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international focus. Open Innovation

The concept of Open Innovation (in which companies and entrepreneurs consider ideas from external sources for new commercial opportunities alongside internally-generated ideas), has been embraced by many Chinese High-Tech Zones and industry sectors. I had the opportunity to see this in action for medical technology and regenerative medicine through a mission organised by the Science Bridges China programme run by the University of Bradford, UK ( in April 2011. The main event was an open innovation workshop held in Changzhou (a city of nearly 3.5m people situated in the Yangtze Delta region with National Advanced City in Development of Science and Technology status). Hosted by the Changzhou Science and Technology Bureau, the workshop was attended by Chinese academics and companies and visiting academics from Bradford, Leeds and Sheffield together with four UK MedTech or RegenMed companies (see Figure 2). Following a day of presentations from each organisation represented, all delegates had the opportunity to hold one-to-one meetings to discuss project ideas and collaborations. By the end of Day 2, 64 project ideas had been generated. Ideas were filtered and those considered to be the most interesting by delegates were refined further and worked up into preliminary project proposals. At the end of Day 3, seven projects – each with at least one UK and one Changzhou partner – were defined to be taken forward to a fully costed proposal stage. The Changzhou Municipal Government has made funding of RMB 2,000,000 (around £180,000) available to each successful project and six outline projects submitted full applications. All funded projects are expected to be able to realise a commercial opportunity (product, patent, licence) in two to three years. The outcome of these proposals should be known by the time Regen goes to press.

Figure 2. UK and China participants in the Changzhou Open Innovation workshop, April 2011

New opportunities for Regener8

Following two successful rounds of Open Innovation in Changzhou, Science Bridges China and Regener8 are exploring opportunities to use the same process for a workshop for regenerative medicine companies to be held in Guangzhou. Projects are likely to eligible for funding to at least the level of the Changzhou projects – possibly to a significantly higher level. We are currently considering plans to invite Regener8 academic and industrial members to a workshop and associated programme in the first quarter of 2012. We hope to have more details available at the 2011 Regener8 annual meeting so please look out for these and be prepared for the exciting opportunities for partnership that this could open up. The rapid pace of development will be matched by the emergence of China as a vital market for healthcare and, increasingly, advanced medical technologies so partnership with Chinese institutions and companies is likely to be a realistic route for companies in the emergent UK RegenMed space to establish a presence in China. Although there will always be challenges in working with a different system, the opportunities to work with leading academic and industrial partners makes for an exciting time ahead. Next year is the year of the Dragon. Regener8 members should look to share in the success, happiness and enterprise associated with this symbol!


McMahon DS, Thorsteinsdottir H, Singer PA & Daar AS (2010) Regen Med 5 35-44

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Figure 1. Stem cell publications per year by country for 2000–2008. Data were generated using ‘stem cell’ or ‘stem cells’ as a search topic for the years 2000-2008 (From McMahon et al (2010)).



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