Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


INNOMOL Report Summary

Project ID: 316289
Funded under: FP7-REGPOT
Country: Croatia

Periodic Report Summary 2 - INNOMOL (Enhancement of the Innovation Potential in SEE through new Molecular Solutions in Research and Development)

Project Context and Objectives:
The European Union attributes great importance for exploring new ways to overcome challenges to modern health care. Challenges represent: cancer, autoimmune diseases, degenerative diseases, infectious diseases, chronic diseases, viruses, and many others.

In order to tackle these challenges the InnoMol project has fostered a research pipeline at the Rudjer Boskovic Institute (RBI) that facilitates new avenues of innovation and technology for the investigation of relevant diseases. The envisaged pipeline integrates multiscale molecular solutions to derive predictive, quantitative and practical models for biological systems.

Such a research pipeline is unique in Croatia, and probably the first of its kind in South Eastern Europe. In order to achieve main objectives InnoMol has followed an action plan that includes the upgrade of infrastructure, human resources, and innovation capacity at the RBI, thereby reinforcing 3 key fields of science, e.g. Medicine, Biology, and Chemistry.

Exploitation of this concept will lead to affirmation of the RBI as center of expertise and innovation in the ERA, fostering leadership in regional economic and socially sustainable development, and to overcome challenges to advanced health care for the benefit of actual and future patients.

The main project objectives are:
• Stimulate the realisation of the full research potential of RBI by unlocking and developing emerging excellence in the Molecular Biosciences
• Help RBI to become a dynamic leader in Molecular Bioscience research in South Eastern Europe
• Help to strengthen the capacities of RBI researchers to successfully participate in research activities at the Community level, including FP7 and Horizon 2020.
• Contribute to new innovative avenues for R&D in Croatia and the region
• Stimulate the realisation of synergies with European initiatives related to InnoMol such as the European Technology Platforms (ETPs)
• Help to forge strategic partnerships between RBI and appropriate SMEs
• Raise awareness for the use of innovative technology for improved R&D
• Stimulate the realisation of sustainability after project completion

Project Results:
The work performed since the beginning of the project is bundled in the InnoMol Action plan that includes a coherent set of 4 measures:

• Measure 1: Recruitment
• Measure 2: Twinning
• Measure 3: Research Equipment
• Measure 4: IP development

Recruitment plans have been fulfilled completely, thereby efficiently crosslinking 3 key fields of science, e.g. Medicine, Biology, and Chemistry through 8 expert positions in the field but also interdisciplinary sciences such as Bioinformatics. This has created a productive, state-of-the-art environment, where for example a new bioinformatics tool has been designed so experimental scientists can extract relevant information from proteomics experiments and combine it with data available in globally available databases (Munoz Torres et al., 2016). Other developed bioimaging tools aid in protein-protein interaction studies and life-cell imaging (Lepur et al., 2016).
In particular, worthwhile to point out is that during reporting period 2, hired IP manager allowed effortless preparation of two patent applications originating from InnoMol support. Altogether, as envisaged in Annex 1 following supporting staff has been hired during the project that allowed flawless project implementation and maximum visibility:
• 1 administrative assistant
• 1 Web Page administrator
• 3 technical support staff
• 1 IP manager

Human resources have been upgraded through altogether 46 exchange secondments involving 33 of the 36 partnering organisations spread throughout the ERA. Significant benefits were derived from all exchanges and documented in detail in the secondment reports. Joint experiments have been performed, new methods have been acquired, and scientific services that are not yet available at RBI have been consumed at partner institutions. Last but not least, networking with InnoMol partners resulted in the submission of Horizon 2020 project proposals, e.g. WIDESPREAD-2014-1 TEAMING (project ID 664547), together with Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz (Germany), and TWINNING (H2020-TWINN-2015, project ID 692434) with partners HUGI, MUI, and BIO, and numerous other national and international proposals where partnering organizations are participating as collaborators or consultants.

During the reporting period, 2 workshops involving InnoMol partners were successfully organized, and a final workshop was held including only InnoMol team members. Two conferences, the 3rd Croation microscopy conference, and the Game of Epigenomics conference has been thoroughly planned and organized in 2015 and 2016 as envisaged in the workplan.

The resources available at RBI have been complemented by the EC contribution and feature the major scientific platforms of genomics, proteomics and imaging, linked together through the envisaged pipeline. Reporting period 1 featured major equipment for Bioimaging and Molecular interactions, whereas reporting period 2 focused on the Genomics platform and in particular the Next Generation Sequencing unit (NGS). The NGS platform features the latest development lines of tthat kind of equipment, released in 2015 and 2016, respectively, representing breakthrough sequencing technology for small sample sets, not available before 2016.

