Coeliac specialists convene in Maribor, Slovenia
Finland is very widely represented at this year’s annual congress of the Association of European Coeliac Societies (AOECS). The scientific congress is held in Maribor, Slovenia, 13–16 September 2007, and the associated exhibition will feature enterprises and their competencies and products. The Coeliac Cluster that operates under Sitra’s Food and Nutrition Programme (ERA) has further improved collaboration between researchers, the industry and the Finnish Coeliac Society. The special goal for the cluster’s activities is to increase the export of Finnish coeliac competence into global markets.
The Finnish achievements showcased at the exhibition are Finland’s treatment practice, the Finnish Coeliac Society, the Coeliac Rapid Test, gluten-free beer and cereal, pure oat and chocolate products, all of which are the fruits of consistent long-term cooperation.
Professor Markku Mäki, a leading Finnish coeliac researcher from the University of Tampere, says that the Coeliac Rapid Test is a good example of Finnish high-level know-how, cooperation and dedication. The test is unique in the world and it enables the diagnosis of the disease, which is difficult to detect, in a couple of minutes in the comfort of one’s own home.
“We began intensive collaboration with the Finnish Coeliac Society over twenty years ago. We were also able to involve commercial companies in the project. Now we are seeing the commercial results of this persistent collaboration,” Mäki says. He and three other Finnish coeliac researchers will present papers at the scientific conference in Maribor.
The test was created through a product development and commercialisation process in which the scientific research was carried out by Professor Markku Mäki and Dr. Ilma Korponay-Szabo. The commercialisation phase was contributed to by Finn-Medi Research Ltd, while Ani Biotech Oy developed and licensed the Rapid Test that it is now being exported to 20 different countries.
The Finnish Coeliac Society as an umbrella
The Finnish Coeliac Society has been functioning for over 30 years. It is a significant player in gathering together[or “in compiling”] Finnish coeliac know-how. Most Finns suffering from coeliac disease are members of the Society, which serves as an important support for them.
“Our decision to invest in exporting coeliac know-how was based on the large amount of expertise on the matter“that had clearly accumulated in Finland. The highly motivated and cooperative Finnish Coeliac Society and a number of active, internationally focused SMEs were also a positive factor,” says Markku Mikola, Project Manager for Sitra’s ERA Programme. The aim of the Coeliac Cluster is to gather together players in the field and to jointly produce materials and opportunities to present Finnish know-how globally. The joint campaign at Maribor, involving many enterprises, is one example of this.
“Increasingly stronger cooperation will benefit research, companies and all coeliac disease sufferers. Such cooperation increases the knowledge and know-how of each party involved and gives an impetus to the development work, which will ultimately always be to the advantage of coeliac disease sufferers,” says Leila Kekkonen, the President of the Finnish Coeliac Society, and inviting all those present at the Maribor event also to participate the next upcoming major coeliac event. “All are welcome to the Keliakia 2007 fair in Tampere 30 November – 1 December 2007!”
Markku Mikola, Project Manager, Food and Nutrition Programme (ERA) Tel. +358 9 6189 9235 or +358 40 771 8030, firstname.lastname@example.org
Markku Mäki, Professor, University of Tampere, tel. +358 50 3656668. email@example.com
Leila Kekkonen, President, Finnish Coeliac Society Tel. +358 3 2541 321