Biomedical Clusters

Biomedical Clusters

Postby garethace » Thu May 18, 2006 10:36 pm

Might be an interesting study for some student of planning matters? A way to study this might be, to look at deregulation of health services, deregulation of airlines, communcations - or just about any 'service' you can imagine. I also think, we discussed at Archiseek before the notion of the biospherical shopping center. That nowadays a shopping center has to be a big glass dome - I think the shopping center should model itself more on inclusion of old and young folks together, like the open air street does. And some of the older shopping centers tried to do. The trouble with modern shopping centers like Dundrum, is they don't even include parking for bicycles, not to mind people who 'walk' to a center. It is about get in and get out with a gasonline driven vehicle. I like this notion about a hospital designed as a town. Certainly, when you think of all the super bugs lately, it might not be a bad idea to think of hospital environments as something other than glass houses for growing the next generation of super virus.

Brian O' Hanlon.



March 30, 2006
Biomedical downtowns
An intriguing story in next month’s Cluster magazine describes plans in China for the world’s first urban biomedical hub. Sascha Haselmayer, one of its advisors, writes that Fenglin Biomedical Centre will concentrate life science, medical care services, medical education, business incubation, and medical exhibitions, in the Xuhui district of Shanghai. Haselmayer says Fenglin is about “building a healthcare system that has to almost instantly provide for more than one billion currently unprotected people”. Fenglin can become a global biomedical hub, he says, that will “increase productivity, and speed up the process from scientific discovery to bedside product". Emerging trends such as lifestyle diseases, preventive medicine, and bio-informatics, have further stimulated interest from international partners. And there, for me, is where FMC is misconceived. It’s an urban development project, not a health service one. As I discovered in Korea a while back, biomedical clusters (here's a map of them) like Fenglin are popular with investors and multinationals. Large inflows of capital are attracted by tax breaks and what Haselmayer describes as “an inclusive yet visionary governance” that, in Fenglin's case, includes a Patenting Center to assist in interrnationalisation/localisation of patents. But the latest thinking on health favours the radical decentralisation of care - not its concentration, and not its technological intensification. A business model based on the privatisation of medical knowledge is also unlikely to benefit China’s population. Investors will probably get sick, too, when the wildly over-egged promises being made for biomedicine turn out to be chimeras.

Posted by John Thackara at March 30, 2006 02:31 PM

Comments
I enjoy the critical attention you have paid to my article, and clearly you raise some generic issues of concern. To clarify only a number of issues that appear to be mis-read from the article you review, i would like to point out that Fenglin Biomedical Centre is not seen as 'the' solution to the Chinese healthcare crisis, but instead one of the many components under development.
Fenglin Biomedical Centre is one of many such projects in China, and around the world. We alone have reviewed 21 of these, ranging from Berlin to Harvard and Kobe. The uniqueness of Fenglin has to be its integration into a fully operational urban environment. It is not an exercise in over-sized (and over-ambitious) masterplanning, but an urban evolution where already today you find much of the Biomedical Cluster at work.
And you are right, investors are strained to discern the hundreds of Biomedical Centres under development around the world. Yet, there are real successes (tangible and measurable) and often these draw on an intelligent governance structure. This is where a key challenge will lie in China and much of the rest of the world - to 'let things happen' - i.e. let those that make the Biomedical Cluster happen take control of some of the urban processes.
In Europe alone we have 150,000 Mayors, and each is considering how it can present itself in a globally competitive market-place. Often this leads to such 'over-egged' promises - as you call them - yet, few have the tools to develop realistic strategies for placing their cities into a future-oriented context.
Whilst not fully factual to the article in Cluster Magazine, your comments raise important issues that also we are concerned about. We have only just completed our second workshop with architecture and urbanism students from the Architectural Association in London and Tongji University in Shanghai to critically review what 'urbanisation' of innovation environments really means, in particularly in the Asian mega-city where rapid economic development creates new typologies and urban fabrics almost on a daily basis. Here is where the disciplinary boundaries of urbanism are challenged.

Posted by: Sascha Haselmayer at April 27, 2006 09:20 PM


Taken from,
http://www.doorsofperception.com/

Sascha Haselmayer's article on bioclusters will appear in the next issue of Cluster magazine here:
http://www.progettocluster.com/uk_rivista.htm
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Re: Biomedical Clusters

Postby garethace » Thu May 18, 2006 10:38 pm

Map of biomedical clusters:

http://mbbnet.umn.edu/scmap/biotechmap.html

One of the key things about health privatisation, and usually unspoken, is what Thackara refered to as the 'privatisation of medical knowledge'.
In other words, public institutions like Universities end up contributing enormous social value back into society, because every bit of research is in the public domain,
and therefore 'available' to anyone who wants to develop innovations based on that research.
Which medicine becoming increasingly technologically driven, and the huge investment of capital from private sources, all of that knowledge wealth ends up being owned by private domain too.
This is one of the strongest arguments I think, against privatisation of health system.

Brian O' Hanlon.
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Re: Biomedical Clusters

Postby garethace » Wed May 24, 2006 10:37 pm

Software is becoming a part of most folks lives these days. Whether it be a home owner, using personal finance applications, a kid using Encarta, a motorist using Autoroute, a small business using word processing, or a multi-national installing SAP. The hardware platform could be almost anything - laptop, web based, mainframe etc, etc. There are navigational applications for mobile phones nowadays. Just imagine public libraries, which were amongst the first to use information technology and networks to un-complicate the administration of lending books. Certainly, with cash dispensers, library information systems were the first real computers systems I interacted with as a younger man.

The packaged software industry is still almost exclusively a United States preserve. The Irish government recently subscribed to J.D. Edwards E-Government software - which is all more dollars flowing back across the Atlantic. Few other countries, except Germany, has managed to produce a top 100, much less a top ten company. Ireland has software companies, but most of them, and those in India do out-sourcing work for the US companies. The issue of health care, and its efficiency should be a major driving problem, for the software programming talent in this country. I seriously don't think we should buy in another boxed solution from the USA. We shouldn't squander opportunities and money trying to automated voting systems etc, etc.

One of the main reasons why privatisation of health care provides such an opportunity for wealthy capitalists to move in, is the public service, has dragged its feet for too long with inefficient and out moded concepts of operation. In an era of globalisation - we have these tiny health boards, who are unable to benefit from the sharing of information and intellectual resources. The opportunity to move information and expertise around faster - is just waiting to be taken advantage of. It couldn't be better for an investor, to leap in now and become established. We all know about the construction boom happening in the cities and towns at the moment. That is great. But where we are falling behind badly, is in software. Which like the physical environment, requires architects, engineers, planners and visionaires just the same. Now that we have the wealth and talent, I ask the government to support a native Irish software and technology industry.

Brian O' Hanlon.

In the United States, for example, the financial services industry has been an early and heavy investor in IT, with well-capitalised banks, insurance companies, and brokerage houses moving quickly to automate their transaction-intensive businesses. But the fragmented health care industry, shielded from competition, has been relatively slow to adopt IT, despite its complex information - and transaction-processing requirements.


From Nicholas G. Carr's book, Does IT Matter.
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