Light at the end of the tunnel

It is unprecedented how the global life sciences community has been able to discover and develop solutions to one of the biggest challenges we are facing, the ongoing pandemic. Thanks to the collective support by many players, all part of the quadruple helix, built up by academia, companies, government and citizens, there is now light at the end of the tunnel.

In the EU, four vaccines have been approved and many more are underway to prevent hospital admissions and the severe consequences of COVID-19. One question which will surely come up once we start assessing the lessons learnt from this pandemic, is whether we could not see this coming. Voluminous reports, numerous roundtables and years of discussion, and yet the virus took us by surprise. 

The article of Derk Loorbach in this edition of Year in Preview, about Transition in Progress refers to an ‘expected surprise’. So, what can we learn from the current situation in a way that we will emerge stronger and more resilient for the next unexpected surprise?

Stronger and more resilient

for the next expected surprise

Nobody has a crystal ball, and the future is hard to predict. One year ago, we could not imagine how the world would look today. Looking twelve months ahead by means of Year in ‘Preview’ could be challenging as well, let alone trying to look further into the future. Nevertheless, Health-Holland is trying its best by providing you a peek into 2040. 

How do we apply our mission driven innovation policies? How can we reap the economic benefits of the key missions which the Netherlands has embarked upon? How can we achieve that in 2040 citizens will live at least five years longer in good health and that the socioeconomic differences have decreased by 30%? Read this Year in Preview and get a glimpse of the future.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results, is generally applied as a warning label when doing investments. Yet, it is my strong conviction that the key ingredients of our Dutch life sciences & health ecosystem provide for a very solid basis for future growth and success. Collaboration between stakeholders, whether they are in universities, industry, government or society at large, has always been one of our strongest virtues. 

This is how we emerged from the North Sea flood of 1953. By working together, by learning from the past, and by investing in the future. Today the Netherlands is one of the world leaders in water management and the Delta Works have been declared one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Collaboration should not be confined to boundaries. Even though we have national programs like FAST (Future Affordable Sustainable Therapies) and the National Action Program for Life Sciences & Health, the solution to a healthy future is also embedded in international collaboration. The Memorandum of Understanding between Massachusetts and the Netherlands is only one example. The Henri Termeer Transatlantic Connections Award yet another. 

By working together with the best in the world we can overcome any challenge, including the immediate threat of COVID-19.

There is light at the end of the tunnel, and the light is bright.

- Hans Schikan, Special Envoy Vaccines and Top Team member Top Sector LSH, Health~Holland