L-R: Roby Schintgen; Economy Minister Franz Fayot; Deputy PM Paulette Lenert; Jean-Paul Scheuren; HRH Prince Guillaume; Simone Asselborn-Bintz; Romain Poulles; Georges Mischo; Jeannot Fürpass; Credit: SIP / Claude Piscitelli

Thursday 12 January 2023 saw the official inauguration of the third and final extension of the House of BioHealth (HoBH) in Esch-sur-Alzette.

The inauguration took place in the presence of His Royal Highness the Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Health, Paulette Lenert, the Minister of the Economy, Franz Fayot, the President of ZARE, Simone Asselborn-Bintz, and the mayors of Esch-sur-Alzette and Mondercange, Georges Mischo and Jeannot Fürpass, respectively.

The HoBH is the result of collaboration between Luxembourg's Ministry of the Economy, private investors and the ZARE intermunicipal union in charge of the regional economic activity zone in Ehlerange. The HoBH serves to host innovative companies in the fields of biotechnology and digital health technologies. With the provision of surfaces that can be converted into laboratories, the HoBH enables companies to be quickly operational with their research and development (R&D) activity. Spread over three phases, this project represents an investment of approximately €60 million for a total area of 15,000 m2, divided between 9,500 m2 of laboratory space and 5,500 m2 of office space.

Buildings I and II, inaugurated in 2015 and 2018 respectively, house companies (primarily small and medium-sized enterprises) mainly active in the field of health technology (HealthTech), as well as certain research activities of the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) and the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB), and currently employ a total of around 450 people. The second extension also includes a bioincubator offering nearly 350 m2 of laboratory space already fitted out to accommodate spin-offs and start-ups in the HealthTech sector, while the third extension was officially inaugurated on the occasion of Thursday's visit. B Medical Systems took the opportunity to confirm its intention to set up additional offices there. Negotiations are also underway with other Luxembourg companies looking at accessing laboratory space.

"Campus HE:AL" project update

On the occasion of the inauguration, Romain Poulles, Managing Director of PROgroup, provided an update on the progress of the project to create the HE:AL Campus, which was unveiled in March 2022. Complementary to the HoBH, this large-scale infrastructure project, potentially comprising more than 50,000 m2 of building area, aims not only to complete the existing reception and accommodation infrastructures in the HealthTech field, but also to provide a framework promoting the development of a community of innovation in the sector at the national level, as well as to increase the international visibility of innovation in the HealthTech sector of the Grand Duchy.

Since the signing, in March 2022, of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the project leaders and ZARE aimed at granting a surface right for the land, followed by the creation, in July 2022, of the company "HE:AL Campus SA", a call for projects has been launched with a view to producing the master plan for the construction of the buildings, which will be followed by a presentation to the public and then a public consultation, involving all the stakeholders in the project, to designate the winner of the call for projects.

During the inaugural session, Health Minister Paulette Lenert highlighted the "impressive" development of the health and life sciences sector, in such a way as to have resulted in an industry in a booming environment.

After recalling the importance of the health technologies sector for the diversification of the Luxembourg economy, Economy Minister Franz Fayot emphasised the leading role of the HoBH in the development of the sector, in particular because it brings together the various players under one roof.

Launch of "Fit 4 Innovation - HealthTech Market"

Minister Fayot then announced the launch of the new "Fit 4 Innovation - HealthTech Market" programme, which will be implemented by Luxinnovation during the first quarter of 2023. This programme aims to best prepare small businesses to understand the medical regulatory provisions that govern market access for their innovative health products. Companies participating in the programme can benefit, on the one hand, from advice from regulatory experts outside Luxembourg at an early stage in the development of their innovations, and, on the other hand, from public subsidies facilitating the use of these experts.

Second call for Joint Call HealthTech projects

Building on the success of a first call launched in 2021, which saw the selection of four projects for funding, Minister Fayot also announced that the Ministry of the Economy, the National Research Fund and Luxinnovation have decided to launch a second "Joint Call HealthTech" call for projects, which will be open from 1 February 2023 via the Luxinnovation-managed digital platform: https://research-industry-collaboration.lu/.

Meeting with three HoBH-based companies

At the end of the inauguration, the official delegation visited three companies housed within the HoBH, representative of the three key areas of activity of HealthTech companies in Luxembourg: medical devices, represented by Flen Health, which develops medical gels for healing burns and other skin injuries; in vitro diagnostic medical devices, represented by Fast Track Diagnostics - FTD, which develops molecular diagnostic (PCR) kits targeting infectious diseases; digital health, represented by Information Technology for Translational Medicine (ITTM), which offers, within the framework of major European projects and to pharmaceutical companies, services for storing, transferring and analysing medical data from clinical trials.

The inauguration ended with the ribbon cutting to formalise the opening of the third and final extension, followed by speeches by ZARE President Simone Asselborn-Bintz and Esch-sur-Alzette Mayor Georges Mischo.