- Date: April 11, 2019
In 2018, CaixaImpulse took on 20 innovative biomedical projects and equipped them with an arsenal of highly specialised tools, training, contacts and financial assistance to help them take the leap from the lab to the biotech market.
We caught up with the leaders of two of the projects selected in CaixaImpulse 2018 - Fabíola Costa, who leads the project AntiBioCoat, and Alicia Mansilla, leader of Synapse modulators - who shared with us their most valuable experiences from the programme, and their tips for the next cohort of selected projects, which are to be announced in June.
Fabíola Costa, AntiBioCoat
Fabíola, a researcher from the Instituto Nacional de Engenharia Biomedica, leads AntiBioCoat. This innovation is based on a naturally produced polymer that attributes anti-adhesive properties to the surfaces of medical devices, preventing the first step of infection establishment. Fabíola and her team are currently focusing on developing this technology in urinary catheters, as these are the medical devices which cause the highest rate of infection.
On her experience during CaixaImpulse 2018, Fabíola says that “CaixaImpulse has a very strong training programme to empower scientists with skills and knowledge in different important areas, such as intellectual property, regulatory issues, technology transfer, communication and business. You gain access to experts in the specific areas you need support with, to move forward with your project. These are very experienced but also very approachable people, with a network of contacts that can help you. And the cherry on the cake is the mentors attributed to each project.” For her, the highlight of the programme was the valuable input of experts and mentors, in clarifying and settling the key milestones for the successful development of the project.
Her advice for CaixaImpulse 2019 participants is to “go with an open mind, and enjoy the ride. You will be amazed with the generosity and knowledge of the people you meet during the program.”
Alicia Mansilla, Synapse modulators
Alicia Mansilla from the Fundación para la Investigación Biomédica del Hospital Universitario Ramón y Cajal, leads the project Synapse modulators. Alicia and her team have developed two families of compounds that target imbalances in the neuronal synapses. Such imbalances are known to play a role in the development of autism spectrum disorder and dementia, so this innovation could represent a new line of treatment for these pathologies in the future. They are currently conducting pharmacokinetic, safety and efficiency tests in mouse disease models.
“CaixaImpulse is a change of the whole paradigm. It marks a before and after in the project and in the mentality of the researchers. It finds the potential in projects that may not fit in other calls and helps you get the most out of it. If you ever dreamed that your idea could have a real application, CaixaImpulse can teach you how to make it happen,” says Alicia, after a few months in the programme. “CaixaImpulse has taught us to design experiments in such a way that we not only generate scientific knowledge, but we get as close as possible to transferring the technology to society,” adds Alicia.
When asked to give advice to the next cohort, she also suggested going in with an open mind. “You need to be prepared to learn a new language,” says Alicia. “It is about knowing the reality of technology transfer, with the best professionals, the best mentoring and the possibility of taking your project and all your research to the next level,” she explains.
More programme highlights
March 28, 2019
11 of the 15 projects from CaixaImpulse 2015 have moved forward and are now at various stages in their development.
March 21, 2019
Rafael Mañez, the leader of a 2016 CaixaImpulse selected project, updates us on its progress.
March 19, 2019
Applications have officially closed for the fifth edition of the CaixaImpulse call.