Europe has all the ingredients to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. Read about the health innovation ecosystem of Europe and what we can do together to improve the health of every citizen in the world. 

Probably many of you read or heard about this news article about Trump trying to buy the German medical company that is working on a vaccine for COVID-19 (coronavirus). Irrespective if this is fake news or not, the US has been buying research of European research institutes for years. And rightfully so, as Europe is known for its world-leading research institutes that perform vast amounts of research into new medical technologies and pharmaceuticals. It does not come as a surprise that two Dutch research institutes were the first to announce that they found an antibody against COVID-19 earlier this week.

Often when such promising results are shown, the invention is soon bought by US investors who further develop the technology and bring it to market. There are many underlying reasons for this trend. Europe has a fragmented market and is driven by a culture of consensus. The US, on the other hand, is the biggest single market for healthcare, with capital being treated almost as a commodity and an American culture that drives entrepreneurship. The sobering consequence is, that at the moment, 95 percent of European healthcare inventions never reach the patient, regardless of their relevance or brilliance.

So what can we do, together?


Europe has all the ingredients to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 (and vaccines for future pandemics yet to come) and bring it to the worldwide market, not exclusively Europe. Our fragmented market might be a curse for scaling a business, but it is a blessing for developing novel ideas. Chaos, crisis (burning platform), fragmentation and serendipity are a breeding ground for new, brilliant ideas. In my opinion, Europe provides a perfect ecosystem for this to happen. Our scientists are working on new ideas all over Europe (fragmented). By bringing those ideas together from time to time (serendipity) they develop into promising new inventions that can change the world.

However, to actually bring these promising inventions to the market, many of our scientists could use some help further down the line. Fortunately, an increasing number of companies and initiatives are stepping up to provide this guidance. At NLC, we call on each and everyone of them.

Let’s embrace our European fragmentation and work together to improve the health of every citizen in the world!

Bert-Arjan Millenaar

Founder & CEO NLC | The European Healthtech Venture Builder