Although HUS cooperates with companies in a multitude of ways, it was lacking a functional contract framework for joint ventures. Helsinki Business Hub helped create a solution based on HUS’s updated HUSMAP® service architecture, interviews with partnering companies, and benchmarked frame agreements between one of the world’s foremost medical universities Karolinska University Hospital and Stockholm County Council. The model is currently being tested.
The first steps towards a framework agreement were taken in 2017 when Helsinki Business Hub helped HUSMAP® map out required contract types and draft initial agreements. After a thorough service architecture remodel at HUS, the need for a working partnership agreement for innovation in different business areas became evident.
“Everything we do is based on service, and in this particular case we focused on innovation as a service. In HUS we deal with situations that demand fast reaction speed and innovative solutions. We are aiming to become more agile, stay open to possibilities and new solutions, and develop our services constantly. It’s an iterative process and the result must always be a win-win-win situation for us, for our partners and first and foremost for our patients,” explains Birgit Paajanen, Project Manager at the Development Group of HUS.
When it comes to innovation, co-development between public and private sectors combines different capabilities and provides resources for all participants. HUS can offer research data and expertise in patient understanding, while companies can provide required tech as well as know-how in R&D and commercialization. Participating patients exchange anonymous data with new health care solutions. The work is always driven by a shared objective: to find answers to health questions and develop treatments to medical conditions. Common principles, operating models and guidelines set fair rules for partnerships.
From start to launch in half a year
Work on a public-private partnership agreement covering co-development cases throughout HUS started with Helsinki Business Hub last spring. In order to better understand the needs of private partners, 48 major companies that are currently involved with various HUS innovation projects were interviewed about their experiences and needs concerning innovation collaboration with HUS. These interviews sought to identify possible problems and challenges and find out what ideal partnerships would look like. In addition, the project benchmarked similar frame agreements between Karolinska University Hospital Center of Innovation and Stockholm County Council.
“We found that the information we received from companies was quite consistent and surprisingly enough, that it also correlated with the experiences of Karolinska. They gave us a lot of recommendations and insight into best practices, and discussions with Karolinska were very productive for both parties. In fact, after sharing our results with them, they also gained new perspective on certain points in their agreement and are looking into revisions. Again, it was win-win,” Paajanen assesses.
During the summer all the data and findings were reviewed, and the current version of the framework agreement was produced. Each step of the process was conducted as a joint venture and although there were a lot of participants, the project advanced quickly: in less than half a year the model has gone from defining stages to testing.
“This has been a true cooperation between all parties: HUS, Helsinki Business Hub, Karolinska University Hospital Center of Innovation and Gofore, which was responsible for project management and documentation. Everyone has taken part in each phase of the work and a large part of it has been done together across the table from one another. Transparency was one of our guiding aims, and I believe that it also enabled us to stick to our schedule. We even shared the research results with participating companies,” Paajanen describes.
First Helsinki, then the rest of Finland
The frame agreement determines the terms and conditions of innovation co-development work between HUS and privately-owned companies. It describes the collaboration model, common principles, rules, responsibilities, roles, resources, timelines and the progression of the project in question. Contracts are naturally case-specifically modified, but an existing framework aims to tackle possible problem points in advance and ensure that all necessary bases are being covered. Currently the frame agreement is being tested through HUS’s CleverHealth Network, an ecosystem created specifically for developing healthcare innovations.
“The collaboration in question includes one patient group, eight companies and HUS’s service and community. In addition, Finnish Innovation Fund SITRA is involved concerning data protection and privacy matters. Feedback is gathered from all parties and the agreement will be modified as needed. After all, this is an iterative process,” Paajanen explains.
The next phase of the project is making the partnership agreement available throughout HUS, but plans do not end there: a roadmap has been built until the end of 2021. As HUS aims to move its focus from operational co-development partnerships towards more strategic ones, the agreement also has value within the national social care reform. Hopefully, in the future HUS can show the way to the rest of the country and the model can be utilized within healthcare innovation structures nationally to enable smooth public-private co-development partnerships across Finland.