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IRB Barcelona Innovation’s “triple” boost from the Catalan Government



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ACCIÓ awards the Institute’s Innovation Department with the quality seal TECNIO and two VALUNI grants for technology transfer projects

This year, IRB Barcelona’s Innovation Department has been supported on three separate occasions by ACCIÓ (the Catalan government’s public agency in charge of promoting company competitiveness) by providing it with two grants to develop technology transfer projects, as well as with the quality seal TECNIO. This three-fold support reinforces and consolidates IRB Barcelona’s technology transfer activities, and proves that “we are on the right path, going in the right direction”, states Cristina Horcajada, Head of the Innovation Department.

A test for colon cancer and a technology for brain-targeted therapies

ACCIÓ has awarded IRB Barcelona with two one-year VALUNI grants, which are addressed to non-profit organisations. These funds will be used to help financing the “Colostage” project (aimed at creating a new spin-off) with 50,000 euros, and the “Gate2Brain” project (aimed at licensing the technology for third parties) with 14,500 euros.

The “Colostage” project, headed by scientists Elena Sancho and Eduard Batlle, is the result of the research carried out in the Colorectal Cancer Laboratory. The aim of “Colostage” is to set up a company to commercialise a diagnostic test aimed at helping oncologists to select those colon cancer patients with a higher risk of developing metastasis, and therefore to choose their treatments more accurately.

“The VALUNI grant will allow us to cover the process of setting-up the company, as well as to find investors in world-wide congresses and fairs”, explains Delia Zafra, who is managing this project in the Innovation Department.

The “Gate2Brain” technology arose from the research carried out by scientists Meritxell Teixidó and Ernest Giralt, in the Peptides and Proteins Laboratory at IRB Barcelona. The VALUNI funds will contribute to perform commercialization actions to license the technology to a pharmaceutical or biotechnology company that will apply the technology to its products and take it to market.

The “Gate2Brain” technology will be helpful for those drugs that are potentially effective in treating brain diseases, but that are not able to cross its protective barrier ─ the so-called blood-brain barrier. Tiago Botelho, who is managing this project in the Innovation Department explains “Gate2Brain is ready for out-licensing in 2017 and thanks to ACCIÓ’s support, we can promote the project to potential licensors, in different international meetings.”


The Technology Transfer Unit at IRB Barcelona has been awarded ­also from ACCIÓ the TECNIO seal, which recognises the unit as a competitive agent in Catalonia’s innovation system. This seal has an initial duration of three years (until 31/12/2019) and includes assessment, international cooperation, prioritisation in ACCIÓ’s grants, and dissemination of the innovation unit and available technologies. “The TECNIO seal is a quality brand that will help make us more visible in the innovation ecosystem both in Catalonia and abroad”, says Alba Olivares, member of the Innovation Department.

The Innovation Department, formed by four members, manages projects that include company creation, technology licensing, and public-private collaborations in applied biomedical research projects. “In recent years, we have been developing the tools to internally detect research results with transfer potential. Now it’s time to enhance the dissemination of these technologies in order to reach potential investors and compatible pharmaceutical and biotechnological companies more easily. The VALUNI grants and the TECNIO seal will help us achieve these objectives”, concludes Cristina Horcajada.

About IRB Barcelona
Created in 2005 by the Generalitat de Catalunya (Government of Catalonia) and University of Barcelona, IRB Barcelona is a Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence, a seal that was awarded in 2011. The institute is devoted to conducting research of excellence in biomedicine and to transferring results to clinical practice, thus improving people’s quality of life, while simultaneously promoting the training of outstanding researchers, technology transfer, and public communication of science. Its 23 laboratories and seven core facilities address basic questions in biology and are orientated to diseases such as cancer, metastasis, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and rare conditions. IRB Barcelona is an international centre that hosts more than 400 employees and 36 nationalities. It is located in the Barcelona Science Park. IRB Barcelona forms part of the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST) and the “Xarxa de Centres de Recerca de Catalunya” (CERCA).

About IRB Barcelona

The Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) pursues a society free of disease. To this end, it conducts multidisciplinary research of excellence to cure cancer and other diseases linked to ageing. It establishes technology transfer agreements with the pharmaceutical industry and major hospitals to bring research results closer to society, and organises a range of science outreach activities to engage the public in an open dialogue. IRB Barcelona is an international centre that hosts 400 researchers and more than 30 nationalities. Recognised as a Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence since 2011, IRB Barcelona is a CERCA centre and member of the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST).