The higher education institutions of the Turku region together with Bayer organised a Corporate Corner event in Medisiina D and Visitor and Innovation Centre Joki on Monday, 10 October 2022. The event set out to discover new collaboration opportunities in the fields of pharmaceutical research, product development, and manufacturing technology. The event also featured an interactive and gamified drug development simulation organised in Visitor and Innovation Centre Joki in the afternoon.
The University of Turku, Åbo Akademi University, and Turku University of Applied Sciences have all signed a strategic partnership agreement with the pharmaceutical company Bayer. Together with Bayer, the higher education institutions organised the Corporate Corner event aimed at researchers and students in Medisiina D and Visitor and Innovation Centre Joki on Monday, 10 October 2022.
Corporate Corner included discussion on themes related to for example pharmaceutical research, pharmaceutical manufacturing technology, and foreign expertise. In the event, students and researchers also had an opportunity to engage in career discussions with the representatives of Bayer.
Significant health-related and pharmaceutical cluster on an international scale
The event was opened with remotely spoken opening remarks by the Rector of the University of Turku Jukka Kola. According to Kola, Turku is nationally and internationally significant cluster of top research in medicine, health technology, and drug development.
“Of the 23 pharmaceutical products on the market that are developed in Finland, 21 were developed in Turku. Almost 75 percent of all pharmaceutical exports come from companies that operate in the Turku region. The long-expected national Drug Development Centre starts its operations at the beginning of next year in Turku. On a global scale, Finland is also one of the best places to conduct health-related research and drug development as collaboration between universities and companies,” said Kola in the opening remarks.
The second opening speech of the event was given by CEO of Bayer Christiane Temminghoff.
Temminghoff’s speech addressed the central areas of Bayer’s operations, its expertise needs, and more generally collaboration with higher education institutions.
“We engage in extensive collaboration with higher education institutions both in the areas of research and education because we believe that future innovations and best treatment for patients are born in collaboration. Success in the global competition calls for the best talents and an innovation ecosystem consisting of different types of actors,” said Temminghoff.
In the event, the operations of Bayer were also introduced by Head of Bayer's Product Supply Center in Turku Tomi Penttilä, Head of Drug Carrier & Depot Systems at Bayer Turku Manja Ahola and Head Clinical Project Management of the Oncology Strategic Business Unit at Bayer Tarja Jalava.
More international expertise to Turku
The Medisiina D section of Corporate Corner was finished with a panel discussion on the significance of foreign talents, investments and pharmaceutical research and manufacturing in the Turku region and Finland.
In the panel, Vice Rector responsible for societal interaction and impact at the University of Turku Mika Hannula discussed with Christiane Temminghoff on attracting foreign expertise to Finalnd.
“The University of Turku has plenty of both international staff and students, but truth to be told, we are still not an international enough university. We need more international expertise both nationally and regionally here in Turku, and that’s why we have created an ambitious International Programme,” said Hannula.
The panel discussion was participated by Vice Rector of Åbo Akademi University Reko Leino (on the left), Manja Ahola, Tomi Penttilä, Vice Rector of Turku University of Applied Sciences Vesa Taatila, Christiane Temminghoff, and Mika Hannula.
New collaboration initiatives and drug development simulation
In the afternoon, the researchers had the chance to present their research subjects or possible collaboration ideas to the representatives of Bayer. The event was participated by around 200 researchers and dozens of students. The number of sent collaboration proposals was almost 50. The researchers or research groups with the best proposals had discussions with Bayer in the afternoon.
From 1pm onwards, the event continued in Visitor and Innovation Centre Joki with a drug development simulation, in which the participants got to experience the whole cycle of drug development from laboratories to pharmacies in a short period of time. The development of a pharmaceutical product can take over ten years, and only about one percent of all planned pharmaceutical products end up being sold on the market.
In the simulation organised by Bayer, students and doctoral researchers were first divided into different groups based on their tables, with each having their own area of responsibility, such as finances and marketing, project leadership, or clinical studies.
Each group picked a leader from among themselves, and all group leaders went through the goals of the drug development project in more detail.