Skip to main content

Life Science Alliance: Closing Research and Innovation Divide in the EU

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Alliance4Life (Life Science Alliance: Closing Research and Innovation Divide in the EU)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2019-12-31

Alliance4Life is a bottom-up initiative of 10 leading life science institutions from nine EU-13 countries that aim at closing the divide in European health research and innovation. Members of the Alliance are progressive research institutions that have the necessary strength to stimulate institutional change. Large-scale ESIF investments into the life science infrastructure alone could not close the R&I gap in Europe so far. Financial support needs to be complemented by measures on research and innovation strategies at institutional and national levels. Institutions gathered in this Alliance believe that improving governance and managerial practices as well as transforming institutional culture will enhance efficiency and increase return on investment. Alliance members joined forces and share good practice through a Horizon2020 supported collaboration. The partnership focuses on raising institutional profiles to attract and retain international talent, and to provide the right operational framework conditions including improved research management. Moreover, the goal is to overcome traditional national conditions inherited from the communist era that were neglected during the political transformation in the CEE region. Alliance4Life intends to become a role model for institutions in less-performing regions and to serve as a hub of excellence through close collaboration with renowned European networks established in high performing countries. On 4th October 2019, the founding members of the Alliance4Life signed the Memorandum of Understanding, which formalizes the alliance as a permanent structure. The signing of the memorandum is the crown jewel of Alliance4Life´s achievements during the past two years of its existence. It symbolizes the partners’ commitment to make this alliance a long-lasting one, for the benefit of the members and the whole region. The formal existence of the Alliance4Life is in line with the current shift of the EU research policy towards a more sensitive approach to research and innovation needs of the Central and Eastern European countries. Alliance4Life represents the first-ever bottom-up action aimed at closing the health research and innovation divide initiated by the low performing countries themselves, it intends to become a role model for institutions in less performing regions and to serve as a hub of excellence, inspiring others.

Coordinator: Masaryk University (MU)
Partners: Uniwersytet Lódzki (PL); University of Zagreb (HR); Tartu Ülikool (EE); University of Ljubljana (SI); St. Anne's University Hospital Brno (CZ); Slovak Academy of Sciences (SK); Vilnius University (LT); Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis (LV); Semmelweis University (HU)
During the first project period, the Alliance4Life consortium focused on the main project aim, which is a contribution to closing the health research & innovation divide in the EU. Following the kick-off meeting held in Brno in January, the release of the Alliance4Life official Declaration, and the successful introduction of the initiative in Brussels, the Alliance4Life productively embarked on the implementation of the work plan. The main tasks for the first year of project implementation included the assessment of research and innovation performance of Alliance4Life member institutions, benchmarking against advanced European partners and identification of institutional best practices. The aim of the benchmarking exercise was not to compete internally but to inspire and help each other. The Assessment Report presents the current situation in ten Alliance4Life institutions and comparison with selected EU advanced research institutions. The second key task was to identify, describe and share best practices as both joint and unique factors that lead to success, as well as peculiarities that need to be addressed. Adopting these best practices would increase health research excellence and innovation capacity at both the institutional and national levels. The identified best practices were compiled into another public deliverable, Inventory of Best Practice, to be integrated into the Alliance4Life strategies and to allow for their dissemination to national R&I communities and policymakers. Moreover, during the first year of the project duration, the first policy communication of Alliance4Life, a position paper on the European Commission´s proposal of Horizon Europe was released. The second year of the project implementation covered two community meetings held in Jurmala and Vilnius and delivered several important results. The first one was the White paper containing recommendations from Inventory of best practices, the aim of which was to propose a set of key recommendations to national and European policymakers, in order to speed-up closing the gap and enhancing European R&I as a whole. The White paper with a graphical summary was made publicly accessible on the project website. The second key task was to create and update of Alliance4Life strategies based on existing synergies and know-how sharing that will reinforce the research and innovation capacities of Alliance4Life institutions, enhance their development and increase their competitiveness. The created strategies were compiled into another deliverable, Report on development of Alliance4Life members’ strategies, to be used for the implementation of transformative institutional changes. Moreover, during the second year of the project implementation. All Alliance4Life partners´ institutions organised national round tables gathered more than 400 representatives of respective ministries, research councils, universities. industry and other health research related offices and institutions in all nine countries of Alliance4Life members. These events served as an excellent tool to raise awareness on the Alliance4life mission and current achievements, to create a spill-over effect on each national research policy scene and to influence the main national stakeholders and decision-makers who are responsible for institutional governance and national research policies in the participating countries. Conclusions and recommendations from national roundtables were disseminated among participants, via press releases and final public deliverable Round table reports. At the final stage, the founding members of the Alliance4Life signed the Memorandum of Understanding and formalized the alliance as a permanent structure.
Alliance4Life created dynamic and open platform of experts from involved institutions allowing them to learn from each other and work together towards adoption of profound institutional transformative changes such as sharing the best practices in implementation and operation of the „core facilities“ concept, the methodology of financing and evaluating the efficiency of utilization, benefits for users and institutions, as well as barriers which they had to overcome throughout the process. Experiences of the institutions that are implementing the „core facilities“ concept are a very valuable inspiration and motivation for other institutions to start this process and thus ensure the best possible sustainability of existing infrastructure under given conditions. Thanks to Alliance4Life members institutions established valuable communication channels in order to share best practices and establish and deepen cooperation with other consortiums such as EU-LIFE, CELSA, CTLS, LERU, The Guild, ASTP or ELIXIR.
Project Logo