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Mission:Innovation Key takeaways

Mission:Innovation Key takeaways

By: Sofronis Papageorgiou, Head of Cyprus Trade Center

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Embassy of Cyprus

Between 14th to 17th September 2020, just a day before yet another lockdown, I had the pleasure of joining ‘Mission: Innovation’, a bootcamp tailored to the needs of Trade & Innovation Counsellors serving in EU Diplomatic Missions in Israel.

 

The bootcamp programme was jointly designed and delivered by the European Institute of Innovation & Tech

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ogy (EIT) Hub in Israel and Innovation Without Borders (IWB), an organization serving as a platform for diplomatic staff leading innovation activities in Israel to network with local ecosystem stakeholders.

 

Considering that the Cyprus Trade Center (CTC) in Tel Aviv has been operating for 3 years already and that during this time has initiated, supported, and took part in several activities in the Research & Innovation domain, our team’s knowledge and understanding of the local ecosystem would be classified as fair.

Nevertheless, we abide by the motto ‘I know that I know nothing’. Thus, with an interest in enriching my knowledge, extending our office’s network, and challenging my understanding of the opportunities and challenges in advancing cooperation between Cyprus and Israel, I joined a team of counterparts from 9 different EU diplomatic missions in this 4-day educational journey.

 

In summary, the bootcamp’s intense programme could be divided into 3 meta-categories.

  • Α plethora of back to back meetings with key ecosystem actors, covering the full stakeholder spectrum; academia, public sector, private sector as well as civil society.
  • A specialist workshop guiding participants to clearly lay out their innovation agenda objectives, formulate a concrete action plan, and pinpoint deliverables and performance metrics.
  • Peer-to-peer learning, through daily interaction with counterparts, sharing very similar job descriptions but practically delivering value for their respective business communities and countries in varied ways.

Personal Key Getaways & Thoughts

  • High-level objectives for EU innovation counsellors in Israel may look alike, but the actual opportunities and projects to be explored may vary significantly between countries taking into account parameters such as -and not limited to- the specific country’s economic profile, its innovation strategy, availability of resources, national ecosystem size and maturity level, presence of MNCs, culture, the intensity of collaboration between stakeholder groups, etc.
  • Projects/Activities Planning – Concerning delegation visits and other relevant events; sector-specific, more compact initiatives may deliver significantly greater value and tangible results compared to those of general -and often customary- nature.
  • There is a very wide network of potential partners to team up with when executing projects and collaborators to consult when collecting information and when handling requests from organizations back home. There is a great deal of overlap, which can at times lead to unnecessary duplication of effort but may also bring about complementarity. It is important to be clear on requirements before approaching stakeholders, in order to (a) be efficient in identifying the most appropriate and relevant collaborator and (b) be effective in achieving targets.
  • From an Innovation Counsellor’s perspective, defining Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or performance metrics in general is a very challenging task. Quantifying targets is particularly complex as many elements in the equation are outside a Counsellor’s control. Nevertheless, it is a valuable exercise worth pursuing while tweaking the outcome as you go (Plan-Do-Check-Act). This is not necessarily done as part of an appraisal process, but it can serve as a compass for a given team to navigate accurately towards its objectives.
  • COVID-19 era considerations – In the absence of physical meetings and events, the world resorted to the increased utilization of VC tools and the planning of webinars and digital conferences. It is a common observation that we have by now reached ‘Zoom-fatigue’. Thus, -to the extent possible- it is important to identify innovative, fresh ideas for webinars and digital events, to attract and maintain our audience’s interest and delivery value.
  • Continuously improving the website and social media content, by keeping up to date with digital tools and communication trends is key to effective audience education and engagement.
  • It is equally important to boost interest in available opportunities and burst bubbles and misconceptions. E.g. Motivate EU companies searching for solutions and new technologies to look into the Israeli market, whilst at the same time informing that investment organizations in Israel are inward-looking, meaning they predominantly and purposely invest in Israeli startups and are not -in principle- looking into investments in foreign startups.
  • Stay knowledge-thirsty, ask questions, say ‘yes’ to networking opportunities, keep a positive attitude, embrace local culture and traits, be open and collaborative. Do not see hutzpah as an enemy, make sure you turn it into your friend.

Overall, the bootcamp experience was highly beneficial and I would heartily recommend it to fellow Counsellors who might consider signing up for it in the future. It was a great opportunity to take a step back, re-assess our operational environment also considering the extraordinary conditions we are faced with due to the COVID-19 pandemic, re-evaluate our objectives, and revise action plans.

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Access to Healthcare

The Health not The Death is a fundamental human right. A healthy population is not to be seen as human and social capital, an input, or by-product, towards economic growth. Alongside a healthy and sustainable environment, a solidarity, a healthy population must be the ultimate goal especially nowadays in helping Ukrainian migrants with cancer and their families.

