Space-based biomedical opportunities at MEDICA

14 November 2005

The European Space Agency together with a number of industrial partners will exhibit examples of innovative space-based solutions for the biomedical sector at MEDICA 2005, the world’s leading industry fair in the sector of medicine and health, which will take place in Düsseldorf, Germany from 16 to 19 November 2005.

Space for health on Earth

ESA and its partners from industry will be present at MEDICA 2005 to inform European companies about how the Health and Medical industry can profit from research opportunities in space.

From drug development to telemedicine and diagnostics, the weightlessness environment offers unique business opportunities. Space provides an extraordinary laboratory for conducting research, which cannot be performed on ground. By switching off the distortions of gravity, it is possible to develop and test new products and innovative technologies.

Far above the constraints of the atmosphere, and free from the effects of gravity, the International Space Station (ISS) is a one-of-a-kind tool for scientific research and technological development. The ISS with its unique environment has allowed scientists to understand the role of gravity in physical processes such as astronaut’s bone and muscle loss and to cast light on and contribute to the development of countermeasures against widespread diseases like osteoporosis.

Today, the ISS is open for commercial utilisation. The facilities, resources and services available onboard the Space Station provide unique tools which enable the performance of groundbreaking scientific research, and offer companies the opportunity to increase their competitive advantage by using the space environment as a platform for activities such as applied R&D and Technology Demonstration.

Space-based solutions

Satellite technology in telemedicine
Telemedicine

"Often solutions found in space are the seed of innovation on Earth, and ESA invites Industry to make use of them", says Frank M. Salzgeber, Head of Commercial Development for the ISS at the European Space Agency. At MEDICA 2005, ESA and its partners will present examples of research in space and space-derived innovations, and will inform how medical companies can access business opportunities on the International Space Station.

The Erasmus User Centre, based in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, is the European point of reference for information and support on zero-gravity research platforms such as drop towers, parabolic flights, sounding rockets, unmanned space capsules and the International Space Station.

At MEDICA, the Erasmus User Centre will present the newly issued European User Guide to Low-gravity Platforms and demonstrate the Erasmus Experiment Archive, a comprehensive database of experiment records based on ESA-funded or co-funded experiments that have been performed in space or on ground, and will inform about the synergy between research in weightlessness and on Earth in the area of human physiology.

Also part of ESA is the European Space Incubator (ESI), which promotes the creation of start-up companies using space-developed technologies and/or satellite systems in non-space markets. ESI, the hub of the 35-member European Space Incubators Network (ESINET), helps entrepreneurs to bridge the gap between a business idea and a solid business plan.

ESINET will be present at MEDICA to inform companies how their business ideas can be supported by a business incubator. Also, innovative projects will be presented which ESA performs together with ESI incubatees, such as Mathcomp, a company developing medical instrumentation to treat breast cancer using space technology and HISTAR, a company that uses satellite and advanced ground systems to recognise malaria outbreaks and help prevent its spread. In addition, innovative space-based solutions will be demonstrated, such as the O3 Ozonizer, the new Ozone sterilizer for medical instruments being the latest example of a space technology spin-off.

A network of competent partners for supporting innovative business

Check bed
Space research in the health sector: bed rest study

In order to present the vast array of opportunities space can offer to the Medical Industry, and to provide a complete range of services which support companies bridging the gap between space and industrial needs on ground, ESA joins forces with a number of specialist industrial partners.

ISS Lab Ruhr GmbH is the service provider that manages the network of commercial agents on behalf of ESA offering access to research opportunities in microgravity conditions.

MEDES, the French Institute for Space Medicine and Physiology, is specialised in application of space research to the health sector; its activities in bed rest studies aim at developing countermeasures to prevent the adverse effects of weightlessness and at investigating the physiological effects of immobilisation.

The Germany-based Enterprise Management Technology Transfer (EMBLEM) is an affiliate and the commercial arm of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). EMBLEM facilitates and accelerates the transfer of innovative technology from basic research to industry in various fields such as: Biotech, Pharma, Molecular Biology Solutions and Medical Devices.

The PIN Project (Promotion of Industrial Users of the International Space Station) of the German Space Agency DLR aims at offering access to the utilisation of the International Space Station for the industrial R&D sector in Germany. At MEDICA, the PIN Project will present examples of industrial projects for research in weightlessness, from telemedicine to in-vitro diagnostics.

The Russian Institute of Bio-medical Problems (IMBP) has over four decades pioneered innovative methods to secure the health and safety of cosmonauts. Its activities focus among others on developing effective measures to lessen spaceflights’ negative impact; IMBP will demonstrate at MEDICA its cosmonaut’s rehabilitation suit.

The joint booth can be found at MEDICA in hall 11, booth H03. Scientists and specialists will be available throughout the fair to discuss applied research opportunities in weightlessness.

ESA's ISS Commercial Promotion Office

Together with its international partners, ESA is also instrumental in constructing and operating the International Space Station ISS which is now open for commercial utilization. ESA, through the Commercial Promotion Office, offers its unique research facilities on board the ISS to the European Life Sciences sector, both for innovative scientific and technological research and marketing activities. ESA’s Commercial Promotion Office supports companies from developing their visions to the successful implementation of complex projects, enabling them to gain competitive advantage on the global market.

About the Commercial Agent Network

The Commercial Agent Network is the exclusive partner of the European Space Agency for marketing and selling the use of the European facilities and resources on board the International Space Station to the biotechnology, health, food and nutrition market sectors throughout Europe.

ISS Lab Ruhr GmbH is the prime contractor coordinating this network which comprises the companies AGT Engineering (Italy), EMBL EM Technology Transfer GmbH (Germany) and MEDES – Institute for Space Medicine and Physiology (France). The Commercial Agent Network offers comprehensive customer support services ranging from project identification to implementation.

For more information:

Dr. Michael Massow
ISS Lab Ruhr GmbH
info@iss-lab-ruhr.de
Tel +49 231 9742 7900

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