There are many reasons for which Finland is a forerunner in biobanking. One major benefit giving Finland an advantage over other countries is its progressive legislation. Since September 2013, the new Finnish Biobank Act has eased the problems caused by an overly strict consent doctrine which was limiting the access to samples and data. The Act enabled the collection of old data if agreed by the donor, while making it easier to collect new data with a broad informed consent.
The Finnish Biobank Act “promotes trust, equal access to data and samples, protection of privacy, quality and professional practice, acceleration of innovation activities, and public scrutiny.” (Soini 2013)
Secondly, positive results from opinion polls show the Finns trust the research community and want to contribute. Processing of personal data is seen as secure due to Finland’s sophisticated ICT-tools developed by the Finnish and European biobanking network, BBMRI.
Also, with a relatively isolated gene pool, longitudinal sample collections and quality health care registers, Finland offers a versatile and rich ecosystem for the biomedical field.
Collaboration in the international Biobank infrastructure
With the aim to facilitate high quality research, 15 European countries are collaborating in a biobank network called Biobanking and BioMolecular resources Research and Infrastructure (BBMRI). BBMRI has its national nodes in all participating countries. Finland was one of the 11 founding EU member states of BBMRI in 2008.
Future opportunities for investments in Finnish Biobanking
1) In context to advances in medicine:
Increasingly, decisions regarding the prevention and treatment of diseases will be based on an individual’s genetic makeup. The research behind these advances will be reliant on easy access to resources such as biobanks. Finland is already strongly backing this movement, as shown through the National Genome Strategy, with the hope to enhance the health of the population.
2) As previous:
Thanks to the Biobank Act and other national strategies, Finland has the potential to further grow into an international leader in genomics research and genomics related enterprise. For example, Finland’s National Genome Strategy works to enable the effective use of genomic information by 2020 in order to achieve population health benefits.
Also, with the help of booming Finnish health innovations, the health technology industry has expanded quickly, and now dominates Finnish high tech exports. Finland has a great deal of knowledge and intellectual capital, which means that world-class products and services can be produced using the latest technology.
That is why Finland’s biobanking is a smart investment within the ever-growing healthcare industry.