have medical expertise and a connection to the university. The company would not be reliable in the industry without it. For example, obtaining tissue samples for product development would be impossible for an engineering company or an individual without cooperation with the university,” says Hevonkorpi.

SCHOTT Primoceler currently has cooperation especially on the personnel and research side, as a doctoral researcher works in the company. The supervisors of the dissertation are from the university, but working in the company's premises creates a close working life connection. The dissertation steering group has experts from both the university and the business side.

“We are already using the university's research infrastructure, but it will be increased even more. The subject of the dissertation in progress is also related to implant testing and the development of test equipment,” says Hevonkorpi.