Life Sciences Focus Talk: Solutions for growing pains in the Life Sciences sector

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Speaker Salla Lardot, Drees & Sommer

Pim Prins, Drees & Sommer

Current challenges in the European Life Sciences sector require interdisciplinary, cross-border thinking and action. For example, the arrival of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in Amsterdam has created an enormous attraction for international Pharma and Biotech companies. How can we create an optimal environment for these companies to settle in the Netherlands? And how can we continue to facilitate startups and scale-ups as good as possible and continue to attract and keep talent? Thursday October 24th, 30 professionals from various sectors came together with fresh thinking for the challenges of the future.

Opportunities and challenges

Worldwide the Life Sciences and Health (LSH) industry is developing rapidly. Pharma and Biotech companies are looking for suitable locations to start, grow or expand their business. The development of a new LSH Campus in the Netherlands could respond to this need. Challenges are also visible in the sector, such as government policy that doesn‘t meet the sector’s needs, a shortage of laboratory space and suitable accommodation, and finding talent.

Lively discussion

The Life Sciences Focus Talk was organised by five organisations, all connected to the Life Sciences sector from different angles: Invest in Holland, Schiphol Area Development Company (SADC), Amsterdam in Business, Acerta-Pharma and Drees & Sommer. The gathering was hosted by Joep Schroeders (SADC) and Pim Prins (Drees & Sommer). Four keynote speakers addressed various topics to open the growing pains discussion. It resulted in much interaction, interesting discussions and new and renewed contacts. Heard from many attendees: an event worth repeating!

View photos of the meeting ►



Welcome to the Netherlands

Koen Daamen of Invest in Holland kicked off the event. Based on his 'five reasons why', he outlined the strong business climate in the Netherlands. In what fields do we lead the way, what are opportunities to grow? In addition to the arrival of the EMA and our high-level research and educational institutes, a high concentration of Life Sciences & Health (LSH) clusters makes the Netherlands stand out. We have many public-private partnerships with worldwide reputation. Our country is a gateway to Europe with excellent infrastructure. But, how can we compete with e.g. Switzerland and the UK for LSH talent? Regarding the future, should we focus more on Pharma or Biotech?

A new campus

Jeanet van Antwerpen, CEO of SADC, is involved in the development of a LS campus in the Amsterdam corridor: Schiphol Trade Park. A beautiful tabula rasa that offers lots of possibilities. The location is BREEAM 4* certified; sustainable real estate and greenery are part of the design measures. A good example is our event location C-Bèta, a circularly renovated 19th century farm located in this area. But what should start the development? Settlement of a major international player? Or start with creating space for incubators and accelerators? This first step will have to boost the rest of the development.

A place where you want to work

Salla Lardot, head of UX and Workplace Consulting at Drees & Sommer focuses on the end user of a workspace. The workplace is a crucial part in promoting collaboration and innovation. The best ideas come from spontaneous encounters. Don't ask employees what they want, but what they do and how they do it. An ideal workplace concept based on UX can provoke and promote encounters and provide a sense of comfort, convenience, challenge and community. The right vibe is for the good of the people and the organisation!

From startup to billion-euro company

Nico Stam of Acerta-Pharma provides insight in the growth process from a scientific idea to a successful Biotech company. After the redundancies at Organon in Oss, a group of researchers started their own company, Acerta, which quickly conquered the world. Several critical factors can be identified in such a successful development, e.g. a perfect timing and an optimal team. Of course, the quality of the initial product or idea is of utmost importance next to capital, for example through merger or investment. A premium company requires premium accommodation. For branding, and for the representation towards potential employees or partners. If all factors coincide in the right way, you will have the chance to do what it's ultimately all about: giving patients a chance for a better life.

For more information about the Life Sciences Focus Talk, please contact:

  • Kurt van Dijk, Managing Director Drees & Sommer Netherlands
    • T: +31 (0)6 26 43 45 05
    • E: