Our international Work

Oslo Cancer Cluster aims to enhance the visibility of oncology innovation made in Norway by being a significant partner for international clusters, global biopharma companies and academic centres.

– Our goal is to support our members in their effort to attract international partners, investments and successful academia-industry collaborations, says International Advisor Jutta Heix.

Heix is responsible for the cluster’s international initiatives, cluster network and partnering activities.

– Back in 2008, Oslo Cancer Cluster was not visible internationally, and few people knew about oncology innovation in Norway. We began to seek out partners and actively approach international pharma companies and other clusters offering relevant synergies, says Heix.


Building relationships abroad

The relationships thrive on joint initiatives. These include invitations to Norway with tailored programmes, where potential collaboration partners can meet academic teams, start-ups and biotechs. Oslo Cancer Cluster has also joined forces with other hubs and clusters internationally.

One such collaboration is the International Cancer Cluster Showcase (ICCS) at the global biotechnology gathering BIO International Convention in the US. In 2017, it is arranged for the 6th time, with European and North American partners, including the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center, The Oncopole in Québec, The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, Medicen in Paris and BioCat in Catalonia.

– This year the ICCS will showcase 24 innovative oncology companies from nine international innovation hubs and clusters. Three of our member companies in Oslo Cancer Cluster will use the opportunity to pitch their products and ideas to a global oncology audience, says Heix.

Jutta Heix is Oslo Cancer Cluster’s international advisor.


European and Nordic arenas
Meeting places are important in Europe too, with BIO-Europe, BIO-Europe Spring and Nordic Life Science Days at the top of the list. Oslo Cancer Cluster is the oncology partner at the Nordic Life Science Days. As a region, the Nordic countries are of international importance in the field of cancer research and innovation, especially in precision medicine, and Oslo Cancer Cluster participates in advancing Nordic collaboration.

Oslo Cancer Cluster also engages in more cancer specific European events. One example is the Association for Cancer Immunotherapy Meeting (CIMT), which is the largest European meeting in the field of cancer immunotherapy, also known as immuno-oncology.

– Many of our members are active in the field of immuno-oncology, so for a couple of years we have organized an event called CIMT Endeavour with German partners. The aim here is to discuss and promote translational research and innovation in immuno-oncology, says Heix.


Hot topics

Cancer immunotherapy has had a major impact on cancer treatment and global research and development in the cancer field. The concept took off with the approval of the first immune-checkpoint inhibitor, called Ipilimumab, in 2011. It offered a ground breaking new treatment for melanoma. In 2013, Science Magazine defined cancer immunotherapy as the breakthrough of the year. Since then, immunotherapy has been dominating the agenda of oncology meetings.

Other hot research and development topics are precision medicine and the increased digitization of the health sector. Oslo Cancer Cluster incorporates these topics in the international work, and aims to expand the services it provides for its members. The cluster recently got funding from Innovation Norway to do this, by adding an EU-advisor to the team.

– We want to increase our members’ involvement in EU’s research and innovation programme Horizon 2020. The new EU-advisor will help our members identify relevant funding schemes, find partners and prepare the applications, says Heix.

This initiative has already started to show some results. In the spring of 2017, Oslo Cancer Cluster member OncoImmunity AS won a prestigious Horizon 2020 SME Instrument grant, tailored for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). This grant targets innovative businesses with international ambitions — such as the bioinformatics company OncoImmunity.

 

New meeting places
– Member needs are important for us, as it is for clusters in general. Our network is for the benefit of our members. A good way of leveraging the network, is by creating relevant initiatives and new meeting places – to keep things moving forward, says Heix.

Oslo Cancer Cluster has new international initiatives coming up. One is in immuno-oncology, bringing Norwegian biotechs to the well-established research communities on the US East coast. The biotechs will get training and support, and will meet academic medical centres and biopharma companies in Boston and other cities. This initiative is supported by Innovation Norway’s Global Growth programme.

Another new initiative takes on academic innovation. More good ideas from academia should make it into patents, start-ups and investment opportunities for industry partners.

