Training and networking

With the global crisis we are facing today with the coronavirus outbreak, we can see the importance of scientists joining forces to fight and work towards a common goal. The first human trial has just started, and it began with the genome of the virus to be available to be studied by others. Sharing science is crucial to move forward, and this is one of our fundamental values in BestTreat. As part of the training programme, every six months we have the opportunity to participate in a training school to expand our knowledge in communication, networking, science and commercialising. In February, the first training school of the year arranged by Afekta where we focused on entrepreneurship; second training was by the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) in collaboration with Clinical-Microbiomics focussing microbiome system and synthetic biology.

The training school started with a course in entrepreneurship led by Outi-Maaria Palo-Oja from the University of Eastern Finland’s Business School. We broadened our understanding of the translation process from research to business by answering the following questions: What are the fundaments, the steps to follow, common mistakes and the different approaches? We were fortunate to hear from Kati Hanhineva, CSO of Afekta, and their journey from research to business. The course continued, by working with different tools used in business development, and finished with a case study about the company 23andme.

The second part of the training school took part in Copenhagen at DTU. Over the course, we looked into the field of microbiome system and synthetic biology. Starting with a lecture from Henrik Bjørn Nielsen, CSO of Clinical-Microbiomics, who gave a talk in microbiome system biology and how Clinical-Microbiomics is applying this in their business. Followed by Morten Sommer, Associate Scientific Director at Center for Biosustainability and Head of Bacterial Synthetic Biology section at DTU, lecturing on microbiome synthetic biology and how his group is applying this discipline in the development of bacterial therapies. The course continued with an assignment aiming offering hands on exercise on either a business plan or a grant proposal. We had the fortune to be guided by Morten Sommer, with several startups on his record, as well with great experience in writing grant proposals, and got valued feedback for future writing.

To roundup, the two weeks of the training school, all involved in the project had the opportunity to meet and discuss our project progress and discuss current and possible collaborations. After one and a half year in the project, we, the ESRs, are enjoying the opportunity to see each other and to meet up with the entire consortium to hear each other’s ideas and to network.
Being member of a researcher network is a great opportunity to find ways of connect our research with that of the others, to innovate, to share tools, knowledge and to offer help. Last but not least, we had our midterm meeting with our EC project officer, Elisa Failla, who showed great satisfaction with us and towards the progression of the work and the team.

To sum these two weeks, it is worth to mention all the fun we had after training classes and meetings. For instance, we had an opportunity to experience the Finnish culture of sauna and winter swimming in Kuopio. Moreover, we enjoyed the hipstery side of Copenhagen. Finally, our final ESR member, Silvia Lopez, has started her project at Chr. Hansen. With a full team and strengthen bonds, we are now ready to move forward on our projects, share our knowledge and perform research towards our goals in NAFLD.

Stay safe and wash your hands!


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