Transatlantic Life Sciences Partnership

Mnl Improving patients' lives together

During an official economic mission from the Netherlands to Boston led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte and former Minister Bruno Bruins for Medical Care of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, representatives from public investment agencies, the life sciences industry and other organisations convened to discuss an international partnership. This partnership will further strengthen the ongoing collaboration in the life sciences between the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Netherlands. As a result of this discussion, the Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment and their Dutch counterpart, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). This MoU will form the foundation of a Massachusetts Netherlands Transatlantic Life Sciences Partnership.

Key messages

  • The purpose of the Memorandum of Understanding is to further strengthen the ties between Massachusetts and the Netherlands.
  • To grow the life science and health ecosystems in both areas, so that life science innovations will improve patients’ lives and contribute to a healthy society.
  • By organising several activities throughout the ecosystem, from academic research and start-ups to financing and healthcare systems.



A key reason for the partnership can be attributed to one of the founding fathers in the biotech scene, Dutchman Henri A. Termeer, who became CEO of Boston based Genzyme. He was a true pioneer who stressed the importance of biotechnology to serve patients. With the MoU, the signatories want to emphasise the strategic importance of the life sciences and to mutually recognise both Massachusetts and the Netherlands as two international life sciences hubs. With the MoU in hand, the signing parties want to pave further the road that Henri A. Termeer paved before.   

The partnership promotes mutual understanding between the life sciences communities and aims to facilitate global collaboration. The signatories will provide their support in accelerating the growth of their life sciences hubs and the global opportunities for their research organisations and companies. 



Further steps

By the end of 2020 at the latest, the signatories aim to realise an action plan, which will include an action plan containing an overview of various activities and meetings that meet for the purpose of the MoU.

About Henri Termeer

Henri A. Termeer was a visionary, pioneer and one of the founding fathers of the worldwide Biotech industry. Henri was born in the Netherlands, studied in the Netherlands, and became CEO of a biotech company in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He set a standard to which every patient should be treated if necessary, regardless of the prevalence of their disease, their location or ability to pay. He built the path towards a sustainable rare disease business model on which many have followed in his footsteps since. 

As CEO, Henri facilitated the growth of the small start-up Genzyme into a business with 12,000 employees serving patients in more than 90 countries. Unfortunately, Henri passed away in 2017 at the age of 71. This was after the acquisition of Genzyme by Sanofi. His legacy of entrepreneurial culture where science and innovation improve the lives of patients is carved in stone.

“The nature of rare diseases is that these are global. Treating all patients became natural. It was not a choice. We would treat regardless of circumstance. We became the lifeline for these patients.”- Henri A. Termeer.

The Henri Termeer Legacy Program (HTLP) aims to continue Henri’s legacy by providing a platform where aspiring entrepreneurs can connect with mentors - mentors who carry on their own experience or spirit of Henri’s mentorship.



  • Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment
  • Massachusetts Life Sciences Center
  • Henri A. Termeer Tribute Committee
  • MassBio

The Netherlands

  • Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy
  • Health~Holland (Top Sector Life Sciences & Health)
  • HollandBIO

Words of the signatories

Focco Vijselaar, Director-General Enterprise and Innovation at Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy:‘The Netherlands and Massachusetts have successful life sciences communities. By joining forces in this partnership, they can both be strengthened.’

Mark Sullivan, Executive Director of Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment: ‘By signing this MoU we underline the great opportunities that lie ahead of two formidable life sciences ecosystems, here in Massachusetts as well as in the Netherlands. This international partnership will help create economic development and investment in the sector.’

John Maraganore, co-chair of The Henri A. Termeer Tribute Committee, Board Member of BIO and CEO of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc.: ‘This MoU is a great demonstration of the international leadership of Massachusetts in life sciences, as well as the fast-growing development of the Netherlands as an environment that champions a vibrant ecosystem for life sciences and health innovation. As a company headquartered in Cambridge,Massachusettsand with strategic and growing European operations in the Netherlands, we are strongly convinced that the collaboration potential between innovators in these two leading life sciences hubs is immense, and patients are waiting for the fruits of our work.’

Hans Schikan, Top Team member of Health-Holland: ‘Working together is part of the Dutch DNA. By collaborating with the best, we can identify innovative solutions that matter.’

Robert K. Coughlin, President and CEO, MassBio: ‘Disease has no borders, and neither should the research and development have borders when it comes to creating new therapies and cures. We are looking forward to embarking on this international partnership with the Netherlands and sharing the talent, resources, and capabilities of Massachusetts’ innovation ecosystem so we can all more efficiently bring new tomorrows to patients around the globe.’

Annemiek Verkamman, Managing Director at HollandBIO, the Dutch biotech industry association: ‘This transatlantic partnership provides a solid basis for increased collaboration between both our vibrant life sciences communities. We are looking forward to helping create opportunities for innovation and investments and fostering mutual understanding of our life sciences ecosystems.’

Stay tuned

Interested in updates and information related to the MoU between Massachusetts and the Netherlands? Follow the website of Health~Holland to stay up-to-date.  

Pictures of the MoU
Picture left: Mark Sullivan (Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment) and Focco Vijselaar (Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy) sign the MoU laying the basis for a Massachusetts – the Netherlands Transatlantic Life Sciences Partnership. Standing, the Dutch Minister for Medical Care Bruno Bruins. 
Photography by © Kyle Klein and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the USA

Picture right: The representation of the supporting organisations of the MoU and the trade mission to Boston. From left to right: Hans Schikan (Health-Holland), Henne Schuwer (Dutch Ambassador in the United States), John Maraganore (Henri A. Termeer Tribute Committee, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals), Charlie Baker (Governor of Massachusetts), Belinda Termeer (Henri A. Termeer Tribute Committee), Mark Rutte (Prime Minister of the Netherlands), Robert Coughlin (MassBio), Bruno Bruins (Dutch Minister for Medical Care and Sport), Annemiek Verkamman (HollandBIO), Hans de Boer (VNO-NCW), Travis McCready (Massachusetts Life Sciences Center).
 Photography by © Kyle Klein and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the USA