– Stanford University has a programme called SPARK. We are working with Norwegian partners, including The University of Oslo Life Science and The Norwegian Inflammation Network (NORIN), on implementing a Norwegian SPARK-programme. This will be part of the global SPARK-network, and we are already building a European node together with Berlin and Finland, Jutta Heix says.

New Board Members

Our newest board members are officially introduced! 

On the 24th of May in 2017, the general assembly meeting took place and fatefully decided Oslo Cancer Cluster’s newest board members. These members, despite having some big seats to fill, will take on a respectful duty belonging to the board: where professionals in the field function as the governing body for the company.

The Wish
Oslo Cancer Cluster wished to see their new board members possess backgrounds from both the University of Oslo and Oslo’s University Hospital, where experience in innovation and clinical expertise follow. They also wished for a pharmaceutical representative with international involvement. Seeing the results, it seems like the wish came true.

Innovation and Clinical Expertise
Inger Sandlie is one of the new members . She is a professor at the Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo, and research group leader at the Department of Immunology, Oslo University Hospital. She is also deputy director of the Centre for Immune Regulation. The centre identifies and investigates novel mechanisms of immune dysregulation to advance the development of therapeutics.

Sandlie has co-authored more than 120 publications, supervised 15 PhDs, received awards for scientific innovation and is co-founder of Nextera A/S and Vaccibody A/S. She presently consults for Syntimmune A/S (Boston, US) as well as Albumedix A/S (Nottingham, UK), and serves on the board of the technology transfer office of the University of Oslo (Inven2) and The Norwegian Radium Hospital Research Foundation.

When asked why, in short, she has become a board member, Sandlie responded:

– I work within a network of scientists and biotechnology companies, and thus I think it’s extremely important to use this network alongside Oslo Cancer Cluster in order to influence positive change, as well as using its potential the best way possible.

Our other newest board member, Professor Øyvind Bruland, has a two decades experience as consultant oncologist at Radiumhospitalet, Oslo University Hospital. His main and tenure position is as professor of clinical oncology, University of Oslo. He specializes in primary bone and soft tissue cancers as well as skeletal metastases brought on by prostate and breast cancer. He has co-authored approximately 200 publications and supervised more than 20 PhD candidates. Bruland is one of the founders of the successful Norwegian biotech companies Algeta and Nordic Nanovector. He is also a co-founder of Oncoinvent.

When asked the same question as Sandlie, Bruland responded:

– I’m impressed with what Oslo Cancer Cluster has accomplished, but I think within certain areas like commercialization, some “new thinking” and support is needed. It’s important that we don’t get lost in bureaucracy.

International Pharma
Our third and final new board member, Benedikte Thunes Akre, has experience as a medical director at AstraZeneca, a global science-led pharmaceutical business with great success. On top of this, Thunes Akre has a long line of experience working with oncology throughout her career. Her response to why she has become a board member, was as follows:

– My main interest and experience throughout my career has been focused on oncology. The field is constantly emerging and I would like to contribute ensuring that Norwegian expertise is seen and recognized nationally as well as internationally, with the ultimate goal of improving the lives of patients.

Future and Past
In addition to the three new board members, Oslo Cancer Cluster is happy to include a new honourable member of the board: Jónas Einarsson. During the last 16 years, he has acted as the CEO for The Radium Hospital Hospital Research Foundation. He is also the founder and former CEO and chairman of the board of Oslo Cancer Cluster and Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park.

The future looks promising with our newest board members. We thank our previous board members, Ingvild Hagen, Professor Svein Stølen, and Professor Gunnar Seter for their great time, effort and contribution!

 

How our genes will change cancer

Doctors, researchers and audience gather at breakfast to learn about genetics, data and how working together will help beat cancer.

The time is 8:15. Many have started to file in and shuffle to their seats while chatting and occasionally sipping their first morning coffee. As it starts to quiet down, the lights are dimmed, the audience wake up and the breakfast meeting begins.

An air of seriousness with a hint of respect changes the atmosphere, and the audience watches as the first guest speaker steps in and introduces the concept of genes and their relation to cancer.

– Cancer is brought on by errors in our genes. Most of the time, cancer is a result of the unlucky, says Borge, who is the director at the Norwegian Biotechnology Advisory Board.

This is the start of his talk on genes and cancer, where the audience is introduced to that which defines us most: DNA, the molecule of life.

