Karolinska Institutet’s innovation model opens the Connection Day

CERCA organizes the Connection Day opening conference with Johan Weigelt, CEO of Karolinska Institutet Innovations AB

Johan Weigelt conference organized by CERCA opened the second edition of the Connection Day, an initiative by Catalonia Bio to connecting and gathering within the health sector.

Although the CERCA agora is a closed meeting, this edition was accessible to all the sector so Weigelt, CEO of Karolinska Institutet Innovations AB, could introduce the Karolinska innovation model.

Weigelt talked about the close relationship among academia, healthcare, and industry and underlined the specificities of the Swedish system as the so-called ‘professors privilege’, which means that intellectual properties are owned by professors and investigators. “This system has pros and cons, but it works”.

Good research and contacts

The presentation also focused on the company that supports the Karolinska Institutet in terms of innovation. The Karolinska Institutet Innovations AB holding company sells services to promoting the commercialization of research and developing start-ups in a three-phase program (idea promotion, consolidation and maturation, in a final incubator phase that lasts three years). For Weigelt, its strength lies in “having a very strong research base and a good network of industrial experts and business coaches”.

CERCA also arranged one-to-one meetings with the representative of Karolinska and the presence at ConnectionDay24 allowed the connection with agents of the sector and centres from the CERCA system.

Plan to promote innovation in Social Sciences and Humanities: a visit to Leiden University

The programme is aimed at the seven CERCA centres in this area and proposes to identify challenges and good international practices that promote innovation in our environment.

On February 26 and 27th, a group of research staff and transfer managers from the seven CERCA centres for Social Sciences and Humanities (CED, CREI, IBEI, ICAC, IPHES, ICRPC and ICP) visited Leiden University in Netherlands.

The objective of the visit was to personally interview Dr. Jessica Meijer, head of innovation and business development at LURIS, the transfer unit of Leiden University. Dr. Meijer had worked with the managers of CERCA centres previously to prepare an action plan to be included in their strategic agenda, so they work on transfer of innovation and impact of their research towards society.

During the trip, the participants learned about the operation of the “Digital Scholarship”, which specializes in the application of digital technologies in the academic and research world.

The “Digital Humanities Lab” was also presented. It is a platform that offers advanced equipment and specialized staff to meet the demands of research staff and students.

The plan to boost innovation in the social sciences and humanities is part of the CERCA programme on transfer of knowledge started in 2024 with funding from the General Directorate of Transfer and Knowledge Society.

CERCA Institute presents the 2021 Pioneer Awards

Graphene material for retinal implants, muscle fibre 3D printing, low-cost biosensors for disease detection, advances in the recording of neuronal activity, a new method for modelling faces and biotechnology applied to personalised medicine were the projects awarded in the eighth such awards.

The Pioneer Awards recognise recent PhD graduates who have aimed their research towards industrial or commercial results.

Today the CERCA Institute held the 2021 Pioneer Awards ceremony with the participation of winners, institutions and partner companies. Luis Rovira, director of the Institute, highlighted the quality of the work presented and the real interest shown by several companies, including negotiating a patent.

The winners of the 8th Pioneer Awards are:

Dr Damià Viana Casals for the thesis “EGNITE: Engineered Graphene for Neural Interface”
The Jury considered that the thesis, which describes a microelectrode technology based on EGNITE, a porous graphene material that provides a stable and high-performance bidirectional neural interface, has optimal applications in neural therapy, among other fields, a high impact potential and a technological readiness level (TRL) that is very close to market.

Dr Rafael Mestre Castillo for the thesis “Hybrid bio-robotics: from the nanoscale to the macroscale”
The Jury considered that the thesis, on the development and application of muscle tissue-based bioactuators and biorobots and the improvement of their manufacture using 3D printing technologies, could have a major impact on several sectors and applications.

Dr Patricia Ramírez Priego for the thesis “Low-cost point-of-care biosensor device for clinical diagnosis in developing countries”
The Jury considered that the thesis, which has fully developed an innovative portable biosensor for the rapid diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB) directly in urine samples, could have a major social impact, especially in developing countries, and a clear commercial opportunity.

Dr Eduard Masvidal Codina for the thesis “Graphene microtransistors: in wide-bandwidth technology for recording brain field potentials”
The Jury considered that the thesis, which develops flexible neural interfaces based on graphene transistors (gSGFETs) and studies their use for recording neural activity, comparing them with current cutting-edge technologies, demonstrates an implementation of the technology with a major impact on its area of application.

Dr Gemma Rotger Moll for the thesis “Lifelike Humans: Detailed Reconstruction of Expressive Human Faces”
The Jury considered that the thesis, which develops new techniques to achieve the automatic creation of detailed and realistic synthetic character faces (CGI) using low-cost setups, has a direct application for the current and future world of entertainment.

Dr Ariadna Montero Blay for the thesis “Engineering Mycoplasma species for biotechnological and biomedical applications”
The Jury considered that the thesis, which explores how different mycoplasma species can be exploited biotechnologically or in the field of biomedicine, opens the door to new approaches in the field of personalised medicine.

Each prize is worth 1,000 euros, granted by the CERCA Institute and the participating organisations, which this year were the Mobile World Capital Barcelona The Collider programme, the Catalan Foundation for Research and Innovation (FCRI), the Chamber of Commerce and the Caixa d’Enginyers bank.

The jury was made up of Melba Navarro, technology transfer expert at the International Center for Numerical Methods in Engineering (CIMNE); Nadia Pons, director of the Health Entrepreneurship Program at the Barcelona Medical Association; Núria Martí, director of Innovation at Biocat; Manuel Palacín, director of the Mobile World Capital Barcelona The Collider programme; Julià Manzanas, RBDM Southern Europe with AREOPA Group International and president of the Catalan Association of Economists Knowledge Economy and Innovation Committee; and Joan Sansaloni, head of the Industrial and Intellectual Property unit at ACCIÓ.

You can view a video of the event here.