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The Euskampus Foundation is promoting nine co-operative projects to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic

Within the framework of the Euskampus Resilience Programme the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country, University of Bordeaux, TECNALIA and the DIPC are offering a collective, local, cross-border response to the health crisis and its socioeconomic consequences

  • News

First publication date: 23/10/2020

Igor Campillo, Iñaki San Sebastián, Nekane Balluerka and Javier Aizpurua. Photo: UPV/EHU.

The Vice-Chancellor of the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country, the CEO of the Technological Research and Development Centre TECNALIA, the Head of the Donostia International Physics Center (DIPC) and the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bordeaux (UBx) have today announced the approval of 9 co-operative projects. The main aim of this initiative is to encourage the researchers in these organisations to work together to tackle a range of challenges relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. They are projects with high potential in terms of their scientific, technological, economic and social impact and tackle issues such as reliable diagnosis and prognosis; effective prevention and treatment; infection monitoring and traceability; protection and equipment to combat biological threats; and anticipation and overcoming of this crisis and others that may emerge, thus boosting the capacity for recovery and the building of a resilient society.

The organisations collaborating in Euskampus have made available funds amounting to 230,000 euros to encourage cooperation through a co-funding scheme for developing these projects. Many of them have other means of funding and they all hope to obtain additional funding from other programmes (Basque, State and European ones) to go on advancing along the proposed lines of research. What is unique about this programme is that it is based on co-operation and the activation of joint scientific and technological capabilities all designed to tackle more complex projects and multiply the impact of research activity. The projects have an interdisciplinary approach and involve at least two of the above-mentioned organisations, in addition to other research centres, and one of the projects involves the Department of Health of the Government of the Basque Autonomous Community.

The complexity of the challenges in a situation like the current one calls for the promoting of joint actions with innovative approaches going beyond disciplinary dynamics. Since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic and the subsequent health emergency emerged, researchers at the UPV/EHU, TECNALIA, the DIPC, and UBx have displayed a huge response capability by proposing a whole host of research projects and participating in various public calls and private initiatives. The four organisations are key R&D players in terms of size and excellence, with clearly complementary capabilities; they maintain a strategic alliance relationship that is coordinated through the Euskampus Foundation via joint operational programmes. The four organisations decided to launch a Cooperation Programme so that through Euskampus they could orchestrate a joint response to the crisis and thus increase the effectiveness of their efforts and the impact of their capabilities.

Once the Euskampus Resilience Programme had been opened at the end of June, a period of one month was established for the submitting of proposals. The proposals were then subjected to an external evaluation to guarantee excellence, and the aspects that make this programme a unique initiative were rated: orientation towards challenges, promotion of co-leadership of the organisations, complementarity and interdisciplinarity of the research groups, mobilisation of resources of other present or future programmes, identification of the potential impact of each project, and promotion of various aspects of responsible research and innovation (open access, gender equality, public commitment, etc.).

The 9 proposals presented today were selected on the basis of the external evaluation; to a greater or lesser degree they meet the above-mentioned criteria and highlight the response capability of the research community across the four organisations. In the final selection, priority was given to aspects such as the social projection of the projects, the promoting of emerging collaboration and the potential mileage of the projects beyond the current crisis.

The participants in the press conference also pointed out that the 2020 edition of Euskampus Bordeaux Eguna is due to be held on 30 October; it is an annual meeting in which the academic and research communities on both sides of the frontier share the advances in their cooperative activity. This year’s meeting, which will have a reduced capacity, will be broadcast online from the Miramar Palace, taking advantage of the infrastructure of the UPV/EHU’s Summer Courses.

In the view of the Vice-Chancellor of the UPV/EHU Nekane Balluerka, “the Euskampus Resilience Programme is a splendid example showing that collaboration among our organisations is not only desirable and possible, but also absolutely necessary to tackle the challenges we are facing. Only by walking together can we take steps towards economic and health recovery. True collaboration of the kind that we have been building for the last decade in Euskampus is the best way to move towards equity and sustainability, and towards a dynamic, active Basque society, capable of addressing complex challenges at each moment".

Iñaki San Sebastián, CEO of TECNALIA, believes that “if we are learning something in this crisis it is that science and technology and the ongoing efforts of our researchers are also essential activities in our society, not only to improve people's life quality, but also to make our business base increasingly competitive in a context as complex as the one we are experiencing".

Representing the DIPC in the Euskampus Foundation Javier Aizpurua stressed the value of science in a context like the present one: “We will not find a way out of a crisis like this one and out of those that may emerge in the future with more science alone, but we certainly won’t find a way out without it. We must go on committing ourselves to basic research, applied research, technological development, culture and knowledge in all its forms, and to create and maintain the conditions for excellence, because it is out of these conditions that responses to complex problems can emerge in a climate of collaboration, like the one we encourage in Euskampus.”

And the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bordeaux Manuel Tuñón de Lara highlighted the value of collaboration among the organisations participating in the programme: “When we extend our perimeter of collaboration and work in a cross-border environment, such as the one we have created with the UPV/EHU and our Basque partners, we can go further. Each of us separately would not be able to develop the impact that we are generating together.”