To the moon and back
– 20,310 recipes in our genetic material. 2 meters of DNA in every cell. 10 Billion cells, of which 20 billion meters of DNA is found. If you do the math, astonishingly it amounts to 26,015 trips back and forth to the moon, Borg says, as he shows us a visual representation on the powerpoint slide. (See video in Norwegian.)

It’s this incredibly long strand of genetic material where things can go horribly wrong. If there’s a genetic error, or mutation in the DNA that happens to take place between the double helix and if there’s enough errors, cancer happens. This is the unfortunate fate for many of us.

– However, we may not have come a long way in finding the ultimate cure for cancer, but what we have accomplished is the ability and possibility of analysing, and ultimately predicting, cancer through genome sequencing, Borge says.

It was the best of times…
This message, as a central theme to the breakfast meeting taking place, shines a hopeful light in an otherwise frightful and serious subject. With genome sequencing, or list of our genes, scientists and doctors will have greater accuracy to predict genes that are potential carriers, and highly susceptible to, different cancers.

However, this requires a large amount of genome sequences: we need an army of genome data.

From terminal to chronic
To set further example, the next speaker to take the stage is oncologist Odd Terje Brustugun. He stresses the importance of personalized treatment for lung cancer patients, even those with metastatic cancers. These patients can be tested today to see if they are viable to receive new kinds of treatmemt, such as targeted therapy. This was the case for lung-cancer patient, and survivor for five years, Kari Grønås.

Kari Grønås was able to participate in a clinical study. She was treated with targeted therapy instead of the ordinary treatment for lung cancer patients at that time: chemotherapy.

– I feel I have gone from feeling like I have a terminal disease to a chronic one, she says from the podium.

Beating cancer: the story of us
This personalized approach is arguably what worked for Kari, setting the example and potential for the future. If we can analyse our own genes for potential cancer, then we are both able to prevent and provide personalized medicine catered to the individual. This is why genome sequencing is important for the future.

However, this cannot be done alone. To get a representable treatment for the individual, we need data. And data does not come reliably from one individual, but from the many.

– It is not your genes that are the key for tomorrows cancer research, it is ours. It is collaboration where large amounts of data and correlation will give us the knowledge that ensures the right path towards the future. A future with better cancer treatment for all, says Ole Johan Borge.

A Constant State of Liveliness

A driving force behind the collaboration between Ullern Upper Secondary School and Oslo Cancer Cluster is stepping down. This is her adventure.

After fifteen great and productive years at Ullern Upper Secondary School, Esther Eriksen steps down from her position as vice principle in the upcoming month. Esther, who has been responsible for many various tasks in her position, has been a part of Ullern’s transformative experience alongside Oslo Cancer Cluster’s emergence in 2009 and recounts her time at Ullern.

A flourish of innovation
Esther Eriksen describes the transformation and unification of Ullern Upper Secondary School and Oslo Cancer Cluster as being a progression from a strong belief in it’s potential to a flourish of innovation.

The collaboration has become a constant state of liveliness: from pupils attending classes, to research, to teamwork and a continuous process of growth.

Since 2009, the school and the cluster, with all its member companies and institutions, has unified to produce a collaborative arena for the pupils. This is an experience Eriksen describes nothing short of “wonderful, educational and groundbreaking”.

Diversity in teamwork
– The collaborative experience is incredible due to the pupils’ ability to take in experience in regards to teamwork. Not to mention they learn how knowledge from books can be translated to hands on work and ultimately get a feel for what life has in store for them, says Eriksen.

Esther Eriksen describes her own experience as being much of the same, and stresses the notion of working as a team.

– Diversity in teamwork is really important! We see this from well-received results and happy pupils, says Eriksen.

Future potential
In regards to the future of this collaboration, Vice Principle Eriksen expresses her desire to see the school continue down the path it has set out on. She wants to see the pupils continue to learn, gain opportunities and continue to work collaboratively.

– I wish the pupils would gain further awareness of the potential this unification brings, and hope to see increased interest in teamwork as an integrity.

