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  • Periodic Reporting for period 1 - THE DISCOVERIES CTR (Development of a Business Plan for establishment of The Discoveries Centre for Regenerative and Precision Medicine, a new Centre of Excellence in Portugal)


Project ID: 664559
Funded under: H2020-EU.4.a.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - THE DISCOVERIES CTR (Development of a Business Plan for establishment of The Discoveries Centre for Regenerative and Precision Medicine, a new Centre of Excellence in Portugal)

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

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Regenerative and precision medicines are emerging medical research fields that may provide novel treatments for a number of diseases, including musculoskeletal and neurodegenerative disorders. These disorders affect millions of people in all age groups throughout Europe and in other parts of the world and as such developing effective treatments that are able to reduce or combat their negative impacts are part of Portuguese national and regional strategies, as well as are of European importance. The areas of life and health sciences and of technology applied to health sciences are among the most productive areas in the Portuguese science landscape in terms of number of papers (and numbers of papers per FTE), their impact factors and number of citations. Concerning the areas of regenerative medicine, tissue engineering, biomaterials and applied stem cell research, Portugal´s publication record is notable. The Portuguese research institutions involved in the project have a significant track record of research activities and outputs in areas belonging to regenerative and precision medicine.
Nevertheless, there are a series of hurdles that are common to all of these institutions. First of all, the translation of the scientific developments to clinical practice is at very low levels. In the domains of regenerative and precision medicine if the transformation of scientific developments into clinical applications is not guaranteed, the economic and social benefits from the scientific investment are also compromised. The Portuguese institutions lack an organizational structure that is: 1) able to help the researchers to better focus their research and to give it a more applied perspective; and 2) able to act in the different steps of the translation of science into clinical practice and industrial applications. Another common hurdle in the Portuguese institutions is that most of them focus on specific aspects of the regenerative and precision medicine theme. It is clear that the research perspectives and approaches are complementary and a stronger interaction between the different research teams is beneficial. Finally, there is also a need to exploit the complementarities between the infrastructure and equipment (which are of excellent level) available at these institutions to boost their scientific outputs. These factors have driven the conception of the multi-campi Discoveries Centre on Regenerative and Precision Medicine.

Specific research activities and research staff of the current Portuguese founding institutions will be transferred and structured into the new Centre. This transfer enables a structuring effect on the Portuguese science in these relevant domains creating a critical mass and research excellence in Portugal integrated into one single autonomous entity. UCL, the UK partner, is also a founding institution and will be a full member of the Centre - with one of the Centre´s campi located in London. Through UCL´s integration and research of excellence, the visibility of the Centre´s research activities will grow significantly. Furthermore, UCL adds its knowledge in translational research and commercialisation.

The overall objective of the project was to develop an extensive, detailed and robust Business Plan for the new Centre ensuring that the Centre builds on its strengths, leverages R&D opportunities and fosters science of excellence with high visibility, so ensuring self-sustainability in the long-term.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The partnership focused on the elaboration of the elements of the future Centre´s Business Plan. The main results of the project are thus related to these elements. These include the following:

• The Centre´s Strategy – this contains the definition of the vision and mission for the Centre, and its strategic objectives and specific objectives assessed according to short, medium and long-term achievements.
• The Centre´s Operational Structure – this defines the different structures for the Centre’s day-to-day operations. The legal framework, its management, organisational, decision-making structures, as well as its human and physical resources.
• The Centre´s Activities – this elaborates on the five fundamental activities that form the core of the Centre: Fundamental, pre-clinical and translational research; Education and Training (also the Centre’s Education and Training Strategy, PhD Programme with translation and go-to market skills, Post-doctoral Advanced Training, Clinical Training and Non-formal education); Service and Consulting (including elaboration of the Centre’s Services and Consulting Strategy, establishment of client oriented services as well as consulting); IP and Commercialisation and Communication and Marketing elaborating approaches and strategies to reach stakeholders.
• Risks and Associated Strategies – this analyses the main risks that might hinder the effective and efficient implementation of the Centre’s activities.
• The Centre´s Financial Plan – this focuses on all the financial aspects related to the Centre’s implementation, including financial sustainability plans for the first 10 years of its operation.
• The Centre´s Installation and Implementation Strategy – this contains a detailed plan of actions that are necessary for the installation and implementation of the institution.

The main result of the project (Business Plan) is to be exploited in the Phase 2 Teaming project, serving as a basis for the installation and implementation of the Centre.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The Phase 1 project laid the foundations for the establishment of The Discoveries Centre by developing a Business Plan for its implementation. The Centre will have a positive impact on Portuguese science and technology and increase Portuguese scientific capabilities in a number of ways. The establishment of the new institution will have a structuring effect on Portuguese science related to regenerative and precision medicine, helping the involved institutions to better structure and optimise their scientific activities. Also, through the integration of UCL in the institution, researchers working for the Centre will have access to new scientific knowledge both within the domains of the main research lines (joint publications with UCL are planned) and within the domain of translational research.
One of the Centre´s novelties will be its translational philosophy. The conception of the Centre will be thus driven by this vision and its organisation, activities and external relations will be established and executed under this view. This is an important aspect when the Centre´s contribution to economic development is assessed. This culture will promote the transformation of observations in the laboratory into interventions that improve health at the diagnostic and therapeutic levels (one step further towards the market), and will enhance the commercialisation of the Centre intellectual property (rapid market uptake). The implementation of this policy will start at the point of generating research ideas and so research activities of the new Centre will be formatted towards solving current and future needs of the “market and patients”. This will positively contribute to strengthening (by enlarging their portfolio of competitive products) and augmenting the national biomedical sector (by contributing to the creation of new companies) as well as increasing the export capacity of business stakeholders of this market (by enlarging their portfolio of products that are competitive in international markets). Additionally, it is expected that the Centre will positively contribute to the improvement of the research and innovation culture of the country, enabling the country to reach a better performance.

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