With an intensive week in Hangzhou, Nanjing and Shanghai, the SSSTC Stepping Stone Symposia completed their last tour in China this year. This Stepping Stone Symposium addressed various frontiers of innovation on medical technology. The Swiss delegation consisted of experts from research universities and universities of applied science. During the course of the symposium, they got to know a number of Chinese leading researchers and had a lot of interactions with them through talks and personal exchange.
In Hangzhou, Zhejiang University hosted in the Scholars from Switzerland. Speakers from both Chinese and Swiss side presented their latest researches at a one-day symposium. In Nanjing, the Swiss delegation had meetings with the Chinese medical technology experts from Nanjing University and South East University. They exchanged their ideas about their current research and potential bilateral collaborations in the future. Upon arrival in Shanghai, swissnex China welcomed the Swiss delegation with a dinner reception. At dinner, the Swiss delegation had free conversation with not only Chinese professors, but also industrial partners in medical technology.
The last station of the symposium was held in Shanghai Jiaotong University. Med-X Research Institute. The symposium mainly focused on medical robotics, medical imaging and tissue engineering. Several professors shared their ideas about the medical technology field and their impression about this symposium with swissnex China.
Prof. Le Xie, the chief organizer of this symposium in Shanghai, presented his research on Medical robot and virtual surgery. He mentioned that medical technology is an interdisciplinary subject which needs talents from both medical and engineering backgrounds. He would like to establish a platform for research collaborations between Chinese and Swiss researchers in medical technology. In this way, he hopes to close the gap between China and other leading countries in this field.
Prof. Niko Stergiopulos is a professor from EPFL and co-founder of several start-ups in medical technology, e.g. EndoArt, Antlia SA. He said that start-ups and technology transfer are essential for medical technology in the next 10 years. Start-ups could close the gap between the customer needs and the products offer from established companies. Prof. Stergiopulos regarded international collaboration as an important aspect for the future. So far China is little known in the western in terms of medical technology. Besides, Chinese tend to have different ways to deal with thing, which makes it difficult for start-ups to enter the Chinese market. The importance to bring China to the play has often been overlooked. Therefore, he considered academic collaboration and industry partnership with China to be an important step towards the future growth in medical technology.
Prof. Weihan Yin, the Associate Dean of Med-X Research Institute, was very passionate to build up collaborations with the Swiss partners. He said that this symposium offered great opportunity for the scientists from both countries to meet with each other. He considered this kind of exchange as important and necessary. The speeches at the symposium also had very high quality. He hoped that further collaborations can be established after the scientists get to know with each other and identify the complementary research areas.
Prof. Marcus Textor, Professor Emeritus of ETH Zurich, had a very international group with focuses on 3D cell culture systems, drug delivery systems, etc. He had 4 PhD students from Nanjing, which performed their researches in his group for one to two years. Now they all became professors in China and other countries. He said that was a great experience working with them. People from different cultures also have different ways approaching scientific problems. It was very interesting for him to see how translational medicine works in China. The process from basic lab research to clinic test and to market introduction goes much faster in China compared to its European counterpart. Europe researchers could benefit from the fast translation in China in their work with partners in China together. Chinese researchers could also learn from the Swiss scientists in such kind of collaborations.
Besides pure academic talks, Mr. Christoph Teichler from Johnson & Johnson also addressed the challenges of medical technology companies in China. One of the challenges for the R&D center of his company in Suzhou is recruiting engineers with medical background. Chinese universities are still at the early stage to train students with both engineering and medical knowledge. This means that students exchange program between China and Switzerland in this field can play an important role to train talents, which meets the needs of both Chinese and international companies located in China.
--- Contributed by Meijun Liu, Academic Intern