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ELSA - collaboration to ensure greater mutual success
The aim of the ELSA cluster initiative is to link the existing regional life sciences clusters with those from technology and engineer-driven sectors, i.e. automation technology, mechanical engineering and automotive supplies. Both industries have already formed strong clusters in the Stuttgart and Neckar-Alb regions and these are now set to be interlinked for the purpose of further development. Adopting a strategic approach, BioRegio STERN Management GmbH will initiate and promote the creation of collaborative agreements in these sectors in conjunction with the Göppingen-based Kompetenznetzwerk Mechatronik BW e.V. and Medical Valley Hechingen competence networks as well as Stuttgart's Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation, IPA. "This start-up financing for our new cluster initiative will help us bring the sectors closer together, for example by organising events to identify common ground and open up new areas of business and sales potential," explains Dr. Klaus Eichenberg, Managing Director of BioRegio STERN.
Product developers that originally come from the automotive industry and biotech/medtech companies are already undertaking joint development work on new high-tech products in the region. Biotechnology can make optimum use of engineers from the supplier and automation sectors to inspire competitive products and processes. High-throughput processes employing components from the field of automation technology are already in frequent use for developing suitable product candidates for the pharmaceuticals market. There is also considerable demand for automation in the cell culture sector to test suitable drug candidates, for instance, or to demonstrate the tolerance of cosmetics. The new highly complex in vitro models help here to avoid the need for animal testing.
However, such know-how is in great demand not just for developing biotech and medtech products but also for manufacturing them. Customised therapies and products will be systematically developed and produced for individual patients in areas such as personalised medicines and particularly in the field of individual therapy, e.g. tissue engineering. They need to be available for all patients in sufficient quantities and in consistently high quality in order to be accepted as standard products in medical healthcare in the future. Small batches or even genuinely one-off production, as has until now been standard at many small biotech start-ups, are no longer viable for those companies looking to successfully establish themselves on the market in the long term. Quality standards such as GMP guidelines and DIN/ISO standards also need to be complied with and this can generally be assured by using automated processes.
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