Umeå University CMTF

R&D in Biomedical Engineering boosts the industry in Northern Sweden

CMTF1By Olof A. Lindahl
Professor in Biomedical Engineering
Director CMTF
Head of the Hospital department for Biomedical Engineering R&D

Centre for Biomedical Engineering and Physics, Umeå University and Luleå University of  Technology, and Centre for Biomedical Engineering and Radiation Physics, Umeå University Hospital.

Research and development at the science centre for biomedical engineering and physics (CMTF) has resulted in new biomedical companies and strengthened the health care in Northern Sweden. CMTF has generated growth both in academia, at the universities and in the industry in Northern Sweden. Furthermore, cooperation was built up between the 26 research projects and about 20 established companies in the field of biomedical engineering. A company for business development of the research results from the CMTF was formed by the researchers, called CMTF Business Development Co Ltd (CMTF BD). It has launched three spin-off companies since the autumn 2009. It has also increased the interest for commercial and entrepreneurship questions among the scientists and engineers in the centre. So far fourteen spin-off companies have resulted from the research in CMTF and ten more projects are in commercial progress.

The process of commercialising scientific research results is very well established in Northern Sweden. The CMTF was established in order to form an organisation for triple-helix cooperation between scientific research, biomedical industry and health care. The aims were to have intense co-operation with the health care industry and create an excellent milieu for growing new innovations and start spin-off companies to the benefit of the patient. Financially, the CMTF activities were financed through local support from regional foundations and the EU structural foundation of Northern Sweden. CMTF turned over 6 million Euro during the years 2000-2007, and had a budget of 12 million Euro for 2008-2014.

The two northernmost universities in Sweden, Umeå University (UmU) and Luleå University of Technology (LTU) have joined forces combining the strong technical research at LTU with the strong medical/biomedical research at UmU. Furthermore, there is established since 1982 a special Biomedical Engineering R&D- division at the University Hospital in Umeå within Västerbotten County Council. It performs research and development in the area of biomedical engineering and radiation physics and is called MT-FoU. This division is part of the County Council centre CMTS and located inside the hospital area. MT-FoU work very close with the clinical specialities and is therefore of greatest importance for the success of the CMTF.

The work at CMTF is organised in 26 research projects and one management taking care of the administration and joint conferences. A company, CMTF Business Development (CMTF BD) Co. Ltd., owned by the scientific leaders in CMTF and the local innovation system represented by Uminova Innovation Co. Ltd. and LTU Holding Co. Ltd., was inaugurated in 2007 to help with the business development of the scientific research results from the centre. The CMTF was established to create a strong, sustainable and virtual organisation for scientific research and business development in Northern Sweden. A further goal was to form a model for how to develop new biomedical viable spin off companies from the research results in the centre, boosting industrial growth in Northern Sweden.

CMTF is organised with a board of directors and one director, all assigned by the two universities, UmU and LTU. The board was chosen to give the CMTF a stable leadership and to reinsure a good cooperation in-between the two universities as well as with the industry and health care. The broad expertise collected in the board guaranteed high competency to make decisions on industrial, health care as well as scientific matters as representatives of the users. Before joining the CMTF, all 26 research projects were evaluated by the board concerning three criteria; scientific excellence, clinical and industrial relevance and finally scientific research management. Approved projects could use the CMTF logotype and refer to CMTF as their research milieu. About 175 researchers and supporting staff have been engaged in the work. Almost all of the projects in CMTF have both scientific and industrial cooperation with international partners both outside EU, e.g. Japan and USA, and within EU, e.g. Norway, Finland and Italy.

The company CMTF BD is completing the existing innovation system in Northern Sweden through its special emphasis to launch the biomedical engineering research results on the commercial market. In Sweden, the scientific researchers own the rights to their patentable research results and therefore the scientific leaders could sign over the intellectual property rights (IPR) to the CMTF BD company through an agreement. For identified business ideas, a contract was signed with the scientists about the sharing of future profit from the innovation, a so called incentive agreement. The company operators have links to competences in venture capital, business development, regulatory issues and other skills necessary for business development in health care. The construction of the CMTF BD made it possible to separate the non-profit research centre CMTF and the business facilitator CMTF BD Co Ltd.

Fourteen companies are so far established from research results from CMTF (Table 1). Thirteen of them were based on patents and one is the CMTF Business Development Co. Ltd. (CMTF BD). Since the establishment 2007 the CMTF BD has started three new companies for the health care market located in Northern Sweden and has 15 on-going business projects. Fifteen patents have been filed from the research in CMTF.

Table 1. Fourteen years of work with the CMTF, the amount of spin off companies and related activities.

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Twenty-five workshops have been arranged together with the health care industry and established spin off companies with a mean of 60 participants, except for one workshop that was the Nordic Baltic Conference on Biomedical Engineering and Physics in the year 2005, NBC2005, with about 200 participants and the National Biomedical Engineering conference 2010 with 350 participants. The CMTF research network and CMTF BD have stimulated the initiation of spin-off companies in the area of biomedical engineering in Northern Sweden. This has resulted in increased growth of the biomedical engineering activities both in academia and in the industry in Northern Sweden.

Umeå University CMTF
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http://www.cmtf.umu.se