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BLOG: Innovative biotech and medtech technologies that were successful in Horizon 2020 in 2015

February 02 2016

Acquiring funding for research and development is competitive and you want to have the highest possible chance of success before you apply to Horizon 2020. The development of innovative technologies is a key success factor in Horizon 2020, but which technologies were considered innovative and competitive in Horizon 2020? 

From our daily practice, we have selected four technologies that were among the “hottest topics” under Horizon 2020 applications in 2015.

1. Cancer immunotherapy

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Cancer immunotherapies - that use the body’s own immune system to attack cancer - are among the most successful applications we have seen in Horizon 2020. Several therapies such as cell-based vaccines and antibody therapies have successfully obtained funding to develop clinical proof of concept. The EU funded both clinical phase I and II trials.

2. Liquid biopsies

Personalised medicine classifies tumours according to their genetic make-up and a tissue biopsy is needed in order to get this information. Tumour biopsies are invasive and provide a limited snap-shot of a tumour. New technologies, so called liquid biopsies, are among the latest innovations to enable the identification of the genetic profile in a non-invasive way. New platforms for circulating tumour cells (CTCs), cell-free tumour DNA (cfDNA), extracellular vesicles (EVs) and Tumour-Educated Platelets (TEPs) are being developed to transform cancer diagnostics. Successful proposals had promising proof of concept data and a clear clinical utility.

3. Functional imaging

The field of medical imaging is in transition from a primarily anatomy-oriented field towards one that decodes function and physiology from images. The enormous potential of this approach is recognised by reviewers and we have seen granted Horizon 2020 proposals for image-derived fractional flow assessment, quantative imaging approaches to assess treatment susceptibility, MR-based fibrosis assessment, quantification of the EPR effect and ultra-high resolution SPECT scanners.

4. In-vivo and in-vitro biomarkers

Technological advances such as next generation sequencing have spurred the discovery of biomarkers. In 2014-2015, Horizon 2020 introduced the new SME Instrument which focused on biomarker development and companies active in this field had a good opportunity to use the SME Instrument to complete their business plan or conduct large clinical validation studies. Furthermore, we have also seen many research and innovation projects focused on the use and validation of biomarkers, mainly as a companion diagnostic tool for new therapies.

In 2016, we expect successful applications in the field of advanced therapies such as new gene-editing technologies and cell-based therapies. Furthermore, successful funding applications are expected in the field of systems medicine, regenerative medicine and imaging biomarkers.

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Patrick de Boer, MSc
+31 (0)653897487