Health Innovation Global Forum: Italian scientific innovation at Expo 2020 Dubai

At the Italian Pavilion the first international event on the importance and promotion of scientific research, technology and data to build resilient and sustainable health systems.

Global Forum - Expo dubai

Innovation, technology, collaboration and sustainability to give a concrete impulse to Italian scientific research.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a strong impact on health and economic growth but has also shown that investments in the health sector, in particular innovation in life sciences, represent a great opportunity to relaunch the industrial sector and to improve people's health and well-being. 

Investing in the life sciences sector, an interdisciplinary area that includes the pharmaceutical industry, biotechnology and health services, is important for the development of a sustainable economy capable of creating great opportunities in the health, agri-food, chemical, pharmaceutical sectors. and environmental protection. 

Health Innovation Global Forum: innovation, research, technology and inclusiveness at the Italian Pavilion

On the occasion of "Health & Wellness Week" of Expo 2020 Dubai, on National Technology Cluster of Life Sciences Trade winds, in collaboration with the Bracco Group (Gold Sponsor of the Italian Pavilion, ed) e Italy Pavilion, organized the “Health Innovation Global Forum”.


This is the first international event with which the Alisei Cluster, as a reference body of the Life Sciences, brought together speakers with an international profile to discuss and promote the new frontiers of scientific research, technology and data to build health systems. resilient and sustainable in developed and developing countries, in line with the activities and declarations developed within the G20 Italy. 

The debut of the “Health Innovation Global Forum”, which aims to become an annual event, took place in the amphitheater of the Italian Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.

“Expo 2020 Dubai is the first world event during the pandemic and innovation and health are at the heart of scientific diplomacy with the aim of raising public awareness of innovation in the health sector. Expo 2020 Dubai reaffirmed the centrality of life sciences in the current economic and social context and the need to move in a collaborative, public-private, and multilateral approach ". Affirmed Commissioner General for Italy at Expo Dubai, Paolo Glisenti. "Our partnership with the Bracco Group allows us to bring the Italian model, in some respects unique, of science and competence, into the debate and comparison of experiences that we have been hosting and animating in recent months". 

At the center of the debate of the "Health Innovation Global Forum" the theme of health with a view to strengthening the world network on Life Sciences and national health systems.

“A year ago no one would have imagined that so many vaccines and drugs would arrive in such a short time. A success resulting from global research best supported by international and national institutions. An exceptional effort of the Life Science in the name of collaboration between public and private which has proved to be a valuable investment for the well-being and growth of people and society. " He has declared Diana Bracco, president of the Alisei Cluster, in his speech that kicked off the first edition of the Health Innovation Global Forum. 

“The challenge now is not to stop by initiating a profound change of mentality in the way we all look at research and healthcare. Our intent is to transform the Global Forum into an annual event to periodically take stock of the new frontiers of innovation in the field of Health & Life Sciences ". “The Alisei Cluster wants to be a great engine of innovation - concluded Diana Bracco - and aims to favor an industrial policy that sees research and innovation as an essential driver of the progress of society and the economy”. 

The forum, moderated by Federico Ferrazza, Director of Wired Italia, saw the participation, in presence and online, of representatives of the institutions and the business community. Maria Cristina Messa, Italian Minister of University and ResearchHE Sarah Bint Yousif Al Amiri, UAE Minister of Science and Advanced TechnologyCarlo Bonomi, President ConfindustriaMaria Cristina Russo, Director Global Approach & International Cooperation in R&I, European CommissionAlessandro Spada, President Assolombarda

“The UAE is now considered the most resilient country in the world from the point of view of life sciences and innovation in health. We have started partnerships to face the challenges posed by the pandemic through the use of technology and we are open to new collaborations for the provision of health services ". The words of HE Sarah Bint Yousif Al Amiri, Minister of Science and Advanced Technology of the United Arab Emirates.

HE Sarah Bint Yousif Al Amiri

The minister also highlighted the UAE's commitment to life sciences and the investments made in the health sector, necessary to improve the efficiency of the health system more and more ”.

Science, technology and institutions. The Italian Ambassador to the UAE spoke about the support from the institutions for the promotion of progress in the life sciences through collaborations with the United Arab Emirates. Nicola Lener. “We started cooperation with the UAE authorities and universities before Expo and we will continue to do so afterwards with the whole country system. The embassy will soon be equipped with scientific advice to support and confirm the importance of cooperation with the Emirates in this sector ". 

HE Nicola Lener

Support for innovation is obtained from “excellent coordination between ministries. When we talk about health care, we are talking about universities and research, health, development and other ministries and we must share common actions ”. He has declared Maria Cristina Messa, Minister of University and Research in his remote intervention.

“Innovation in the life sciences is not a question, but a duty. The humanities are at the heart of innovation and progress. This has been shown with the implementation of covid vaccines in less than a year since the start of the pandemic. To strengthen innovation in these sectors, it is necessary to focus on interdisciplinary education and the way is to “offer today's students different courses that can be complementary to the typical ones”. The Italian minister added underlining the importance of research because “from the one driven by curiosity to the industrial one, they must be put at the same level of interest and funding. This is why we have invested more than 6 billion euros in public-private partnerships for the NRP, creating networks to promote development ”.

