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Advanced Regional Translation of Excellence into Medical Innovations for Delayed Aging

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ARTEMIDA (Advanced Regional Translation of Excellence into Medical Innovations for Delayed Aging)

Reporting period: 2015-06-01 to 2016-05-31

1.1 The challenges being addressed
The ARTEMIDA (Advanced Regional Translation of Excellence into Medical Innovation for Delayed Aging) phase 1 proposal relates to the topic Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation, Focus area Personalising health and care, Work Programme Health, demographic change and wellbeing. The proposed Centre of Excellence in Translational Medicine (CETM) will address the following challenges:
1. insufficient critical mass of science and centres having sufficient competence to engage countries and regions strategically in a path of innovative growth;
2. the gap in research and innovation performance;
3. building on newly developed capabilities;
4. claiming a competitive position in the global value chains;
5. building on partnerships between leading scientific institutions and low performing partners.

1.2 Relevance for the European society
By 2025 more than 20% of the European population will be 65 years old, with the most rapidly growing population group being people over 80. Age- related diseases and disabilities pose an unprecedented challenge for the national healthcare budgets and the EU health systems. Many older people still work, especially in developing countries, where in 2010, the labour force participation of persons aged 65 years or over was around 31%. However, there are health disorders, characteristically associated with senescence (e.g. neurodegenerative disease, cancer and diabetes), which reduce productivity, decrease quality of life and impose exorbitant costs to healthcare budgets and society as a whole.

1.3 Overall objectives
The ARTEMIDA phase 1 project has three overall objectives
1. To articulate a clear, detailed and achievable long term strategy, based on regional smart specialisation, and the quadruple helix cluster concept (to create and exploit synergies created from the collaboration and cross-fertilisation among (a) legal entities conducting research (universities, research organisations and research for-profit bodies); (b) business entities (large enterprises and SMEs); (c) representatives of regional/local/national authorities and (d) representatives of non-governmental organisations (e.g. patient support groups) in Slovenia and in the wider South East European (SEE) region that builds the regions research and innovation capacity through training and transfer of know-how that are focused on healthy aging;
2. Detailed provisions for good data management and management of the project (e.g. clear goals, performance metrics, productivity incentives, quality control & quality assurance, performance based promotion) and a properly functioning, accountable, transparent and service-oriented CETM administration that follows relevant ISO standards and obtains ISO certification including certification for customers’ satisfaction;
3. To review measures for creating an innovation-friendly environment that stimulates the creation of start-ups and spin-offs, spreading innovation-focused research culture in the SEE region, focused on development of marketable, high-value-added products and services, thus enhancing and creating new research and innovation clusters that will integrate the region into global value chains.
These science and innovation objectives will be achieved by a partnership between the leading scientific institutions of Karolinska Institutet (KI), Sweden and ELIXIR - Europe’s research infrastructure for life science data (Elixir node at The European Molecular Biology Laboratory – The European Bioinformatics Institute, United Kingdom)- and Slovenian public higher education and research organisations University of Ljubljana, National Institute of Biology and National Institute of Chemistry, SMEs and public health provides from Slovenia with international collaborators.

1.4 Conclusions of the action
The overall objectives of ARTEMIDA phase 1 were achieved by implementing the following measures:
1. A comprehensive long term Business plan was prepared that defines the CETM’s activities for the next 10 years;
2. Relevant information gathering measures, critical review of the state of the art, workshops and other information-gathering and information-exchange related activities necessary for preparation of validated guidelines, rules and recommendations for the study of ageing related diseases and data science in Teaming Stage 2 were completed;
3. Planning of informal and formal training and educational activities for ageing related diseases and data science, that will provide the present and potential Teaming partners with essential research, innovation and team working skills was completed;
4. Activities to develop new or promote more effective collaboration with existing regional research and innovation clusters within SEE and the wider European research area were defined to the level of specific deliverables and included into the submitted ARTEMIDA Teaming stage 2 application.
2.1 Overview of results
The following key results were achieved during ARTEMIDA phase 1:
1. The CETM is incorporated as a non-profit, private research institute;
2. The Government of the Republic of Slovenia sanctioned the CETM’s Act of Incorporation thus giving consent for the CETM to incorporate for profit companies (i.e. spin-outs, startups) to exploit research and innovation opportunities;
3. The ARTEMIDA and CETM trademarks were registered at the European Union Intellectual Property Office; This will enable the CETM to promote its research, standardisation and training activities at the national and international level with the ARTEMIDA trademark and develop/market/protect intellectual property assets with the CETM trademark.
4. The CETM’s business plan for the next 10 years was prepared. The business plan outlines the scope and breath of research, standardisation, training and innovation activities in the field of diabetes, cancer and neurodegenerative disorders translational research. According to the business plan, the CETM’s innovation and intellectual property management is based on best practices and know-how from the Karolinska Innovation system ( ). Thus representatives from KI Innovation Office will provide training and know-how in intellectual property management and product/services development and marketing. EMBL-EBI-ELIXIR Hub’s collaboration with the CETM will focus on (a) development of a data management platform for a next generation sequencing core facility; (b) support services for biomedical/omics and clinical data standards, patient registries and data management plans; (c) data management services framework with data integration and integrative data analysis support; and (d) support for crosscutting data management and curation issues in diabetes, cancer and NDD research standardisation and training.
5. To support the CETM’s sustainability with an adequate pool of current and potential collaborators, the following support and coordination measures were implemented: (a) a roadmap for informal and formal training and educational activities for ageing related diseases and data science; and (b) organisation of a transnational translational medicine cluster including representatives from 37 (governmental, non-governmental, local government, higher education, research, health and SME) organisations from Slovenia, 50 research and higher education organisations from Central and SEE and 42 research and higher education organisations from Europe and the rest of the world, 129 organisations in total. Each of the 129 organisations will collaborate within specific deliverables listed in the ARTEMIDA phase 2 grant proposal.

