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Tampere University gets four Pioneer Innovator grants

Published on 16.12.2020
Tampere University
a bottle of liquid with the text corneal transplant in the hand of a researcher
Researchers at Tampere University have received four Pioneer Innovator grants from the Danish Novo Nordisk Foundation. Professors Tero Järvinen, Heli Skottman and Dario Greco are developing new treatment and research methods at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Technology while professor Esa Räsänen is doing the same at the Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences.

Of the 26 Pioneer Innovator grants, Tampere University received four, which is more than any other university. Twelve universities in different Nordic countries were awarded 1–3 grants each. In this round of applications, Tampere University did better than such strong performers as the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and Aarhus University in Denmark.

“This wide-ranging success in a tough Nordic competition for innovation funding is very exceptional. The result reflects the high quality of research at Tampere University in the field of life sciences and especially our researchers’ desire to turn research results into clinical and commercial applications,” says Juho Väisänen, senior specialist, innovations.

Corneal blindness treatment takes a leap forward

Heli Skottman, professor of cell technology, received a grant for the project ‘Long-term preclinical efficacy and safety for a novel off-the-shelf stem cell therapy for unmet clinical need of corneal blindness’. The study strives to bring the emerging stem cell-based treatments for ocular corneal blindness closer to the clinical trial phase in patients.

“We will reach this goal when we are able to use our research to demonstrate the effectiveness and safety of the treatment in accordance with official requirements,” Skottman says.

Earlier this autumn, the project also received the most innovative start-up in Europe in life sciences award from BIOFIT2020.

New method for interpreting electrocardiograms

Esa Räsänen, professor of physics, received a grant for his project ‘AccuQT - Accurate correction for the most important cardiac risk measure’. The goal is to develop and commercialise a novel method for interpreting electrocardiograms (EKGs) that is far more accurate than previous methods.

Professor of Bioinformatics Dario Greco’s awarded project is called ‘An integrated computational solution for chemical development and safety assessment’. The aim of the study is to develop an integrated approach to the design of medicines and chemicals based on toxicogenomics and computational toxicology.

Professor Tero Järvinen received a grant for a project called ‘Skin-targeted therapeutics for systemic treatment of devastating skin diseases’. The study is investigating a multifunctional recombinant protein with the aim of advancing the drug therapy for the rare epidermolysis bullosa skin disease to clinical trials in patients.

The granted sums range from DKK 500.000 to DKK 1.000.000 equalling €67.000 –€134.000.

Incentive funding for commercialisation and development

The Novo Nordisk Foundation supports research in various fields including life sciences in order to improve the lives of people through better health, education and the development of knowledge-based sustainable society.

The Pioneer Innovator Grant is a stimulus fund established to accelerate the commercialisation of research findings and the development of novel technologies within health sciences.

The grant seeks to support research within life sciences (medical technology, industrial biotechnology and drug development) and to stimulate the evolution of ideas that may lead to the development of new medical therapies, disease prevention, diagnostic methods as well as new health technologies and devices to benefit people and society.