Alliance4Life consortium with a new project A4L_Bridge

On 18th March 2024, representatives of twelve Alliance4Life member institutions gathered in Brno to kick-off the new EU funded project A4L_BRIDGE. The four-year project will enable the partners to implement 16 work packages focusing on modernisation of careers in research, collaborations among partners and engagement with the industry, policy makers and patient organisations. The action is supported by 4 722 788 EUR from the Horizon Widera 2023 European Excellence Initiative and led by CEITEC Masaryk University. This time, Crowdhelix joined as a new partner to maximize the dissemination and exploitation of the project results. Crowdhelix is open innovation platform that forges links between an international network of excellent researchers and innovating companies so that they can plan, deliver, and exploit pioneering collaborative projects and value chains. 

Despite investments and dedicated schemes, the research and innovation performance of EU-13 countries in Central and Eastern Europe still lags behind their Western counterparts. This challenge stems from underdeveloped ecosystems, brain drain, fragmented collaboration, and limited integration into international networks. Recognising these obstacles, Alliance4Life emerged in 2017 as a strategic alliance of ten progressive life science institutions from nine countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Former director of CEITEC Masaryk University,

Through the first Horizon 2020 funding, Alliance4Life fostered knowledge exchange, shared best practices, and laid the groundwork for a cultural transformation in research universities in the CEE region. In 2021, building on this success, the A4L_ACTIONS project expanded its vision and invited two leading universities from Romania and Bulgaria to join. Together, the twelve member institutes turned previously piloted ideas into concrete actions. Over the next three years, all eleven Widening countries from the CEE region worked together to implement the project goals and to narrow the innovation gap.

Stefan Weiers, Head of Sector for Widening at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Research and Innovation highlighted in his speech that Alliance4Life has become a regional role model, catalysing positive institutional changes in universities and research institutes across Central and Eastern Europe.

Edit Herzog, former Hungarian MEP who currently serves as Senior Advisor at the Science Business Widening Initiative, pointed out that bridging the innovation gap is not about jumping from one cliff end to another, but it can be rather compared to climbing a long steep hill. She encouraged the Alliance4Life members to continue with their actions to show that research institutions from Central and Eastern Europe are valuable members of the European Research Area.

The Coordinator of the Alliance4Life, Ester Jarour, introduced the new A4L_BRIDGE project that will boost the competitiveness and innovation potential of the member institutions. This project will implement further institutional reforms that will lay the foundation for excellent science. Jarour highlighted that Alliance4Life's success is built on its unique ability to transform institutional cultures through open communication and sharing good practices. The partners are willing to share issues and problems and solve them together. The desired progress happens thanks to joint training, networking, and competence building. The voices and opinions of the research institutions from Central and Eastern Europe are heard in Brussels thanks to the collaborative policy papers produced by the Alliance4Life members. 

Alliance4Life is now planning to build upon their success and inspire positive changes beyond the member institutions and boost the translation of the health research results. The members will continue serving as a role model in institutional governance for progressive research institutions and implement further institutional reforms. Their goal is to create a more attractive environment for researchers and continue building competencies of research managers. The new project will enable a foundation of virtual research institute that will promote interactions between scientific communities in the member countries. The virtual research institute will be hosted on a new web platform that will provide shared E-learning and enable matchmaking of mentors and mentees and offer industry internships for doctoral candidates. The new web platform will also serve as central project gateway and databank of all deliverables that can be freely exploited by non-members, who wish to follow the good example of the Allaince4Life.

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