Ton Vries, director of Syncom and chairman of Life Cooperative, remembers how it started. There was discussion about Avebe that would transfer her research to a large lab on the Campus Groningen. "Avebe is a cooperative," says Vries, "and what you see is that potatoes all have the same quality. Companies ensure quality together. And why? They speak to each other to deliver the best quality together.''
Vries and the other lifescience entrepreneurs concluded that the cooperative is a good form of collaboration. And so the Life Cooperative started to exist. ,, It is something that also fits very well in the Northern Netherlands '', says Vries. ,, The life-science companies together in Groningen are also a nice and well-organized group. We all do allmost something similar and therefore we could also do training, trade fairs, projects and purchasing together. ''
Growth thanks to the cooperative
And to collaborate in a cooperative even brings return in the wallet, as it turns out after a few years. Life Cooperative, which started in 2015, proves it: there is three percent more growth than in the Netherlands. Increasing revenue and reducing costs through intensive collaboration, that's the goal. Now, three years later, there are 21 members with more than 2000 employees and more than 200 million sales per year. There is an annual growth of 6 to 8 percent, while the growth in the national lifescience sector is between 3 and 5 percent.
Lisanne Brakenhoff has been added to the Life Cooperative as a project manager from Campus Groningen. She emphasizes that the cooperation has led to a reduction in costs and revenues up. And Vries adds: ,, We also look at how we can face the market together. Financing models, investments, investors, grants, everything is shared. And we first turn to the Life Cooperative when we need something. Lisanne Brakenhoff:" You notice that trust within the cooperative is growing. There is serious cooperation in various projects. ''
Because Life Cooperative is being noticed more and more in this way, there are more and more requests to join projects. Vries: ,, It remains to be seen whether it is all interesting for us. We also have SME companies that can make little time for business outside of the usual business. '' Vries thinks one of the bests projects is the Pharma Portal. There, so-called early phase ideas about drug development are jointly weighed on their potential. That is the phase that there is only an idea and for the rest a lot of costs and no revenues. Without such a phase, there are no new developments.
Nowadays there is money thanks to regional funds such as Pharma Connect Capital and Carduso. That will give the sector an innovative impulse. The lifescience companies in and around Groningen flourish mainly as a service sector. Vries: ,, We do not have many examples of start-ups that develop a new drug. Knowledge and money are there, now we need good ideas. It can then accelerate in the right environment. '’
Source: Dagblad van het Noorden; Bouke Nielsen