“The European Medicines Agency, a unique opportunity” – Etienne Vervaecke

Etienne Vervaecke - Managing Director of Eurasanté

How is Eurasanté involved in Lille’s bid to host the European Medicines Agency (EMA)?

In the aftermath of the British vote in favour of Brexit and the announcement of the relocation of several European agencies that are present in London, including the EMA, Eurasanté has fully played its role of attractiveness tool serving the European Metropolis of Lille and the Hauts-de-France region by campaigning for a bid from the City of Lille to host the agency based in the United Kingdom. Scientific and industrial players quickly joined this movement by calling on them to host the EMA in France.

From that moment on, an operational and interdisciplinary team was set up between the City of Lille, the MEL, the HDF Region and Eurasanté, which resulted in a solid initial bid.

Eurasanté stood by elected officials to support this bid before the State, and this one was finally retained over Paris and Lyon thanks to its many attractive features.

As a tool for economic development in the healthcare sector, Eurasanté exercises its role as a territorial promoter in this application file for Lille, highlighting the strengths of the regional health sector. The Hauts-de-France Health Cluster relies on a rich ecosystem conducive to innovation: The Eurasanté Bio-Incubator (ranked in the top 15 of the best incubators in Europe for the emergence of pharma-biotech start-ups), the Regional University Hospital Centre of Lille constituting a major European scientific site, a network of 250 healthcare companies managed through Clubster Santé, etc. Our expertise allows Eurasanté to be, in reality, one of the operational structures supporting Lille’s bid.

What do you think are the strengths of Lille that support this bid?

Today, Lille has 21 world-class competitors, such as Barcelona, ​​Vienna, Amsterdam or Stockholm. But the city, the Hauts-de-France region and, on a broader scale, France have arguments to make: quality of life, a very large network of healthcare stakeholders, a well-performing industry, tailor-made premises for the EMA, etc.

Above all, the city has an exceptional geographic location. Lille is only 1 hour and 20 minutes from central London, 35 minutes from Brussels and 50 minutes from the runways of the Paris Charles de Gaulle airport! This is an undeniable strength compared to the other candidate cities. Lille can also offer optimal reception conditions for the families of the 900 employees of the EMA, which could tip the balance in favour of our bid. The last advantage: Lille was already one of, with London, the European cities competing to host the EMA at its creation in 1993.

What would the establishment of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in Lille represent for you?

Don’t forget that the EMA has a key role: The Agency is responsible for assessing and monitoring medicinal products for human and veterinary use, based on safety, efficacy and quality criteria, in order to protect human and animal health in the EU.

The EMA relies on the specialised in-house expertise of its staff (900 highly qualified employees), as well as the external scientific expertise provided by the Member States (nearly 4,000 European scientific experts).

The presence of the EMA in Lille would have immediate effects on the competitiveness and attractiveness of both the city and the entire Hauts-de-France region. It is also an entire ecosystem that would be boosted with the creation of many jobs, the likely establishment of many pharmaceutical laboratories and companies. Finally, it would be a formidable recognition of the expertise of an entire region.


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