The best of moments
Esther Eriksen also shares what she would consider the best moments of her time at Ullern, of which these were her favorite:

  1. When the new school first opened in the Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park in 2015 – hard work finally turned to fruition
  2. Seeing how happy and motivated the pupils are when they do projects with scientists, businesses and hospitals in the cluster
  3. The emergence of vocational studies, such as electronics and health care studies, at Ullern Upper Secondary School

To conclude, Vice Principle Eriksen would like to leave the school and her colleagues this message: that she will continue to observe and follow the thriving development taking place at Ullern Upper Secondary School.

– This is only the beginning!

 

Vi vant Siva-prisen 2017!

Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator stakk av med Siva-prisen for 2017 på årets Siva-konferanse i Trondheim.

Slik beskriver Siva vinneren:

Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator er en pådriver til utvikling av diagnostikk og behandling av kreftpasienter ved hjelp av ny revolusjonerende teknologi. De jobber med å omsette kreftforskning til nye medisiner og behandlingsformer. Dette gir nytt håp for kreftpasienter og bidrar til en ny helsenæring i Norge. Inkubatoren får daglig besøk av bedrifter, politikere, forskere, elever, gründere og andre som ønsker å lære eller bidra til helseinnovasjon.


Helseinnovasjon
– Alle snakker nå om at helseinnovasjon er viktig. Vi i Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator er en viktig aktør i innen helseinnovasjon. Vi ønsker å bidra nasjonalt i dette, med en klar tynge på kreft, sier Bjørn Klem, leder for Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator.

Han er fra seg av glede over at inkubatoren dro i land seieren på årets store Siva-happening, konferansen om den grenseløse industrien, som fant sted i Trondheim tirsdag 9. mai.


Penger til bedre nettverk
Verdiskapning og samarbeid jobber Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator mye med, og her vil de også bruke gevinsten, som er på 300 000 kroner.

– Vi omstiller norsk næringsliv og vil fortsette med det innenfor helsenæringen. Vi vil bruke gevinsten på å fortsette med det, og på å bedre nettverket mellom klyngene i Norge og Norden, sier Klem.

Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator kom til finalen sammen med MacGregor Norway og Protomore Kunnskapspark.

– De tre finalistene er formidable nyskapingsmiljøer som i vår bok alle er vinnere. De har på hver sin måte vært pådrivere for nyskaping og bidratt til den omstillingen og utviklingen som næringslivet i Norge er så avhengig av. Når det er sagt vil jeg på vegne av Siva gratulere Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator med en velfortjent seier. Vi håper de fortsetter det gode og viktige arbeidet med å utvikle medisiner og bedre behandling for kreftpasienter, sier Ulf Hustad, som er prosjektleder for prisen, til Sivas nettside.


En viktig konferanse for inkubatorene

I år kom rekordmange deltakere på Siva-konferansen. De kom fra ulike inkubatorer og næringsklynger, og talte omkring 300 stykker. På konferansen fikk de presentert et nytt initiativ kalt Norsk katapult. Her skal 50 millioner kroner brukes på å etablere såkalte katapult-fasiliteter, testfasiliteter i overgangen mellom forskning og etablert industri.


Om Siva

Siva står for Selskapet for industrivekst SF. Det ble etablert i 1968 og er en del av det næringsrettede virkemiddelapparatet. Siva er statens virkemiddel for tilretteleggende eierskap og utvikling av bedrifter og nærings- og kunnskapsmiljø i hele landet, med et særlig ansvar for å fremme vekstkraften i distriktene. Hovedmålet er å utløse lønnsom næringsutvikling i bedrifter og regionale nærings- og kunnskapsmiljø.

Nominated as “Norway’s smartest industrial company”

Thermo Fisher Scientific is one of three finalists to win the award and title in Oslo this Tuesday.

The technology which the biotech company is nominated for, is development of faster and cheaper DNA-sequencing. More than 70 companies were candidates for this year’s price, according to the Norwegian online tech magazine Teknisk Ukeblad. 

Thermo Fisher Scientific is one of Norway´s leading biotechs and among the most profitable. The company has played a vital role in Norwegian biotech with the development of «Dynabeads», used all over the world to separate, isolate and manipulate biological materials.