The new frontiers of science: precision medicine and circular health

The importance of precision medicine and genomics in the process of transformation of national health care systems was discussed, in connection, by the Professor Sir Mark Caulfield, CEO of Barts Life SciencesQueen Mary University of London recounting the British experience. The UK is a world leader in genetics and genomics. 

The project testifies to this UK 100000 Genomes which "focused on integrating genomic medicine into the National Health Service using the sequencing of 100,000 genomes of patients suffering from a rare disease or cancer". The project is mainly funded by the National Institute for Health Research and from NHS EnglandWellcome Trust , Cancer Research UK and the Medical Research Council. Genomics England, owned by the Department of Health & Social Care was established in 2013 for the 100,000 Genomes Project. “Genomics England, in collaboration with the NHS - explained Sir Mark Caulfield - has set up 13 genomic medicine centers, the NHS Whole Genome Sequencing Center and the Genomics England Clinical Interpretation Partnership (3500 researchers from 33 countries). The recruitment of project participants was completed in 2018, with the sequence of 100,000 genomes ”. The challenge is to integrate advances in genomics into health care to improve disease diagnosis and treatment. An objective in which "several countries are participating, including Australia, Denmark, France, Japan, Sweden, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates engaged in programs that will transform genomics in health care". Professor Sir Mark Caulfield concluded. 

Can circular health be considered a new model for the future of health and sustainability? To this question he answered Ilaria Capua, virologist and director One Health Center of Excellence, University of Florida. “Pandemics are transformative events and right now is the time to look forward to new models for pursuing health and sustainability, which are our top priorities. Investing in a circular approach to health, an interdisciplinary approach that includes clinical science, doctors and the sciences of knowledge, would lead to multiple benefits for the well-being of humans, animals, plants and the environment ". "There is a common goal to improve innovation in digital and other health-related technologies, taking into account the need to protect personal health data." 

Panel discussion

During the second part of the “Health Innovation Global Forum” a round table was held chaired by some illustrious representatives of sector and industry institutions. In attendance: Paola Testori Coggi, Special Advisor ALISEI and spokesperson for the T20 Italy, Global health & Covid Task Force; Massimiliano Boggetti, President of Confindustria Medical Devices e Lorenzo Wittum, representing the B20 Italy, Health & Life Sciences Task Force. Connecting: Riccardo Palmisano, President of Federchimica-AssobiotecMassimo Scaccabarozzi, President of Farmindustria e Pierluigi Paracchi, CEO and Co-founder Genenta Science, a spin-off of San Raffaele in Milan and is the first Italian company to be listed on the Nasdaq. 

Paola Testori Coggi spoke about the proposal of the T20 Italy Global Health Task Force. “” Italy has managed with its G20 presidency to put health at the center of governments' interests. The pandemic has paralyzed global health and economic growth, exacerbating inequalities and putting unprecedented pressure on health systems. The 4 main areas on which the G20 health focused were: organizing health systems to provide quality health care, investing in education and training of health professionals to increase capacity, promote the use of digital health and data, and ultimately, greater accessibility to vaccines, therapies and diagnostics ".

Paola Testori Coggi

"The conclusions of the G20 Health were clear: the commitment of governments is to strengthen the efficiency and resilience of health systems, increase the capacity of alert and surveillance systems, ensure rapid production and distribution of vaccines and improve social conditions to cope with inequalities. Crucial is the contribution of science and innovation to achieve these objectives ".

The B20 Italy Health and Life Sciences Task Force, set up to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, has worked to identify the potential of Life Sciences in innovation and to address the challenges of today and the future. 

To illustrate the main results of the work of the B20 Health & Life Sciences Task Force, was Lorenzo Wittum. “Promote science, technology and data; health care based on value and sustainability and resilience of the health system, are the three policy recommendations within the document developed by the Task Force B20 on health and life sciences. They were designed to shape a revolutionary model for a permanent strategic dialogue between institutions and stakeholders aimed at a change of mentality towards the enhancement of health as a strategic asset ". 

Massimiliano Boggetti in his speech focused on the importance and progress of medical technologies - medical devices and in vitro diagnostics (IVD) - in the prevention and treatment of patients, he underlined the role of Italy in this sector. "Italy must focus on the sector of innovation in the life sciences because the health systems that invest in innovation are also the most sustainable ones". “Medical devices are essential to enabling the medicine of the future, and IVDs are crucial to more than the 80% of any clinical decision. In addition, by increasing the duration and quality of life, medical devices ensure more sustainable healthcare around the world ”. In this scenario "Italy, among the EU countries, has a competitive and innovative medical device sector, characterized by small and medium-sized enterprises (94% of SMEs)".

Italy also from the point of view of the biotech industry, "is well positioned to play an important role in the coming years and is ready and open to international collaborations, along the entire path of the Life Sciences, from research to clinical development, and in bioproduction ". He said Riccardo Palmisano. “In the Italian biotech industry there are internationally recognized excellences. The Italian authorities are working to seize the opportunity, focusing both on strategic health research and innovation plans as required by European guidelines. We are in fact confident that the lesson learned from the Covid-19 pandemic will improve on the one hand the collaboration between public and private, simplifying rules and bureaucracy, speeding up processes, and on the other hand will provide financial resources from the EU Next Generation Plan and the PNRR. The EU Next Generation and PNRR funds represent a unique opportunity for the national Biotech sector capable of accelerating its growth and strengthening its impact on competitiveness, economic growth and the well-being of civil society ".