Masaryk University has been very successful in the first phase of the Teaming action, which supports expansion of the current research centres of excellences or construction of new ones as a part of the Horizon 2020 programme. MU succeeded with two projects as a coordinator and is also a partner in a third project awarded to the Brno University of Technology.
“This is a great achievement. Phase 1 of the action means that successful applicants have a year to develop a detailed business plan for their project,” says Roman Badík, head of the MU Research & Development Office. “If they are successful in the second phase as well, they will receive more funding to implement the project.” In the first phase, every project can receive up to 400,000 euro.
One of the awarded projects is CETOCOEN Excellence, which is a project of the Research Centre for Toxic Compounds in the Environment at the Faculty of Science, MU (Recetox).
“The aim of the project is to build a sustainable and international platform to support research examining the impact of various factors on human health and ageing, minimise the burden of chronic diseases (including the related costs), and improve health and quality of life,” says Jana Klánová, the project leader and the head of Recetox.
Partners of this project include University College London, which regularly ranks in the top ten of the QS World University Ranking, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich or ETH, currently the third best university in the world in science and technology, the European biobank consortium BBMRI and the International Clinical Research Center (ICRC) at St. Anne’s University Hospital, Brno.
The second project coordinated by Masaryk University is called Passage and is led by the MU research institute CEITEC. It will focus on building unique capacity in synthetic biology, a new and quickly developing scientific discipline that uses the latest knowledge in biology to create new properties in living organisms for medical and biotechnological applications. The results of the project would be applicable primarily in the modernization of agriculture and its adaptation to environmental changes, but also in medicine and the production of biomaterials.
This project cooperates with the Flemish VIB institute based in Ghent, Belgium, the world leader in plant biology. Both CEITEC MU and VIB are members of EU-Life, a European alliance of the best life sciences research institutes, and Passage is the first and only Teaming project among the members of this respected alliance, which brings together thirteen institutions from all over the EU.
This project will also draw on the highly successful model of VIB Ghent and their experience in creating the conditions to effectively transfer basic plant biology research results to specific applications and commercial use. This should lead to a significant increase in cooperation with the application sector and have a direct positive impact on the biotechnology sector in the Czech Republic.
Masaryk University is also a partner in the Back4Future project managed by the Brno University of Technology.
Altogether, there were 208 applications for funding and only thirty of these were successful, with six awarded to the Czech Republic – three to Prague and three to Brno.
“Personally, I see this as a great success of Czech science,” says Klánová. She adds, “It is also proof that the money received from EU operational programmes has been well invested and attracts more European funds, as the majority of successful Czech projects are a continuation of these previous investments.”