On 20 October, after two years of implementation, the European Regions’ Network for Health Research and Innovation (RegHealth-RI), celebrated its Final Conference “Bridging the Divide in European Health Research and Innovation” in Brussels. The conference was co-hosted by the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Brussels and the Permanent Representation of the Republic of Poland to the EU and chaired by EUREGHA Chair, Toni Dedeu. During the conference, the findings of the RegHealth-RI project were presented, including the outcomes of the three international workshops, the report “State of the Art of Health Research and Innovation (R&I) in EU regions” and a set of policy recommendations building on the project’s results. The event gathered 80 attendees, including project partners, high level representatives and key stakeholders working in the fields of health, research, innovation, and regional development to discuss the gaps in health R&I across Europe.

The Ambassador of the Republic of Poland and Deputy Permanent Representative of the Permanent Representation of Poland, welcomed participants and stressed the perfect timing of the project conclusions and recommendations to improve and widen future funding opportunities in health R&I. Mr Arnd Hoeveler from the European Commission (DG RTD) showed figures on EU13 participation in projects and funding per sector, and presented the Widening Programme under Horizon2020. MEP Lambert van Nistelrooij stressed the importance of research and innovation for the future of our society.

Following the introductory session, the RegHealth-RI project consortium partners presented the main results of the project, the report on the state of the art of health R&I in European regions, including the developed Composite Indicator for Health Research Excellence. The results presented included the most significant factors hindering participation in Horizon2020 of EU less-performing regions/countries and factors hindering synergies between Horizon2020 and European Structural and Investment Funds, as well as potential actions for their remedy. Jonathan Watson from Health ClusterNET, presented the DanuBalt project and its main results, interaction and common findings with RegHealth-RI.

The final part of the conference was a roundtable discussion that gathered distinguished experts from different EU countries. The discussion centred around synergies between H2020 and ESIFs, proposals on how to widen the participation of EU less-performing regions and countries in Societal Challenge 1 “Health, Demographic change and Well-being” of Horizon2020 and new approaches to improve Health R&I in less-performing regions and countries in the EU.

For further information about the RegHealth-RI project, please consult the project website or contact reghealth-ri@rhing-net.eu.