The smart element
On the question “why are you in the finals”, Ole Dahlberg, CEO at Thermo Fisher Scientific in Norway, is quick to answer.

“We have been capable of combining an established, older technology with another technology, creating maybe the most powerful tool for gene sequencing that we have in the world today”, says Dahlberg.

The smart element was using the beads in a completely new way on a microchip in combination with semiconductor technology. This link between biotech and electronics has created the instruments from Thermo Fisher which we now see in research institutes and diagnostic labs all over the world.

Ole Dahlberg, CEO at Thermo Fischer Scientific Norway, believes in their smart element.

Industrialising technology
What Thermo Fisher did, was to reduce the size of traditional magnetic beads to nano size. This resulted in much more efficient production methods. The number of people involved in the production of the beads, as well as the production time, could thereby be reduced.

Today, one person can produce ten times more beads in a day than 10-15 people could before, due to the new production technology, developed in-house.

Thermo Fisher’s Dynabeads are used in basic research, in billions of diagnostic tests, as well as in immunotherapy, all over the world. Innovation and further applications are being developed in close collaboration with research environments, clinics and industrial partners.

The importance of collaboration
“All the products we have developed, and those are quite a few, are developed in collaboration with academia and the clinical part of hospitals and other companies”, says Dahlberg.

His company has had a close collaboration with OUS Radiumhospitalet and SINTEF, and today it is part of Oslo Cancer Cluster and has offices in the Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator.

“We greatly believe in this kind of collaboration. It creates trust. One of the interesting things with the cluster is that it leans over in education. We need a broader interest for biotechnology and life science among the young, and we also recruit a lot of young people”, says Dahlberg.

A smart approach
Thermo Fischer Scientific gets their smart young coworkers directly from Norwegian universities like NTNU and UiO, as well as from abroad.

“We use a smart approach. It is all about putting the team first and making sure that the people who work here are dedicated and proud of our products”, says Dahlberg.

9 May is the day the winner will be announced at the Norwegian conference Industrikonferansen in Oslo, held by the union Norsk Industri, part of NHO.

 

About Thermo Fisher Scientific
Thermo Fisher Scientific in Norway was established in 1986. The company focuses on the diagnostics market as well as the development of innovative immunotherapeutics, especially within oncology. The client portfolio features many of the world’s largest pharma and diagnostics companies. In 2014 the company had 180 employees and a turn-over of 760 MNOK. The company has production units both in Oslo and Lillestrøm. The Norwegian company is a subsidiary to Thermo Fisher Scientific. Read more at www.thermofisher.com

More about cancer research in Thermo Fisher.

 

 

Ny rapport om helsenæringens verdi

En ny rapport om helsenæringens verdi er ute. Du kan laste ned rapporten her.  

 

Oslo Cancer Cluster er del av et konsortium som ønsker en oversikt over helsenæringens tilstand i Norge. Helseindustrien er en ung næring i Norge. Derfor måles den ikke som andre næringer av Statistisk Sentralbyrå. Dette er grunnen til at konsortiet har bestilt rapporten “Helsenæringens verdi” fra Menon Economics.

Rapporten beskriver helsenæringens omfang, utvikling og bidrag til det norske samfunnet. 

Rapporten tar opp flere temaer. Den beregner næringens verdiskaping, omsetning, sysselsetting, produktivitet og lønnsomhet. Den måler samlet forskningsinnsats og innovasjonsresultatene i næringen. Den avdekker også gründerbedriftenes kapitalbehov og næringens flaskehalser mot vekst og internasjonalisering. Til sist måler den næringens eksport og drøfter næringens samfunnsgevinster.

I 2016 gikk konsortiet for første gang sammen for å utarbeide en rapport som beskrev hele den norske helsenæringen i tall. Fjorårets rapport finner du her. Årets rapport bygger på fjorårets, med oppdaterte tall og med et bredere datagrunnlag.

