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Innovative Health Initiative launches first five projects

Addressing cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, and bringing on board sectors as diverse as pharmaceuticals, medical technology, big data and imaging, the projects exemplify IHI's cross-sector approach.

14 June 2023
A sprinter at the start of a relay race. Their shoes are bright yellow/green and the baton is pink
Image by Real Sports Photos via Shutterstock

Brussels, Belgium, 14 June 2023 – The Innovative Health Initiative (IHI) has launched its first five projects. The projects address key challenges in health research that will benefit from the public-private, cross-sector approach exemplified by IHI. These include the use of big data, imaging and diagnostics to advance cancer diagnosis and treatment, and the creation of digital platforms to improve the care of people with neurodegenerative diseases plus other health problems.

Between them, the new projects have a total budget of EUR 129 million, around half of which comes from Horizon Europe, the EU’s research and innovation programme, and half of which comes contributions from the industry partners in the projects and IHI contributing partners.

“The launch of our first projects is a major milestone for our partnership,” said Hugh Laverty, IHI Executive Director ad interim. “I am excited by the potential of these novel, multi-stakeholder, cross-sectoral consortia that we are funding to generate very real impacts on the care of people with diseases that affect millions of Europeans, including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.”

GUIDE.MRD – better blood tests to detect cancer

Patients with early-stage cancer frequently undergo surgery to remove the tumour. Today, it is often hard to determine which patients need additional treatment (such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy) to destroy any remaining cancer cells which may have escaped the surgeon’s scalpel. This is important as many treatments come with multiple side effects, so treating patients unnecessarily may cause more harm than good. At the same time, not treating patients who need it allows the cancer to reoccur and potentially spread. The GUIDE.MRD project aims to address this challenge by investigating how blood tests could be used to identify which patients might benefit from additional treatment, and which patients would likely not benefit from treatment. The project focuses on patients with lung, pancreatic and colorectal cancers.

IMAGIO – more precise cancer treatments, with limited side effects

While many cancer treatments are effective at killing off cancer cells, they also cause a lot of harm to healthy cells, resulting in serious side effects for patients. The IMAGIO project focuses on interventional oncology (IO). In IO, imaging techniques are used to guide miniaturised instruments through the patient’s body to the tumour site. Once there, the treatment can be applied directly and precisely to the tumour, sparing healthy cells from any damaging effects of the treatments. IMAGIO will explore and demonstrate how next generation IO imaging techniques can be applied to cancer research and treatment, from laboratory studies to clinical trials, with a focus on lung and liver cancers and soft tissue sarcoma.

IDERHA – a big data platform to advance lung cancer diagnosis and care

Recent years have seen an explosion in the generation of health data from diverse sources. This data has the potential to help advance both research and patient care. However, accessing, integrating and analysing it is extremely challenging. The aim of IDERHA is to set up an open platform that will facilitate the integration and analysis of diverse types of health data. The platform will link up multiple public and private data sources and put in place interoperable tools and services that will make it possible for key groups, such as doctors, patients and researchers, to use the data. To focus their efforts, the IDERHA team will use lung cancer as a use case to design the platform.

CLAIMS – taking a holistic view of people with multiple sclerosis

In multiple sclerosis (MS), the immune system attacks the central nervous system, causing symptoms such as fatigue, mobility problems, pain, vision problems, and more. Diagnosing MS and selecting the best treatment for each patient is extremely challenging. One reason for this is that many people with MS also have other physical or mental health problems. The aim of the CLAIMS project is to develop a diagnostic platform that would offer clinicians a holistic overview of the MS patient. The platform would apply artificial intelligence models capable of accurately predicting how the patient’s MS would likely progress with different treatments.

PROMINENT – a coherent approach to the care of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other health problems

The majority of people with Alzheimer’s disease have other health problems, such as cardiovascular, psychiatric and musculoskeletal diseases. This makes it even harder to diagnose and manage Alzheimer’s disease. The aim of PROMINENT is to set up a digital platform that will improve the diagnosis and personalised treatment of people with Alzheimer’s disease coupled with other diseases. It will draw on existing artificial intelligence tools to create an open, interoperable platform capable of interacting with multiple systems to integrate data from sources such as medical records, mobile devices and imaging repositories. 

The IHI members – the European Commission and the health industry associations COCIR, EFPIA, EuropaBio, MedTech Europe and Vaccines Europe, all welcomed the launch of the new projects.

“Today we are stepping up our efforts to turn health research and innovation into truly tangible benefits for patients and society as we sign the grant agreements for the very first IHI projects. I am confident that this milestone will unlock the great potential of the European research community and reconfirm the strength of public and private collaboration. By supporting IHI and funding new research into high-burden disease areas, the EU continues along its path of delivering scientific breakthroughs in health research and care.”
 - Irene Norstedt, Director, Directorate "People", Directorate-General Research & Innovation, European Commission

“We are thrilled to see the first projects of the Innovative Health Initiative under way. The awarded projects will contribute to increased access to healthcare, improved diagnosis and better therapies, and we are excited that COCIR members are contributing with their expertise in next-generation Imaging, image-guided technologies, and health data know-how.”
 - Annabel Seebohm, Secretary General, COCIR

“We are excited to see the launch of the first cross-sectorial IHI projects. This milestone reflects and materialises IHI’s ambition to accelerate the translation of science into solutions and health impact, and we look forward to seeing the next steps.”
 - Magda Chlebus, Executive Director of Science Policy & Regulatory Affairs, EFPIA

 “The first major milestone of IHI through the projects launched represent a significant success for European cross-sectoral collaboration for the benefit of patients. Bringing together industry across five major European associations plus research and critical stakeholders at a global level, shows the strength of Europe in leading long-term advances in healthcare where the complexities of a healthy society can be successfully addressed.”
 - Claire Skentelbery, Director General, EuropaBio

"MedTech Europe companies are proud to join forces with other industries to make Europe an attractive innovation ecosystem in healthcare. We are excited to see the first cross-sectorial IHI projects signed and launched, to start addressing several unmet healthcare needs. Cooperation between the medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors, and between public and private stakeholders, provides huge opportunity to deliver better healthcare for EU patients. "
 - Oliver Bisazza, Chief Executive Officer, MedTech Europe

"Public-private partnerships such as IHI are instrumental for driving innovation and supporting a strong research environment in Europe. The launch of the first cross-sectorial IHI projects is a significant step towards bringing the benefits of innovation and digitalisation in health research."
 - Sibilia Quilici, Executive Director, Vaccines Europe

# ENDS #

Notes to editors

Press contact

Catherine Brett – External Relations Manager

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About IHI

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.