2.2 Exploitation and dissemination
The objectives of exploitation and dissemination actions were:
1. To establish effective dissemination of user-targeted outputs of the ARTEMIDA phase 1 to the consortium and relevant stakeholders at the national and international level;
2. To foster national and regional collaboration between the research organisations, industry and the public, on promoting healthy aging and prevention of age related chronic diseases, following the European Research Area standards, guidelines and best practices in research and innovation;
3. To integrate the ARTEMIDA phase 1 activities into running European efforts devoted to healthy aging (e.g. ESFRI, BMS, ELIXIR and ISBE), and other relevant programmes (i.e. CASyM, ERASysBio+, JPND and IMI);
4. To cultivate and promote a dialogue between science and the society, creating a stimulating atmosphere for sustainable research development and innovation endeavours.

To meet these objectives, the following dissemination, exploitation and communication channels were used to promote ARTEMIDA phase 1:
1. The CETM web portal was launched to inform all target audiences in Slovenia and internationally (;
2. Scientific conferences, workshops and summer-schools were used to engage and educate relevant target groups;
3. Dissemination at the national and international level via e-mail lists (e.g. ELIXIR Slovenia, Centre for Functional Genomics and Bio-Chips, Brain Research Advocacy Campaign by SiNAPSA);
4. Dissemination through Slovenian state and private media;
5. Publications in peer reviewed national and international scientific and professional journals.
3.1 Expected Impacts
1. The incorporated CETM will function as a hub of a translational medicine cluster for promoting, supporting, developing and coordinating research and innovation activities in Slovenia and in the wider SEE region through the ARTEMIDA network, thus in the long term serving a population of over 100 million.
2. Development of a properly functioning service-oriented administration, based on published ISO standards, as well as an education and training (ISO 10015:1999) system that is customer focused (ISO 10001:2007, ISO 10002:2014, ISO 10003:2007, ISO/TS 10004:2010), with the assistance of the leading scientific institutions KI and EBI-ELIXIR-Hub will promote and disseminate best practices in research and innovation at the national level and within the SEE region.
3. An internal system for monitoring and improvement of research and innovation performance will ensure the CETM’s long term sustainability and its contribution to a measurable and significant improvement in the research and innovation culture in Slovenia and in the wider SEE region.

3.2 Scientific and Innovation Relevance for the European Region
World-class biomedical and health-related research and innovation in the 21st century is only possible by combining resources of trained personnel, equipment, infrastructure and know-how on an inter-regional scale into fully integrated research and innovation clusters. Research at the proposed CETM will focus on identification of clinically relevant disease subtypes, predictive and prognostic biomarkers and novel molecular targets for tailored therapeutic interventions for diseases linked to oxidative stress and age-related diseases and disabilities. Optimization and standardization of clinical and experimental protocols for translational research in the field of pharmacogenomics will enable personalized medicine for cancer, diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases. Thus a sufficient critical mass of scientific output and resources will be achieved to engage in a path of sustained and innovative growth, building on newly developed capabilities and benefiting the participating regions by creating new, high added-value jobs, attracting investments into the local economy and securing a higher quality of life for the local community.

3.3 Benefits
Benefits of the proposed CETM for the wider European region
1. The CETM will address the challenge of an ageing European population and an increasing chronic disease burden of neurodegenerative disorders, diabetes and cancer that are jeopardising the sustainability and equity of European health and care systems;
2. The CETM will contribute to breakthrough research and innovation in biomedical and health-related research with the translation of these findings into preventive, personalized curative, promotional and rehabilitative health care services to improve health outcomes, reduce health inequalities and to promote active and healthy ageing in Slovenia, the SEE region and wider area;
3. The advanced partnering organisations Karolinska Institutet and EBI-ELIXIR-Hub will provide the expertise and support and this will be combined with the research and innovation potential of the SEE region to accelerate the CETM’s translational efforts, thus enabling a faster and more comprehensive contribution to active and healthy ageing in the European region.
Benefits of the proposed CETM for Slovenia and the SEE region
Although Slovenia and many countries in SEE have outstanding researchers in the field of biomedical and health-related research their research and innovation potential is limited by the current local policies and practices, size of their national economies and by the national pool of potential subjects available for medical research. These limitations cannot be overcome only by additional training, reorganization or a more efficient use of local resources. The proposed CETM will address these limitations by:
1. Providing an innovation friendly environment and culture with a strict quality management system (ISO 9001:2008), service-oriented administration, education and training system (ISO 10015:1999) and meticulous project quality management (ISO 21500:2012).
2. Upgrading, integrating and exploiting the research and innovation potential in the field of aging with special reference to neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes and cancer in Slovenia and through the ARTEMIDA project network also in SEE thus utilising the capacities of a combined population of over 100 million.
Benefits of the proposed CETM for the leading scientific institutions KI and EBI-ELIXIR-Hub
Due to the systematic CETM efforts to spread the ERA culture in the region, three streams of benefits will accrue to the leading scientific institutions KI and EBI-ELIXIR-Hub from their association with the CETM.
1. Access to a SEE pool of patient data for clinical studies;
2. A fresh flow of new research and innovation approaches from qualified scientists from the SEE research area to the leading scientific institutions;
3. New partners that will be willing and qualified to participate in research and innovation actions initiated by KI or EBI-ELIXIR-Hub.