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Research capacity building through improved knowledge exchange and twinning frameworks for the Centre of Excellence in Translational Medicine

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CETM (Research capacity building through improved knowledge exchange and twinning frameworks for the Centre of Excellence in Translational Medicine)

Reporting period: 2017-04-01 to 2018-12-31

The project will enhance Estonian research potential and capacities in translational medicine with particular focus on immunological diseases and neurological disorders, which represent a challenging burden on individuals and healthcare systems worldwide. Strategic partnership with UCL and KI - both international leaders in medical research and education, enables developing long-lasting knowledge exchange framework for allowing University of Tartu (UT) to capitalise on its current achievements and deliver a new internationally-leading European Centre of Translational Medicine (CETM).

The specific objectives of the project are to:
1. measurably and significantly enhance the overall scientific R&I capacity of UT and Estonia in the field of
translational medicine
2. raise the research profile of academic staff
3. strengthen UT ́s networking capacity, visibility and credibility
In order to achieve these objectives, the twinning activities with UCL and KI will:
- create a strategic framework for sustainable development (long-term development plan, links with
industrial partners, public funding and investment strategy, IPR strategy)
- enhance UT ́s research capacity in 6 key areas/techniques (6 joint summer schools/seminars, 11 medium-
term visits, 38 short bidirectional visits, participation in conferences)
- develop transferable skills of UT ́s research staff (training seminars in networking/H2020 participating,
IPR, research commercialisation, ethics, communication skills and doctoral training)
- extend UT ́s strategic partnerships and visibility among the professional community, industry, policy- makers and public (strategic networking, dissemination and public communication to targeted

As the expected result of the CETM-TWIN project, the twinning activities between the consortium will lead to research improving synergy that supports building one of the leading translational medicine competency centres in the North-Eastern European region by 2020.
Under Work package 1 (Sustainability and strategic development) we have:
- prepared the Strategic Plan summarising our research priorities and key topics, management, infrastructure, funding issues,
- prepared the market overview that includes the list of potential industrial partners,
- prepared the general Public Funding and Investment Strategy identifying and summarizing potential funding sources,
- prepared the IPR strategy summarising the respective background information.

Under Work package 2 (Increasing UT´s research and innovation capacity in Translational Medicine) we have:
- held 9 workshops,
- performed 35 short visits among the Twinning partners,
- made 13 medium-term visits to partnering Universities,
- participated in 70 leading conferences and symposiums,
- organised number of internal seminars and established a new research group in neuroimmunology.

Under Work package 3 (Soft skills capacity building) we have organised:
- IPR training event,
- Research Commercialisation training,
- Communication training
- Research methodology, ethics and responsible research training
- Grant writing training
- prepared new targeted courses for our innovative doctoral training.

Under Work package 4 (Dissemination and outreach) we have:
- prepared the dissemination and communication strategy
- prepared the promotional tools and materials, published/participated 30 popular science articles/media activities,
- published 146 scientific papers,
- organised 6 events with different stakeholders,
- made preparations to hold Research Commercialisation training in October 2017,
- prepared new targeted courses for our innovative doctoral training.

Under WP 5 (Project Management) we have:
- established advisory board,
- organised effectively program management,
- reported our earlier publications.
The Twinning action will lead to the formation of the European Centre of Excellence for Translational Medicine (CETM), which will focus on the immune diseases and brain disorders that are major challenges to the European and global health economies. The Centre, established in Estonia, a low-performing member state in the EU, will hugely benefit from the partnership with UCL and KI, both located in EU high-performing countries. Thus, our CETM proposal addresses the research and innovation gap between the low and high performers and counters the existing fragmentation between EU member states. Specifically, using the strategic partnership with leading European research institutions, UCL and KI, the proposal will enable an extensive transfer of knowledge and experience in the research fields of immunology and neuroscience, and enable the next step towards translational medicine with improved research potential and enhanced human capital. We expect a significant improvement in the overall scientific and innovation performance of our university in translational research and multiple other positive impacts through the collaboration with UCL and KI. This improvement will be seen as an increase in scientific research quality, an alignment with European translational research and the active recruitment of international researchers.

The planned action will substantially and measurably increase the scientific capacity and performance level of medical research in Estonia within the project period and beyond as shown by the indicators, such as raised funding, academic and industrial partnerships, research outputs, innovation performance, enhanced strategy, values and attitudes towards research and innovation. A strong emphasis on long-term collaboration, training, critical mass in complementary disciplines, and the establishment of independent academic and industrial funding will ensure the long-term success and sustainability of the Centre.