Preparations are under way to create a National Neurocenter with the goal of developing a national brain research collaboration network and promoting the global prestige and recognition of Finland’s neuroscientific research. Although not yet launched, the project has already achieved some positive outcomes.
The history of Neurocenter Finland dates back to 2014, when it was decided by the ministries to focus on health care and start building a new Nokia for Finland, this time in the health care sector. The growth strategy for health care has already generated centers of excellence such as the Cancer Center, Genome Center and Biobank Cooperative.
– The establishment of diverse centers of excellence prompted the idea of a center bringing together expertise in the field of neurosciences, Mikael von und zu Fraunberg, Docent of Neurosurgery, Director of Neurocenter Finland, explains.
The University of Eastern Finland, led by Rector Jukka Mönkkönen, assumed the role of a coordinator in the establishment of the Neurocenter in 2017. The center is expected to be fully operational by early 2021.
The goals of the center are development of personalized or precision medicine, searching for innovations and creating wider operational environments, or ecosystems, for actors in the medical sector. The overall goal of the ecosystem is to connect businesses, hospitals, physicians, researchers and investors.
Neurocenter is looking for gold nuggets from among research projects in Finland that could be processed into commercial products.
– Finland is a place of cutting edge neuroscience research. To promote the prestige of Finnish research and to attract international investors, we will strive to communicate the high level of Finnish research outside Finland the way it deserves. We will also provide research with an environment where it has room to grow and flourish.
The steering group of Neurocenter has invested in planning of communication and branding. Fraunberg tips that establishing a presence is vital for a new actor and worth investing in. It soon became clear to the Neurocenter steering group that it is important to decide what to outsource and what to keep in-house.
– By outsourcing public relations and communication, strategic work steering and legal consultation, we have succeeded in reinforcing our small team and getting access to the skilled experts we need. When you start from nothing, PR and communication can take more than a fair share from your resources, Fraunberg says.
According to him, prioritization is the key to developing new activities. All operational concepts being new, choosing a core concept has proved to be a challenge for the Neurocenter Finland’s steering group, and a well-functioning service portfolio hard to find.
According to Fraunberg, the steering group’s greatest success and major achievement was that immediately after the first meetings mutual understanding was reached on a national scale.
– Cross-team collaboration is vital in activities like this.
It is not yet known, whether the permanent location of Neurocenter will be Kuopio. The decision depends on the final organizational structure. According to Fraunberg, Kuopio is high on the list of candidate cities.
– Kuopio is a place with valuable expertise including state-of-the-art health and medical research, with emphasis on neurosciences. Kuopio is a top-level choice for an ideal location of the Neurocenter.
Once the National Neurocenter Finland starts to operate, the objective is to gain global recognition for Finnish research.
– It is our mission to improve research resources in neurosciences. Closer collaboration and development of innovation activities are the key to improved brain health and prevention and treatment of individual diseases, Fraunberg summarizes.
Text: Minna Akiola (translation in English Tultra)