Du finner den nye rapporten her: Helsenæringens Verdi (Menon-publikasjon Nr. 29 2017)

Høydepunkter fra rapporten:

  • 10 prosent omsetningsvekst fra 2014 til 2015: fra 47 milliarder kroner til 52 milliarder kroner
  • Omsetningen kan bli 61 milliarder i 2017
  • Helsenæringen er den mest forskningsintensive næringen i Norge
  • Åtte av ti bedrifter i helseindustrien hadde forsknings- og utviklingsaktivitet i 2016
  • 11 prosent av bedriftene regnes som gründerbedrifter. I næringslivet generelt er andelen to prosent
  • Helsesektoren har vokst med 141 prosent fra 2004 til 2014
  • Bedriftene innen helseindustrien er mer internasjonalt ambisiøse enn andre næringer

Deltakerne i konsortiet er:

Roche with approval for new lung cancer medication

Oslo Cancer Cluster member Roche has received approval for a medication against a specific form for lung cancer by the Norwegian Medicines Agency.  

 

Clinical data from a phase III study of the lung cancer medicine, named Alecensa, also shows significant approved survival for lung cancer patients.

This is important news for younger lung cancer patients because they have few treatments options today, often develop resistance to current standard of care within one year, and experience metastasis to the brain.

The specific form of lung cancer this drug, called Alecensa is approved for, is called anaplastic lymfomkinase (ALK) -positive advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In Norway lung cancer affects about 3 035 people per year. Of these almost five percent are ALK-positive. This cancer occurs mainly in young people of 50 years and under, with a specific type of non-small cell lung cancer, called adenocarcinoma. They normally smoke little or are non-smokers.

-We are glad that we finally can offer the lung cancer medicine Alecensa as a new treatment for Norwegian patients who no longer respond to the current standard treatment. We continue our efforts to improve research in personalised medicine to meet current unmet medical needs, says Elizabeth Jeffords, CEO of Roche Norway.

 

Clinical trials in Norway
Norwegian lung cancer patients have contributed to this study. Lead investigator in Norway is oncologist Åslaug Helland at Oslo University Hospital, Radium Hospital. She is one of the top ranked experts on this kind of lung cancer disease in Norway.

– Alecensa seems to be a very effective medication and is targeted for patients with ALK-positive lung cancer. About 90 people are diagnosed with this disease each year in Norway. This study has shown that the patients have good effect of the drug, with a long term effect and few side effects, says Helland.

Helland is pleased that a lot of new medications for lung cancer patients have been developed recently. She says this is due to the discovery of the driver-mutations for the disease.

– Lung cancer is the cancer that take the most lives in Norway, and we are glad for study results showing that patients can live longer without the disease worsening. Alecensa has now demonstrated efficacy both as first line therapy and second line therapy after treatment with crizotinib, says Jeffords.

 

About Alecensa
Alecensa (alektinib) is an oral drug, developed by Chugai Kamakura Research Laboratories of patients with non-small cell lung cancer whose tumors are assessed as ALK-positive. ALK-conditional positive, non-small cell lung cancer is often found in younger patients who are non-smokers, or who have previously smoked little. It is almost exclusively found in patients with a specific type of non-small cell lung cancer, called adenocarcinoma.

Alecensa has conditional marketing authorisation for the treatment of advanced (metastatic), ALK-positive, non-small cell lung cancer, where the condition is exacerbated by treatment with crizotinib.

 

Learning about physics in radiotherapy

Join six pupils from Ullern Upper Secondary School to see how physics plays a crucial role in good cancer treatment.

 

A group of interested pupils pay close attention as Taran Paulsen Hellebust explains the recommended radiation dose for a patient with prostate cancer. On a big monitor, she shows how the dose administered by the radiotherapy machine should vary between organs, and what will happen if you increase the dosage or the radiation, or expand the radiation field.

The six upper secondary school pupils ask many good questions. This week, they are spending their school days at the Norwegian Radium Hospital’s Department of Medical Physics, where they are on work placement.

While looking at the screen, they are talking about grey which is a unit of measurement, just like metres and decilitres, for radiation.

All six pupils are studying maths and physics plus either chemistry or biology at Ullern Upper Secondary School, which is only a stone’s throw away from the hospital. Many of them are considering studying medicine, engineering or biotechnology after they graduate this spring. The pupils are Kristian Novsett Borgen, Aurora Opheim Sauar, Edvard Dybevold Hesle, Alexander Lu, Trym Overrein Lunde and Tuva Askmann Nærby.