Solidarity in health is a cornerstone of EU health policy. There are wide disparities in many health outcomes across the region and those outcomes. The access rules dramatically affect healthcare systems which are at the forefront of the migrant way, the people who are searching for help and the way how we could enhance and support their healthier and wellbeing status.

In order to ensure their access to care and continued cure in need, the probability of receiving a timely diagnosis and of surviving differs greatly from country to country where they are now. There is lack of information, help and inequalities in access. People need help in navigating cancer knowledge, diagnostics, secondary monitoring and prevention, way of treatments, and care.

Shifting our mindset, supporting healthcare connectivity, removing inequalities overall across Europe is our mission and even more now in a time of crisis, helping the Ukrainian people dealing with cancer is a good place to begin this transformative revolution.

1) Whether we have a chance to foster more holistic and integrated approaches to receive information and care, by supporting coordination and maximising an enabling and health-enhancing effect of care across services from different countries?

2) Whether actions should address the social determinants of health, the countries where they are now, the health need which they have, the social and language barriers are the conditions which have to be taken into consideration in a coordinated manner?

How might we improve patients and /or people who seek healthcare support, access to healthcare services at an EU & the Member States Healthcare systems level? Especially in a time of crisis in Europe.

How might we support refugees fleeing from their countries by navigating them to medical centres to receive best available care?  

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Predictive Treatment

Precision medicine aims to personalise care for every individual. Nongenomic and genomic determinants, combined with information from patient symptoms, clinical history, and lifestyle (nutrition, physical activity, stress etc.), can facilitate personalised diagnosis and prognostics. Yet this goal requires access to massive amounts of data which may come from different structured and unstructured sources; these can be our medical records, laboratory testing, a range of medical devices as well as from the patient himself. AI & ML can combine input from these multiple sources, analyse them and identify biomarkers that can support health professionals make more informed decisions. The convergence of precision medicine with the advanced AI capabilities will improve the ability to personalise care – improve diagnosis, risk prediction as well as therapy planning.  

HCPs want to better predict treatment response, given uncertainty around which treatment to prescribe to which patient and when to prescribe. How do we risk assess the patients, match them with the right treatment (personalised). How can we transform the wealth of data and link it to the predictive nature of how the patient will respond?

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Patient Journey Navigation

Being diagnosed with cancer is overwhelming and comes as a blow. Patients may feel on a roller coaster of emotions—they are scared, lost & confused not knowing what to expect, who to refer to, what to do and how to tell their loved ones.  They directly refer to “Dr. Google” to look for information about their disease, possible treatments, QoL strategies with the aim to have better understanding of their disease and learn how to better cope with their disease & treatment, yet information is not always valid, accessible, nor personalised or tailored to the patient’s status and needs therefore left with huge amounts of non-relevant information. Coming to the doctor, the physician’s time is limited and mostly focusing on the physical aspects of the disease & treatment, not leaving much time to ask questions nor discuss more holistic aspects of the disease such as emotional, psychological, social aspects. The patient (& caregiver in many cases) leaves the room with unanswered questions, doesn’t remember much of what has been said, and feels he is not heard, nor seen as a whole.

The need for navigating this journey along the emotional psychological stress is overwhelming & patients and their caregivers look for support (case manager/companion/partner) to help manage their disease holistically – starting from having clarity around their disease and treatment by having access to reliable and personalised information during their journey as well as having an integrated holistic care system , supporting them and their loved ones to navigate through the different aspects of their disease – medical, emotional, logistical, psychological, social, rights.

How can we support patients to navigate through the complexity of their disease and treatment ensuring they have validated holistic information about their disease journey & treatment and be empowered to  effectively manage their care 

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Peer-to-Peer Medical Exchange

As medical events pivoted from conference centres and meeting rooms to the virtual settings, learning opportunities continue. Lectures and presentations are translated to the new digital world, yet the ability to connect and network is relatively lost. Peer interaction is essential not only for information exchange but to share practical insights, allows consultation & in-person experience cross country and across borders leading to better disease management.

This peer-based learning/ consultation is highly valued amongst practising clinicians and was generally achieved when HCPs and KOLs met their peers in national & Intl conferences, group debates, advisory boards and even during quick corridor conversations. Attempting to replicate these in-person experiences into the digital space creates challenges and are not effective nor impactful as face-to-face engagements. 

How might we improve HCP medical exchange enabling physicians to easily communicate, consult, exchange opinions leveraging individual experts & centres of excellence knowledge, experiences, and practices?

How can we leverage the technological expertise to allow HCPs to connect with leading experts across countries to get advice / counselling for their cases?

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