Strategic initiative: Registers and biobanks in transition

Accelerating the use of big data for health care

Biobanks and health data registers can give unparalleled insights, and Scandinavian and Estonian biobanks and health data collections are true goldmines. Access to qualitative sample and data collections can be very valuable tools in R&D, paving the way for new medicines, treatments and medical products. Access can, however, be perceived complicated.

Through the “Biobanks and Registers in Transition” strategic initiative, EIT Health Scandinavia aims to accelerate the use of big data, biobanks and health data registries in development of new healthcare solutions, through helping the EIT Health Partners in their R&D ambitions. The initiative seeks to address several issues which hinders the Partners from leveraging the Scandinavian and Estonian assets in biobanks and health data collections, including simplifying access, in order to gain improvements for R&D and to implement new innovations faster into the market.


Biobanks and quality registries are valuable tools for product development and validation, molecularly stratified clinical trials, follow-up of current healthcare outcomes, predicting impact of new products and services, including cost-benefit analysis, and more. Access to qualitative sample and data collections can give unparalleled insights, paving the way for new medicines, treatments and medical products. EIT Health is working to support its Partners in simplifying access to biobanks and quality registries, and to help them leverage the assets available in Denmark, Estonia and Sweden.


Ulrika Zagai, a trained biologist with a PhD in Lung Medicine and Immunology who has spent 11 years at Karolinska Institutet coordinating sample and data collections in both case-control studies and big cohort studies. She has also worked in the Swedish Twin Registry, the largest of its kind in the world, and as a lab manager in a research group focusing on microbiome and stomach cancer. She managed the EIT Health driven project ‘Registries and Biobanks in Transition’ (RABBIT) during April 2020 – Jan 2021. Prior to this it was managed by Merike Leego, Innovation Lead EIT Health. Currently this project is managed by Zara Pons Vila.

EIT Health’s objective is to accelerate the use of biobanks and health data registries by developing new healthcare solutions and in this way help industry accelerating their R&D. Ulrika was also involved in another another project, called Digital Sandbox were she facilitated collaborations with startups and biobanks & health data registries.

The initiative’s steering group consisted of:

• Per Matsson, previously ThermoFisher Scientific
• Jan-Olov Höög, Karolinska Institutet
• Eva Tiensuu Jansson, Uppsala University
• Kristian Krag, Region Hovedstaden
• Lukasz Kozera, BBMRI-ERIC
• Jeroen Kemperman, Achmea / Zilveren Kruis
• Roel van der Heijden, UMCG School of Public Health
• Anders Gustafsson, Karolinska Institutet
• Henning Langberg, Copenhagen Healthtech Cluster
• Gawyn Edmunds, Region Skåne
• Lili Milani, University of Tartu

The initiative

The strategic initiative Registers and Biobanks in Transition was seeking to address several issues, with the overall goal of simplifying access to biobanks and quality registries in order to gain improvements for R&D and to implement new innovations faster into the market, in particular by leveraging the Scandinavian and Estonian assets in biobanks and data registers.

The initiative is an outcome from discussions taking place in the 2018 EIT Health ThinkTank Round Table, in particular the one held on 13 August 2018 in Stockholm, during which it was noted that there are different rules in different countries impacting how biobanks and registers act today. Based on these discussions EIT Health chose to address the situation of access to registers and biobanks, starting with a focus on the situation in Sweden, Estonia and Denmark. This initiative is piloted in Scandinavia, but we expect to expand it all over Europe.

The initiative focuses on industry needs, setting up dialogues with industry representatives, mapping their needs, and establishing ways of providing information, encouraging use of biobanks, and strengthening collaboration between industry and biobanks/register. We foresee that the strategic activity will support the EIT Health Partners by saving time and simplifying access to biobanks and quality register.

Planned outcomes:


For EIT Health Partners and other healthcare innovators:

  • Fragmented information from biobanks and registries made easy to find on one site.
  • Increased quality of innovations using big data.
  • Easy validation of developed products and disease prediction algorithms, or stratification of target group of clinical trials.
  • Identifying challenges and needs.

For Biobanks:

  • Increased exposure.
  • Knowledge of industry needs.
  • Bringing industry closer to biobanks.

For patients and the healthcare system:

  • Biobanks and registries offer a wealth of possibilities to advance healthcare through evidence-based approaches.
Why is this an EIT Health project

We aim to create soft infrastructure to facilitate use of big data, health registries and biobanks primarily among EIT Health Partners. Value for EIT Health:

  • A showcase of how to support usage of biobanks and registries in developing healthcare solutions.
  • Testing the working model in one region/CLC and multiplying all over the Europe.
  • Increased quality of EIT Health project proposals by using big data.
  • Better quality of projects, improved chances that the project outcomes will be adopted by the market.
  • Increased awareness and use of biobank assets among EIT Health Partners.

External Partners:



Tehnika Postimees

Biobanks & Health Data Information Hub

Access biobanks and health data registers. We make it easier to establish productive collaborations that will help shape the future of healthcare and translational medicine.

Zara Pons Vila, PhD
| Collaboration Lead | EIT Health Scandinavia
Lukasz Kozera