 

Cooperation on radiation
The pupils get practical insight into topics they have barely touched on during physics lessons. They appreciate getting some insight into working life and seeing how a physicist works.

Hellebust explains how a team comprising a doctor, a radiation therapist and a physicist cooperate on planning a patient’s radiation treatment. If, like many others, you think of physicists as elderly men with unkempt hair running around with their heads full of abstract and incomprehensible formulas, your prejudice has hereby been refuted. The physicists who supervise the pupils and work with radiotherapy on a daily basis are young and know how to entertain their pupils.

 

From brachytherapy to radiotherapy machines
After the pupils have been given an introduction to brachytherapy, physicists Jørund Graadal Svestad and Live Furnes Øyen take them on a tour to see the radiotherapy machines in use in the radiotherapy building. Cancer patients sit in the corridors with family members and friends waiting for their turn, while Jørund explains to the students how the radiotherapy machine is used.

Inside the radiotherapy room, the Geiger counter that Jørund is carrying detects radiation.

‘But it’s a very small amount of radiation, not problematic in any way,’ he says.

The final stop before lunch is a room that could easily be mistaken for the set of the old Norwegian science TV series Fysikk på roterommet. Among other things, it contains an old radiotherapy machine and an old-fashioned ultrasound machine. The pupils have a look and fiddle around with the old machines. They get a chance to feel and see how today’s radiotherapy has developed by leaps and bounds within a relatively short space of time.

‘It’s been great fun and very educational and, not least, we’ve had an opportunity to learn from the experts,’ says one of the pupils.

 

OncoImmunity AS wins the EU SME Instrument grant

The bioinformatics company OncoImmunity AS was ranked fourth out of 250 applicants for this prestigious grant.

250 companies submitted proposals to the same topic call as OncoImmunity AS. Only six projects were funded.

We applied for the SME instrument grant as it represents an ideal vehicle for funding groundbreaking and innovative projects with a strong commercial focus. The call matched our ambition to position OncoImmunity as the leading supplier of neoantigen identification software in the personalised cancer vaccine market”, says Dr. Richard Stratford, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of OncoImmunity.


Personalised cancer vaccines
Neoantigen identification software facilitates effective patient selection for cancer immunotherapy, by identifying optimal immunogenic mutations (known as neoantigens). OncoImmunity develops proprietary machine-learning software for personalised cancer immunotherapy.

This solution also guides the design of neoantigen-based personalised cancer vaccines and cell therapies, and enables bespoke products to be developed faster.

The SME Instrument gives us the opportunity to further refine and optimise our machine-learning framework to facilitate personalised cancer vaccine design. This opportunity will help us establish the requisite quality assurance systems, certifications, and clinical validation with our partners, to get our software accredited as an in vitro diagnostic device”, says Dr. Richard Stratford.

In vitro diagnostics are tests that can detect diseases, conditions, or infections.

Dr. Richard Stratford is Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of OncoImmunity, member of Oslo Cancer Cluster and part of the Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator.


Hard to get
Horizon 2020’s SME Instrument is tailored for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). It targets innovative businesses with international ambitions — such as OncoImmunity.

“The SME instrument is an acid test; companies that pass the test are well suited to make their business global. It also represents a vital step on the way to building a world-class health industry in Norway”, says Mona Skaret, Head of Growth Companies and Clusters in Innovation Norway.

The SME Instrument has two application phases. Phase one awards the winning company 50 000 Euros based on an innovative project idea. Phase two is the actual implementation of the main project. In this phase, the applicant may receive between 1 and 2,5 million Euros.

The support from the SME instrument is proof that small, innovative Norwegian companies are able to succeed in the EU”, says Mona Skaret.

You can read more about the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument in Norwegian at the Enterprise Europe Network in Norway.

 

Thinking of applying?
Oslo Cancer Cluster helps its member companies with this kind of applications through the EU Advisor Program and close collaboration with Innovayt and Innovation Norway.

The SME Instrument is looking for high growth and highly innovative SMEs with global ambitions. They are developing innovative technologies that have the potential to disrupt the established value networks and existing markets.

Companies applying for the SME Instrument must meet the requirements set by the programme. Please see the SME Instrument website for more information.