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Advanced Research Incubator in Biosciences (ARIB): A centre of excellence for disseminating quality biomedical research and boosting the next research generation for sustainable growth

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ARIB (Advanced Research Incubator in Biosciences (ARIB): A centre of excellence for disseminating quality biomedical research and boosting the next research generation for sustainable growth)

Reporting period: 2017-09-01 to 2018-08-31

The overall objective of the project was to perform a feasibility study on the Teaming for Excellence proposal to establish a research incubator for junior groups according to the “Dresden model” of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG). The project activities converged in formulation of a robust business plan for the incubator, its scientific direction, autonomy within the Institute of Molecular Genetics of the Czech Academy of Sciences (IMG), and widening of impact to the broader academic and private sector in the Czech Republic as well as towards the public.

The major conclusions of the Advanced Research Incubator in Biosciences (ARIB) Teaming project are:
1. The business plan shows that establishing a research incubator for junior research talent at IMG is financially viable.
2. Research in the area of in vitro organogenesis has enormous scientific as well as application potential and leverages the strengths of the partners.
3. IMG and MPI-CBG are willing and eager to engage in strategic partnership that will result in bi-directional flow of scientific and organization expertise.
4. The Moldau/Vltava PhD and Post-doc programs will interlink research of the Teaming partners and will contribute towards education of new generation of Czech researchers.
5. ARIB will fill with life the recent investments into scientific infrastructure in the Central Bohemian region.
6. ARIB will bring in new scientific directions and technologies that will populate the nascent innovation friendly environment with ideas, know-how and intellectual property needed to create new spin-offs.
7. There is a broad interest in the Czech scientific community in developing early career researchers in cooperation with the Max Planck Society through ARIB’s open access program.
WP1 was responsible for efficient management of the whole project(D1.4). The rights and obligations of the both Teaming partners in the project were laid down in the Consortium agreement (D1.1). The Quality assurance plan facilitated a smooth run of the project (D1.3). In total, 5 Executive Board and 11 project office meetings took place, supplemented by many bilateral meetings (D1.2).

Communication, dissemination and exploitation activities were performed by the WP2. The communication channels were set up (D2.1). The unified visual identity of the project was implemented to create a strong brand of ARIB. The project website (D2.3) and the twitter account were used for spreading information to the stakeholders. The main outcome of the WP2 was the Operational plan for dissemination and exploitation (D2.2) which was discussed during two WP 2 meetings (D2.4). In total, 14 PR activities were performed during the 12-month period (D2.5).

The main goal of WP3 was to establish a framework for successful transfer of ARIB outputs and research results into praxis based on best praxis of the DRESDEN-concept (D3.3). The WP3 involved mostly Czech stakeholders, however the advanced partner took the lead to ensure that its technology transfer knowhow is reflected. Inspirational meetings showed best praxis examples and suggested upgrades of technology transfer activities at IMG (D3.2). All WP3 activities delineated how to incorporate ARIB into the broader plans for further socio-economic improvement of the region (D3.1).

The WP4 tasks were fulfilled as follows:
• The scientific agenda was defined through a series of meetings culminating with the joint scientific meeting. Studying organ formation using 3D cell culture models was agreed on as a promising agenda having a large potential for basic research as well as technology transfer, (D4.1).
• A comparison of the PhD programs and the situation of postdocs resulted in formulation of the Moldau/Vltava PhD and Postdoc fellowship program. The conditions for facility exchange were also defined (D4.2).
• Administration at IMG and MPI-CBG was compared. ARIB will reinforce IMG administration by funding multiple administrative positions (D4.3).
• The incubator will provide open access to academic/industrial partners interested to fund or host a junior group with ARIB conditions and measures of excellence (D4.4).
• The recruitment procedure and rules were defined (D4.5).

The main goal of the WP5 was to prepare a Business plan (D5.3 and D5.4). An extended SWOT analysis was performed (D5.1). The budget for Phase II, using the two funding sources (H2020 Teaming and the MEYS OP VVV Teaming II) was proposed. In addition, the project transformation strategy and long-term sustainability was developed (D5.2).

The Teaming Phase 1 project prepared the ground for the foundation of the ARIB incubator. ARIB will create conditions for attracting junior research talent to Prague and Central Bohemia by offering the opportunity to establish junior research groups supported by internationally competitive start-up package. The science of the newly established groups will focus on the emerging area of mammalian tissues self-organization summarised by a research mission “From tissues to organs: understanding and re-engineering”. This research agenda leverages existing scientific and infrastructural strengths of the project partners. The cooperation between the partners will also support the education of junior scientists, establishes exchange programs between scientific services and sets up channels for transferring the excellence of the advanced partner in the areas of career development, administration, technology transfer, internationalization and public outreach. The ARIB activities will be connected to the nascent STAR technology cluster in Central Bohemia, providing innovation friendly environment for transfer of research results to socio-economic benefits. ARIB will build a scientific bridge between IMG and MPI-CBG, between Dresden and Prague and between MPG and CAS that will serve as a lighthouse of scientific excellence impacting the entire Czech Research Area with ambitions to reach European significance.
1) The transformation of the Czech scientific environment through introducing attractive conditions for junior research group leaders, nurturing them to achieve their integration into Czech research community as independent leaders and further widening the quality started at ARIB.
2) By bringing in a critical mass of research groups focusing on 3D cell culture research and keeping the scientific direction towards understanding organ formation, ARIB will contribute to solving the ambitious task towards the creation of artificial organs and their efficient repair in the human body.

Socio-economic impact of the project:
• ARIB project will attract top-level international researchers to establish independent laboratories in the Czech Republic and nurture them towards full and long-term scientific independence in the Czech Research Area. This will be seeding additional expansion of excellent international teams and increase thus opportunity to improve the research output in the Czech Republic.
• ARIB will have impact on Czech science in the long-run when ARIB established researchers come back to the country after gaining experience abroad.
• ARIB will generate new jobs following the established career development guidelines of MPI-CBG.
• ARIB will guide researchers on a path from discovery to dissemination and exploitation of research results, including the effective transfer of technologies, for the benefit of the society.
ARIB logo
The schematic representing the two partner institutes of the ARIB project.