New project to bridge gaps between sides of knowledge triangle

Bridging the gaps between the three sides of the knowledge triangle (research, education and innovation) is the goal of the EU-funded BRIDGE (‘Bridging biomaterials research excellence between
industry and academia across Europe’) project, which is just getting underway.

Over the next two years, the project partners will design, implement and test models for collaboration between the different actors involved in research, education and innovation, such as
universities, research organisations, large companies, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and innovation centres.

The resulting pilot network will provide important information on the efficient function of such projects to those involved in similar initiatives, such as the Knowledge and Innovation
Communities (KICs) which will be set up under the European Institute of Technology (EIT), as well as Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs).

The two year project is set to receive around ?1.3 million in funding from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Education and Culture, which launched a call for proposals for pilot
projects for cooperation between European Institutes of Technology in mid-2007.

The project is coordinated by Sweden’s Uppsala University. ‘It’s fantastic to get this opportunity,’ said project coordinator HÃ¥kan Engqvist. The
project’s other partners, who are based in Germany, Portugal, the UK, Hungary and the Netherlands, include all the relevant players in the technology transfer process.

The partners will have to resolve some tricky questions to make their pilot network a success. Can the network be a legal entity and can it co-own innovations? If a university works with a
company, what does that mean for access to infrastructures, and how can the freedom of the researchers be guaranteed?

The question of patents and intellectual property is huge. As Professor Engqvist explained to CORDIS News, in Sweden researchers own their own results, but this is not the case in many other
countries. How can this be resolved?

The field at the focus of the project is nanomedicine, with a particular focus on regenerative medicine. ‘This is a hot research field,’ explained Professor Engqvist. ‘A few years ago
biomaterials were used to repair damage to bodily organs, but today it’s all about regenerating – growing back the organ on site in the body.’ The precise direction of the research to be
carried out will be decided within the framework of the project.

Uppsala University is well placed to lead the project. It recently set up a new unit called Uppsala University Innovation, which has been given the task of strengthening the university’s
innovation capacities. Internally, it works with researchers to teach them about intellectual property issues and business development. It also invites companies to enter into agreements with
the university, and the unit has set up different levels of partnership to make this process easier.

‘This is yet another step in our efforts to link Uppsala University’s materials research to industry,’ commented Lars Jonsson, Director of Uppsala University Innovation. ‘This is proof that we
are on the right path, and it establishes a valuable international network.’

Meanwhile for Professor Engqvist the two year project is just the first step of a wider plan to establish a long-lasting network in the field of regenerative medicine. ‘I hope we will show that
this network has the possibility to survive and grow,’ he told CORDIS News.

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