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Innovative Health Initiative – what’s in it for society?

The European Commission has proposed nine new partnerships, mostly public-private, under the EU’s flagship research funding program – Horizon Europe. One of them is the Innovative Health Initiative, which will be set up as a de facto continuation of the Innovative Medicines Initiative (2007-2013) and Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 (2014-2020) and will run between 2021 and 2027.


In May 2020, the GHA and CEO reports investigated two public-private partnerships – IMI and BBI – and showed that they failed to meet the goals that justified them. For IMI, it meant not overcoming market failure and not improving the development and availability of health technologies for unmet medical needs.

Has the new Innovative Health Initiative proposal taken into consideration recommendations from independent evaluations of civil society and the expert group to improve the governance, transparency and accountability of this new health partnership?

To answer this question, civil society assessed whether IHI will be able to respond to its stated challenges, unmet public health needs and achieve its goals.

We found that the European Commission has not considered the majority of civil society recommendations and feedback given by the expert group in independent evaluation of IHI’s predecessor. 

Some of the most concerning provisions include:

  • imbalanced governance of the partnership
  • weakened representation of CSOs
  • lack of strong transparency safeguards, including when it comes to industry’s in-kind contributions
  • and limited commitment to guarantee affordability, accessibility and availability of publicly funded research results.

The assessment was prepared by Global Health Advocates, Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research and AIM – International Association of Mutual Benefit Societies.

Civil society calls for:

  • the creation of a dedicated Stakeholder Group, to allow for meaningful consultation and communication with the public and relevant groups.
  • the Innovation Panel to be composed of independent representatives of the scientific community with an obligation to declare any potential conflict of interest, and to be chaired by a selected chair from among its members.
  • the IHI to prioritise challenges listed in some of the most recognised sources, such as the WHO Report on Priority Medicines for Europe and the World
  • the Work of IHI to be informed by a Global Health Strategy and a Communication on Global Approach to Research and Innovation to inform R&I priorities and ensure needs driven health R&I policies
  • the introduction of new requirements, according to which all beneficiaries of EU public funding for R/I for treatment, prevention or diagnosis shall commit to access, effectiveness, affordability, and availability principles
  • a restriction on the possibility to opt-out from open science requirements to be limited to rare circumstances, which should be transparently monitored and reported by the European Commission. 
  • the introduction of clear methodologies for quantifying additionality, in kind contributions, leverage and competitiveness gains to ensure information is transparent and accessible.



Marcin Rodzinka

EU Advocacy & Policy Officer