Dissemination and visibility activities have been at the highest standards with dozens of TV and radio appearances, press releases, leaflets, flyers and posters, and presentations at numerous events. In reporting period 2, a total of 16 articles were published in the press, together with 8 TV and 9 radio announcements. More than 60 Croatian web portals covered the news on the Innomol topic targeting different public. The biggest reach was among business and general public. The messages conveyed by the press release successfully reached media and targeted public.
The active participation of RBI researchers at international conferences and meetings was significantly enhanced with 16 researches attending 16 high profile international conferences and meetings, bringing the count to altogether 41 meetings during the project.

Potential Impact:
Significant impacts are expected in the three worlds of “Medicine”, “Biology” and “Chemistry”. In these fields, InnoMol featured partnering with 33 European high-profile organizations that contributed to a better integration of Ruđer Bošković Institute (RBI) in the ERA.
Secondees established contacts with leading experts in the field (at partnering organizations). The intensive networking resulted in several new international projects including InnoMol partners, thereby contributing to sustainability of research of InnoMol staff, using established State-of-the-Art equipment. Gathering experience in leading projects will be important for further advancing careers and driving cutting-edge science.
Envisaged 8 expert positions resulted in employment of altogether 10 individuals who filled available positions subsequently. Positions were filled by either foreigners, nationals, or returning nationals, thereby contributing to some extend to reverse 'brain drain' effects. Actually, 5 of the 10 experts have received either permanent positions (Industry, University, RBI) or follow-up postdoctoral positions for several years.
The fully operational InnoMol research pipeline significantly enhances quality of research carried out by RBI researchers. Covering Molecular Biosciences research, such as Genomics, Proteomics, Bioimaging and Bioinformatics, and High-Throughput technologies from third generation sequencing to array technology, mass spectrometry, spectroscopic techniques, advanced microscopy, biomolecule modelling, and active compound design, it contains all necessary building blocks for successfully contributing to smart specialisation, and in the end high-quality research.
The technological platform is based on an 'open source' concept and will give Scientists, Clinical Physicians and Research managers access to basic research and clinical application, and diagnosis, whereas RBI is providing S&T support and expertise to suit needs of the scientific community in order to transfer technology and Know-How.
In particular concerning reporting period 2, by completing the NGS platform, we engaged in negotiations at RBI to found a Spin-off company, dedicated to R&D in Advanced Genetics, and goals such as improving personalized medicine in collaboration with the Croatian Health Care system. Preparations are in final stages, and envisaged is employment InnoMol staff after project end through the Spin-off Company to build on already acquired knowledge and know-how. Offering advanced genetic testing, for example in cancer prevention, most common to he wide public is breast and ovarian cancer genetic testing, we are closing in on world wide standards for application of new cancer therapies that rely on genetic testing prior therapy.
Additionally, through unprecedented insights into the genetics of human disease, InnoMol has the potential to boost the public health sector of SEE and contribute by dramatically decreasing overall costs for genetic analysis, and increasing capabilities to tackle yet unknown diseases in order to provide better or new therapies.
Concretely, several institutions have been seeking InnoMol NGS services, such as the Institute for Oceanography and Fisheries in Split, and the Department for Biotechnology at the University of Rijeka. Certainly, others will follow.
Last but not least, InnoMol represents a milestone for two distinct but interrelated philosophies in research and development, e.g. academia and industry, and will serve scientists who study human genetics as well as the industry of biotechnology. As the NGS platform is designed as open source technology, there are no limitations to the type and number of future NGS assays that may be developed. This is certainly in-line with the first Work Programme of Horizon 2020 aiming in supporting research and innovation activities in identified key enabling technologies. Thus, InnoMol will improve significantly the potential of RBI to participate in upcoming Horizon 2020 projects. Also, suitable calls Horizon 2020 have already been identified in areas such as understanding health, ageing and disease, with goals to improve diagnosis.
Finally, it is envisaged that some of the patent applications as described in section 2.2.4. will yield in future royalties or licencing fees.

Finally, RBI will act a role model for success in the ERA, and provide motivation for other groups in Croatia to follow its steps to raise overall RTD capacities at the RBI and elsewhere in the region.

List of Websites:


Oliver Vugrek, (Senior Research Associate, Head of Department)
Tel.: +38514560946
Fax: +38514561010
Record Number: 192039 / Last updated on: 2016-11-21
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