Big Data, biobanks and registers – the future of healthcare in Europe

Three Think Tank roundtable meetings in Europe held by EIT Health this year have provided outcomes and discussions about how to use big data in healthcare. The last roundtable, held in Stockholm on 13th of August, focusing on biobanks and quality registers, has developed further into programme RABBIT (Registers And BioBanks in Transition) to promote better health and ageing of the European citizens. The summary report of Scandinavian Round Table “Improving healthcare with existing biobank and quality registers” is now published (attached).

“The Think Tank brought together EIT Health Partners with other leading healthcare stakeholders to agree on means to ensure that innovation reaches the citizens and patients who need it most. Our overall goal is a healthier European citizen,” says Jan-Philipp Beck, CEO of EIT Health.

Data Saves Lives

Scandinavia has a long tradition of biobanks that, together with health registers, have played a significant role in pharmaceutical development. The Swedish biobank landscape comprises 450 biobanks, of which the 250 managed by the County Councils/regions and universities contain approximately 160 million samples. Hundreds of thousands of samples are taken every day and each year, three to four million are saved in the county and regional biobanks. The most well-known in Sweden is probably the PKU-test sample, which has been taken from most newborns since 1975 in order to find unusual diseases earlier, since early detection gives better prognosis. Another example is the HPV-vaccine, now part of the childhood vaccination programme in Sweden, that was developed after linking some HPV-viruses to cancer. In the field of cancer especially, biobank samples combined with patient information have led to the development of several brand-new treatments and pharmaceuticals, as well as personalized medicine and improved diagnostics. The EIT Health sponsored program Stockholm3 Risk Score for improved prostate cancer diagnosis utilized biobanks and registers including a prospective study of 58 000 men in Stockholm in a close collaboration between Health care provider, Academia and Industry is a very recent example of the utilization of registers and biobanks.

The roundtable report is available here.

Programme RABBIT

A new programme, starting in January 2019, is a direct result of the roundtable meetings. Called RABBIT -Registers And BioBanks in Transition, the programme is an initiative of the EIT Health Scandinavian, and leverages the assets in this field of the 3 countries represented in the Scandinavian co-location centre; Denmark, Estonia and Sweden.

RABBIT aims to accelerate and improve the implementation of innovations using existing biobanks, quality registers and Big Data for industry, academic research and healthcare within the region. Learning from this pioneering work to enable scale-up to a European level is also an important goal. RABBIT has been granted 290 000 Euros seed money for programme development.

Merike Leego, Innovation Manager at EIT Health Scandinavia, appointed as Project Manager for RABBIT said: “The RABBIT programme will save time for EIT Health partners who plan access to biobanks and data registers, who plan to enter the healthcare market in Denmark, Estonia or Sweden or who plan innovation projects on personalised medicine in Scandinavia. RABBIT will map the landscape and create soft infrastructure to build new EIT Health innovation projects to solve the challenges in health industry and healthcare sector. There are benefits for start-ups, students and academic researchers and, of course for the individual patients as well.”

EIT Health Scandinavia presented a poster at the European Biobank Week 2018 showcasing the RABBIT programme.

“There are many challenges, but I think we have come a long way in a relatively short time. And, in fact, with a relatively limited number of EIT Health players, we reach approximately 8.7 million people representing more than fifty percent of the population in EIT Health Scandinavia,” says Per Matsson, Chairman of EIT Health Scandinavia. Per Matsson has been assigned as Chair of the steering committee for the RABBIT that was put in place recently consisting of Per Matsson, Henning Langberg, Eva Tiensuu- Janson, Anders Gustafsson and Lili Milani.

The RABBIT programme will be presented at the EIT Health Annual Summit in Lodz, Poland 4-5 December (

For more information and questions, please contact:

Merike Leego, Innovation Manager, EIT Health Scandinavia +46 (0) 731 55 30 23

Per Matsson, CTO Thermo Fisher; Chairman of the Board, EIT Health Scandinavia +46 (0)70-520 15 70