Brussels, Belgium, 26 June 2023 – The Innovative Health Initiative (IHI) Governing Board has appointed Niklas Blomberg to be the next Executive Director of the organisation. Dr Blomberg has extensive experience of working in Europe’s life science sector, and is currently Director of ELIXIR, the European life sciences data infrastructure. He will take up his duties at IHI in early 2024.
IHI is a EUR 2.4 billion public-private partnership between the European Union and Europe’s health industries, represented by the industry associations COCIR, EFPIA, EuropaBio, MedTech Europe, and Vaccines Europe. It supports large-scale, ambitious projects designed to translate health research and innovation into tangible benefits for patients and society.
"I am excited to join IHI as the next Executive Director,” said Dr Blomberg. “IHI plays a unique role in the European research and innovation ecosystem where scientists from academia, health industries, and the technology sector can work together. The IMI and IHI partnerships have a history of transformative public-private collaborations and I look forward to working with all the partners to continue the development of innovative health and care solutions."
Dr Blomberg brings to IHI years of experience in both research and leadership roles. A Swedish national, he has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Gothenburg, and a PhD in structural biology and bioinformatics from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Germany.
He worked as a research scientist for AstraZeneca in Sweden for 14 years, taking on increasingly senior roles in the company, and leading the establishment of a team for data-driven drug discovery in the respiratory and inflammation fields. During this time, he was industry co-lead of Open PHACTS, a project funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), the forerunner to IHI.
In 2013, he joined the fledgling research infrastructure ELIXIR. As its founding director, he oversaw the final negotiations between the member states to formally establish and launch ELIXIR. Under his leadership, the organisation built up its operational and project management capacity, grew to include 23 member states, and secured funding from both the member states and an extensive portfolio of EU-funded projects, including IMI projects.
IHI Governing Board chair Salah-Dine Chibout of Novartis and EFPIA said: “I am thrilled that Niklas Blomberg will join the partnership. He has the perfect experience in the areas where different scientific disciplines and public and private sector interest converge and overlap, all in the interest of advancing the latest science and technology for the benefit of patients.”
Irene Norstedt, vice-chair of the IHI Governing Board and Director of the People Directorate at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, said: “I am pleased to welcome Niklas Blomberg as the new Executive Director of IHI JU. I am confident that with his in-depth experience, the JU’s success and impact in achieving its objectives and mission will continue to expand. I am looking forward to beginning this new phase of IHI JU’s work under his leadership.”
The mandate of the previous Executive Director, Dr Pierre Meulien, ended in September 2022. Meanwhile, the IHI Governing Board appointed Dr Hugh Laverty, IHI’s Head of Scientific Operations, to serve as Executive Director ad interim. He will continue to lead the organisation until Dr Blomberg takes up his duties in mid-January 2024.
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Notes to editors
Find out more about the role of IHI Executive Director below and at www.ihi.europa.eu/about-ihi/who-we-are/executive-director
About the role of IHI Executive Director
The Executive Director has a central role in running IHI. On one level, they are responsible for the day-to-day running of the organisation, establishing and managing the administrative, operational and financial measures necessary for its proper operation. They are also tasked with appointing and managing the Programme Office staff, and overseeing the production and implementation of formal annual work programmes and budgets. At the same time, they are expected to participate in strategic and policy debates about the joint undertaking as the world-leading PPP in life science research and innovation.
More information on the tasks of the Executive Director can be found in the vacancy notice.
About the recruitment process
In line with normal practice for senior posts in the EU institutions, the recruitment of the new IHI Executive Director was handled by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Human Resources and Security. The vacancy notice was published in the Official Journal on 31 January 2022. The initial deadline was 28 February, but this was extended to 14 March 2022. The process is detailed in the vacancy notice, and the key steps are summarised below.
- The European Commission set up a pre-selection panel, which analysed all applications and identified the candidates with the best profile. These candidates were invited for an interview with the pre-selection panel. Based on the interviews, the panel proposed a list of candidates for further interviews with the European Commission’s Consultative Committee on Appointments (CCA).
- Candidates called for an interview with the CCA were also asked to participate in a full-day assessment centre run by external recruitment consultants. The CCA used its interviews and the results of the assessment centre report to establish a shortlist.
- Candidates on this CCA shortlist were then interviewed by the relevant Member(s) of the European Commission.
- Following these interviews, the European Commission adopted a shortlist of the most suitable candidates and sent it to the IHI Governing Board.
- Finally, the IHI Governing Board interviewed the candidates before making a decision and appointing the new IHI Executive Director.
Catherine Brett – External Relations Manager
Tel: +32 2 541 8214 | E-mail: catherine.brett[AT]ihi.europa.eu
The Innovative Health Initiative (IHI) aims to translate health research and innovation into real benefits for patients and society, and ensure that Europe remains at the cutting edge of interdisciplinary, sustainable, patient-centric health research. Health research and care increasingly involve diverse sectors. By supporting projects that bring these sectors together, IHI will pave the way for a more integrated approach to health care, covering prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and disease management.
IHI is a partnership between the European Union and European industry associations representing the pharmaceutical, medical technology, biotechnology, digital health and vaccine industries, namely COCIR, EFPIA, EuropaBio, MedTech Europe and Vaccines Europe. IHI’s total budget is EUR 2.4 billion. Half of this comes from Horizon Europe, the EU’s research and innovation programme. The IHI industry partners have committed EUR 1 billion to IHI, and a further EUR 200 million can be committed by other organisations that decide to become Contributing Partners.
IHI builds on the successes of the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), and the IHI Programme Office continues to manage the IMI project portfolio.