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Bioinformatics and digital tools for healthcare products

Nadia Gorbatko - 13/02/2014

Fruitful discussions between researchers and industry

© Inria / Photo T. Fournier

The Inria-Industry Forum on "Bioinformatics and digital tools for healthcare products", held on 11 February 2014 at ENS Lyon, attracted over 200 visitors, who came to find out about the research carried out by around twenty project teams. An exciting day of productive discussions for all involved.

What are the latest subjects of research in the field of digital healthcare technology? Are they of value for our R&D? What prospects do they open up? How will they enable us to make a breakthrough in terms of development? On 11 February, at the Inria-Industry Forum on Bioinformatics and digital tools for healthcare products , at ENS Lyon, some 200 industry players, business incubators, representatives of technology transfer companies and other collaborators from competitiveness clusters came to find solutions to questions such as these.

Highlights of the Forum

Presenting and explaining our research

Organised by Inria, in conjunction with Lyonbiopôle, the CVSTENE consortium and the Amies (French Agency for Mathematics in interaction with business and society), the one-day forum aimed to promote the work of many project teams currently working in the fields of healthcare and the Life Sciences at the Institute.

"It has become commonplace to say that nowadays we can't do without digital technologies in these fields. Yet, in the Life Sciences and Healthcare in general, research teams and companies still don't have THE tool they really need. They sometimes have to undertake new developments, devoting lots of time and effort, without making much headway. This is why it is important to present our research, to make them aware of its potential, of the extent of what is possible, of its impact… And to give them the incentive to work with us or keep a close eye on our research; the ultimate goal being that they will take what we are doing on board and, in the case of businesses, contribute to economic development," explained Philippe Gesnouin, one of the brains behind this one-day forum, and head of technology transfer for "Health, Life Sciences and Biotechnology" at Inria.

Focus on the issues

In the morning, Eric Horlait, Inria's Director of Technology Transfer and Innovation, Philippe Gesnouin, Elise Taillant, ‎in charge of Partnerships and Innovation Projects, Alain Viari, Deputy Scientific Director for Life and Environment Sciences and François Sillion, Director of Inria Grenoble-Rhône-Alpes, took turns to present the opportunities afforded by these forums, the Institute's organisation and ambitions, and its expertise, especially in modelling, analysis and simulation, as well as in technology transfer. "This year, Inria is celebrating the 30th anniversary of our first startup. There are now nearly 120 startups that have grown out of our laboratories ," recalled Eric Horlait.

Insisting on the need to develop predictive and preventive medicine, which factors in the individual patient's profile, Professor Christophe Pison from Grenoble University Hospital (CHU), Head of the university pneumonology clinic, the Institut du thorax, demonstrated the incredible advantages of digital technology in meeting these challenges.

Jean-Baptiste Veyrieras, Head of bioMérieux's technological research department, the Data and Knowledge laboratory, also emphasised the advantages for optimising the pre- and post-analytic performance of diagnosis tools to ensure measurement quality.

In his presentation of the BIOASTER Technology Research Institute, Christophe d'Enfert, Scientific Director and Head of the Fungal Biology and Pathogenicity Unit at Institut Pasteur, focused on the possibility afforded by digital technology, that industry and SMEs in the infectious diseases and microbiology sector might break down barriers to supporting developments in diagnosis, drug treatments and vaccines. 

Forging contacts

In the afternoon, armed with videos and simulations, around twenty-five teams presented their research subjects and results to the visitors, sparking off a host of questions. This was an ideal opportunity for the latter to broaden their horizons in terms of development, while the former gained a better understanding of the expectations and issues at stake in the worlds of business and medicine.

Contacts were made and discussions will undoubtedly continue beyond the confines of the forum. For Inria's Technology Transfer and Innovation Department, the work has only just begun.

The idea behind these Forums...

In 2014, Inria has been celebrating the 30th anniversary of its first startup. In these thirty years, the Institute has generated over 120 startups, symbolising its proactive policy to transfer technology developed by its research teams to industry. As a public research institute dedicated to digital science, Inria's ambition is to make an impact not only in science but also an economic and social impact: one of its priorities is to make companies that integrate its cutting-edge technologies more competitive.

With a view to creating more opportunities for researchers and companies to meet and spark off collaborative projects, Inria has developed the Inria-Industry Forums, themed national or local one-day forums held several times a year, all over France, together with the iCOMMUNITY platform.

Keywords: Bioinformatics; Inria-Industry Forum; Healthcare; Digital tools; Inria; ENS Lyon; Lyonbiopôle