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Unleash IMM’s research excellence in immunity and infection through twinning to infect Lisbon and Portugal with its increase in competitiveness and innovation

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - TwinnToInfect (Unleash IMM’s research excellence in immunity and infection through twinning to infect Lisbon and Portugal with its increase in competitiveness and innovation)

Reporting period: 2016-01-01 to 2017-03-31

TwinnToInfect represents the opportunity to integrate the European circle of research excellence institutions by cementing a sustainable science, technology and innovation network through two internationally-leading organisations in the immunity and infection area of research, the Institut Pasteur and the Francis Crick Institute. Based on science and innovation driven clustering of Instituto de Medicina Molecular (iMM), the Institut Pasteur and the Francis Crick Institute will allow:
1) Strengthening the science and technology capacity of iMM in immunity and infection research field;
2) Leveraging the research excellence and value creation through innovation with a beneficial impact for iMM as a whole, Lisbon and Portugal.

TwinnToInfect scientific strategy will contribute to the development of immunity and infection research, focused on lymphoid development and homeostasis, how the immune system deals with infection and on the deregulated host-pathogen interaction, and consequent life-threatening infections and inflammatory disorders. iMM will effectively contribute to research excellence and value creation in health at both National and European level by establishing new collaborations within the consortium and the business community in order to boost research achievements.
Our main achievement and milestone during the 1st reporting period was the definition of the KPI and the successful launch of Staff Exchanges, Expert visits, Travel Awards and Mentoring Activities. The project has been experiencing iMM-wide visibility and community interest through new applications submitted each month, promoting the development of networks and collaborations amongst research groups of the consortium.
The Project Management portion includes:
1. A widening Key Performance Indicator (KPI) – Scientific publications in the field of immunity and infection for a period of three years prior to the start of the project.
2. Definition of procedures and standards for project execution were set and revised during the TwinnToInfect kick-off meeting as well as on the first Project Meeting. Roles and responsibilities were defined for each team member to ensure a smooth implementation and the successful execution.

3. Staff Exchanges - The first staff exchanges activities started on July 2016. TwinnToInfect has already conducted 7 Staff Exchanges and 5 Travel Awards during the first report period of the project's implementation. We envision 5 more Staff Exchanges throughout June 2017.
4. Mentoring and training of young researchers and of support/structural teams - The following activities have been implemented:
• TwinnToInfect Seminars Series with Renowned experts in immunity and infection research field. More details at: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1OMY6vs546YToHlMtO-yxNpEKvcE2dX_j3zobU0u-TIs/edit?usp=sharing
• Grant Office Workshop, held in Lisbon on May 18th-19th, 2017. A mentoring and guidance plan for the professionalization of the iMM Funding Office was presented and will be further developed.
• The Tech Transfer Event to be held in Lisbon on October, 16th-17th, 2017, with the participation of the Tech Transfer Offices, IP and IP Licensing departments from both Institutes Pasteur, Crick as well as iMM. This event will be organized with a leading institution specialized in education and promotion of transferrable technologies in Portugal.

5. The strategy and action plan to position iMM in the business community is currently being developed among the members of the Management Team. One of our goals is to reach out to the business sector leveraging the existing iMM relations and taking full advantage of the TwinnToInfect network with Pasteur and Crick to enhance iMM integration into the business community at a regional, national and European level. The Tech transfer event planned for October this year will take a vital role in order to promote ideas, projects and technologies in order to boost iMM’s capacity to engage business stakeholders.
6. Communication and Dissemination - Entailed the development of a logo, a dedicted website page, two press releases, a general project brochure and two newsletters, as well as dissemination at events and meetings. Future dissemination actions will leverage these developed tools plus daily or weekly journals, magazines, newspapers and social media.
7. Ethics - The activities to be implemented, susceptible of having associated ethical issues, are the ones to be developed in scientific or technical staff-exchanges, therefore, specific scientific activity plans for each staff exchange are previously defined. Consequently, given that identification of, and respective compliance with, eventual ethical issues involved in each individual staff exchange is intrinsically connected with the design of the activity plan for that staff exchange, and the ethics assessment process for each individual exchange is also required to be carried out closer to the actual timing of the visit.
At IMM: By increasing research excellence; improving its technical resources both at human and equipment knowledge; increasing rate of international competitive funds, including a strategy to achieve excellence in human resources and specific training activities such as mentoring and staff exchange activities.
At the Regional level: By potentiating the economic and social development of the Lisbon region, through a closer collaboration with the business, to get them interested in organising a “immunity and infection” activities such as summer schools, Tech transfer events, where Group Leaders and Industry scientists would perform a short presentation on their research, interests, methods, equipment available, human capital, employment and entrepreneurship.
·At the National level: Through the Staff Exchanges, travel awards, experts visit from Institute Pasteur and Institute Crick that add the international visibility and research excellence of the whole country and potentiate the competitiveness of the national research.
At the European level: By expanding collaborations amongst groups between iMM Lisboa, Institut Pasteur and Crick Institute that will contribute to research excellence and value creation in health at National and European level. As such, it is expected greater impacts by bringing closer the Industrial stakeholders, institutions and researchers, thus, improving the opportunity to achieve more beneficial results in society, whether in health of economics.
Population aging in Europe is one of current biggest health related challenges where immunity and infection is at the centre of many age-related disorders such as an increased risk of infection to several pathogens, reduced responsiveness to vaccination, diabetes and metabolic syndromes. Sharing experiences, knowledge and project outcomes, will allow to accelerate the process of finding new ways to diagnose and treat patients, ensuring and extending quality of life. TwinnToInfect is in a unique position to provide Europe with the knowledge exchange that can benefit researchers by boosting project results.
TwinnToInfect intends to fulfil the country-specific recommendations recently issued by the European Commission in order to effectively contribute to the improvement of the research and innovation performance in Portugal. TwinnToInfect aims to promote synergies within projects from institutions, encourage initiatives and networks, all under the same research focus.
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