Visions from the EIC Programme Manager: Iordanis Arzimanoglou

Meet Iordanis Arzimanoglou, the EIC Programme Manager appointed for the area dedicated to biomedicine and biotechnology


EIC Programme Managers are responsible for a number of things: developing visions for technological and innovation breakthroughs, and managing actively the portfolios of EIC-supported projects by bringing together stakeholders and different communities and turning their scientific results into the market and have them applied at a societal context. FETFX asked the EIC Programme Managers their ambitions and visions for the upcoming years under the fully-fledged European Innovation Council in 2021-2027. The aim of this series is to guide the EIC Pathfinder R&I community to the new main concept introduced by the  EIC: the EIC Portfolio and its proactive management principle.


Iordanis Arzimanoglou, the EIC Programme Manager appointed for the area dedicated to biomedicine and biotechnology shared with us his visions on science-enabled innovation and the opportunities for European society.


Can you please introduce yourself and your expertise?


IA: I have 30 years of postdoctoral international career in the crossroads of genetics and innovation, having held research and senior executive management positions at both operational and strategic levels. I was the CEO of the Thessaloniki Innovation Zone managing company, and prior to that, CEO of the Aarhus Biotech Cluster managing organization, Denmark.


In both my CEO appointments, I have managed complex portfolio and shareholder interests and expectations in a cross-functional matrix setting and supervised the drafting of the strategic plans. The Danish Regional Authorities, former ERC Chairman, Cornell Medical University, NY, and former global head/strategic alliances of the Boston-based Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research, have all previously acknowledged the impact of my scientific and/or strategic management work. I have advised dozens of innovative diagnostics, drug discovery, and therapeutic SMEs in 11 different European countries and helped EC/REA and EIT.


As an academic, I was an Adjunct Associate Professor with the University of Aarhus, Department of Biomedicine. Earlier in my career, I was an Assistant Professor of Molecular Genetics at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, and prior to that, I was Chief of Cancer Genetics Research Program at Lennox Hill Hospital, New York. Before joining Lenox Hill, I was a research scientist in the Division of Medical Genetics at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York. I have obtained my Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry from the University of Athens, a Graduate Certificate in international business management from Boston University, and performed postdoctoral work in the Department of Medicine at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York.


Concerning the EIC project portfolio, the EIC PM foresees a proactive management. How do you intend to maximise the impact of the projects in the portfolio?


IA: Maximization of the impact for the portfolio projects will be achieved by:


  • Bringing the promising EIC-funded projects and startups to the radar of both, biotech/pharma corporate innovation managers and international top VCs focused on early-stage bioinvestments and by doing so, putting together pieces of the fragmented European bio-innovation community in the areas targeted by the portfolio;


  • By closely following the global R&I developments in the targeted bioareas, using the power of innovation intelligence through public and proprietary sources;


  • By applying where appropriate, the biotech industry portfolio-model currently on the rise in the States. Until recently, biotech companies tended to be established on the basis of a single technology or biological pathway. Over the past 3-4 years, an innovative business model has emerged for biotech in the US with key figure the portfolio manager. Portfolio Manager (PM) controls a set of companies spanning a range of technologies and/or disease areas. PM not only make investment decisions but also play critical roles in managing the portfolio companies with varying levels of decision making power over them.


How should a project, at an early stage (one that has just started), assess its economic and technological relevance to a portfolio? How would you foresee and imagine the milestone management of the project to assess the progress review?


IA: Technological relevance of a given project against the portfolio it belongs to depends on the degree of the common technological approach shared between this specific project and other projects in the portfolio. Economic relevance, on the other hand, is not that straightforward because, understandably, can only be assessed based on a series of assumptions given the early stage of project development implying uncertainties, and implementation risks that will be faced along the way.


As per the progress review, the active role of the EIC Program Manager to effectively manage the portfolio and ensure that the individual project remains on track business development-wise as judged by set milestones and is not lacking behind as compared to other projects in the same portfolio is key. EIC Program Manager ought to also recognize early, if adjustments are needed for the effective implementation of the individual project which, could potentially strategically reposition this project to a certain extent.



The views expressed in this interview are the sole responsibility of the interviewed EIC Programme Manager and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission.


Cover photo by MohamedHassan on Pixabay