NEWS: UCI’s Innovation Platform Joins Forces With the Netherlands

The Netherlands is a small country that’s had to rely on collaboration throughout its entire history. It’s been a nation of merchants and financiers.

Fifty years ago its coal mines began closing. So, the country had to reinvent itself. Now it’s reinventing itself again, this time with innovation and entrepreneurship.

It’s in close proximity to Belgium and Germany. And, counts India and China as trade partners. But because of its size, its market is limited.

So, it looked to the deep pockets of American VC’s. And found an eager partner in UCI Applied Innovation, UCI’s innovation platform, which wants to extend its global reach.

About a year ago, Applied Innovation entered into a similar partnership with the Canadian government. See related story here.

On Monday, UCI Applied Innovation entered into a formal agreement of collaboration with Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus b.v.

As part of this partnership, Brightlands leased space at the Cove, the physical space of UCI Applied Innovation.

At the Cove, Brightland representatives can now mingle with some of the VC and angel investors that also have offices there, like Auctus Global Capital, Tech Coast Angels and Mark IV Capital.

At the agreement signing on Monday, Applied Innovation Executive Director Richard Sudek reiterated his opinion of how critical it is for universities to drive innovation ecosystems.

“Gone are the days where universities can be silos,” said Sudek, who also serves as Chief Innovation Officer.

While he noted that it’s important to have a lot of different players contributing to the success of innovation ecosystems, he said it “really will be universities and government interactions for ecosystems of the future.”

“We envision the Cove as a soft landing spot for startups from around the world,” Sudek said.

While the Netherlands is a hotbed of healthcare and lifescience innovation, it needs external support, said Hank Hanselaar, honorary consul of the Netherlands.

“We can’t do this ourselves,” he said.

He stressed the importance of the joint agreement providing for follow up for the Dutch startups, not just critiques and feedback, similar to what some Dutch startups got last year when they came to the Cove to meet with investors.

How it Will Work

Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus b.v. is a joint venture of Maastricht University, Maastricht University Medical Centre and the Dutch province of Limburg.

Similar to Applied Innovation, it deals with the exclusive assignment of tech transfer of all IP of Maastricht University and the Maastricht University Medical Center.

It typically comercializes and funds about 10 companies a year.

But, unlike Applied Innovation, Brightlands does take equity in the startups it launches. Applied Innovation does not, at this time.

Brightlands has commercialized 126 companies and filed 72 patents.

The practical goal of the partnership is to help both the Dutch and OC startups gain commercial traction and enter new markets.

At the Cove, this will be achieved by the likes of workshops, customer intros, investor intros and corporate intros.

The investor intros will be facilitated by Luis Vasquez, associate director of venture capital collaboration at Applied Innovation. He started that position last Fall.

The agreement also focuses on research, licensing and exports, although some of these topics are still being figured out to see which works the best.


The idea for the collaboration started when two Dutch companies that came out of RegMed XB in the Netherlands, were sold to companies with factories in OC. Those two startups were Isotis and Progentix.

Isotis develops bone repair and regeneration technology products. It was acquired by SeaSpine Holdings in Irvine. Progentix was acquired by
NuVasive, a med-device company in SD. Progentix’s portfolio consists of a number of calcium phosphate synthetic bone substitutes, which romote bone regrowth.

RegMed XB is short for Regenerative Medicine Crossing Borders. It a virtual institute of Dutch and Belgian public universities and governments and private health foundations and company partners that work together to develop regenerative medicine tools and devices.

RegMed XB is in its Phase 1 stage and is looking to expand the program to more topics in musculoskeletal disease (e.g. osteoarthritis) cardiovascular disease, and organ regeneration.

It’s run by director Marianne van der Steen, who was at the Cove Monday also. She floated the proposition of perhaps starting an American RegMed fund here in OC.

Van der Steen is also the director of the Global Scale-up Program, dedicated to ventures in life sciences and medical devices in the U.S. and Europe.

Last year, Sudek visited the Maastricht Health Campus.

About The Author

Deirdre Newman is a long-time journalist, who's covered OC startups for a few years.

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