THE NINE PROJECTS APPROVED

1. SARSense. Basic knowledge about binding mechanisms for the rational design of sensors designed to detect SARS-CoV-2

LR1: Thomas Schäfer, POLYMAT UPV-EHU

Other researchers in group 1: Fernando P COSSÍO

LR2: Carmelo di Primo, Institut Européen de Chimie et Biologie, University of Bordeaux, INSERM U1212-UMR CNRS 5320

LR3: Ivan Rivill de la Cruz, DIPC

Other researchers in group 3: Juan José GOMEZ CADENAS

2. Covid-AR. Deterioration of the health crisis due to antibiotic resistance associated with the Covid-19 pandemic

LR1: Itziar Alkorta, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology UPV-EHU

Other researchers in group 1: Néstor ETXEBARRIA, Ailette PRIETO SOBRINO, Lucía GALLEGO

LR2: Marie-Helene Devier, EPOC UMR 5805 CNRS – University of Bordeaux

Other researchers in group 2: Hélène BUDZINSKI

LR3: Karmele Herrans-Pascual, TECNALIA

3. EISCOVID-19. Evaluation of the Impact on Health of the measures to manage and control COVID-19 in the Basque Autonomous Community and Nouvelle-Aquitaine

LR1: Maite Morteruel, Department of Nursing/ Faculty of Medicine and Nursing UPV-EHU

Other researchers in group 1: Unai MARTÍN, Amaia BACIGALUPE

LR2: Ana Rivadeneyra-Sicilia, ISPED -Bordeaux Population Health-University of Bordeaux

Other researchers in group 2: Viviane RAMEL, Laurence KOTOBI, Marcela BENAVIDES

LR3: Elena Aldasoro, Department of Health of the Government of the Basque Autonomous Community

4. BOTA-ROBOTA. Robot for Covid-19 disinfection purposes capable of opening doors to move around inside buildings autonomously

LR1: Damien SALLÉ, TECNALIA

Other researchers in group 1: Aitor IBARGUREN, José Luis OUTÓN MÉNDEZ, Dr Hector HERRERO

LR2:  Basilio SIERRA (Professor), Faculty of Informatics, RSAIT Group, UPV-EHU.

Other researchers in group 2: Dr Elena LAZKANO, Dr Ekaitz JAUREGI, Dr Igor RODRÍGUEZ

5. URJES. Addressing Legal, Ethical and Social Issues in major public health crises

LR1: Pilar Nicolas-Jiménez, Department of Public Law. RG Chair of Law and Human Genome UPV-EHU.

Other researchers in group 1: Iñigo DE MIGUEL-BERIAIN, Itziar ALKORTA-IDIAKEZ

LR2:  Marie Lamarche, Faculty of Law- University of Bordeaux

6. INFECTON. Towards universal biomarkers of infectious diseases by means of colloidal sensors enabled by plasmons assisted by artificial vision and machine learning

LR1: Marek Grzelczak, DIPC Nanochemistry and plasmonic lab

Other researchers in group 1: Javier AIZPURUA

Other researchers in group 2: David de Sancho, Bioinformatics Group -UPV-EHU; Elena Lazkano, RSAIT Group -UPV-EHU; Basilio Sierra RSAIT Group -UPV-EHU; Ignacio Arganda-Carreras, Machine Learning Group UPV-EHU.

7. CORTAR. SARS-CoV-2 receptor routing to treat patients with Covid-19

LR1: Marc Landry, Institute of Neurodegenerative Diseases -University of Bordeaux, CNRS (UMR CNRS 5293)

Other researchers in group 1: Harald WODRICH, Marie-Line ANDREOLA, Thomas TRIAN

LR2:  Rafael Rodríguez-Puertas, Dept. Pharmacology. Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, UPV-EHU.

Other researchers in group 2: Marta MORENO-RODRIGUEZ, Jonatan MARTINEZ-GARDEAZABAL, Iker BENGOETXEA.

8. RX-AI-Covid. System to support COVID-19 diagnosis via X-ray of thorax for fast screening of acute respiratory syndromes

LR1: Arantza Bereciartua-Pérez, TECNALIA

Other researchers in group 1: Estíbaliz  GARROTE-CONTERAS, Artzai PICÓN

LR2:  Teodoro Palomares, Department of Surgery, Radiology and Physical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Nursing UPV-EHU

Other researchers in group 2: Enrique AÑORBE-MENDIVIL, Pilar AISA-VARELA, Andrea VALERO-MACÍA

9. COnfVID19 Development of reliable prognostic models for healthcare management

LR1: Borja Calvo Department of Computer Sciences and Artificial Intelligence, Faculty of Informatics, UPV-EHU

Other researchers in group 1: Iñaki INZA, José Ramón RUEDA, Usue MORI, Leticia HERNANDO, Mikel RUEDA

LR2:  Javier del Ser, TECNALIA

Other researchers in group 2: Esther VILLAR-RODRÍGUEZ, Ibai LAÑA

LR3. Santiago MAZUELAS, BCAM (Basque Center for Applied Mathematics)

ABOUT THE EUSKAMPUS FOUNDATION

The Euskampus Foundation is set up as a catalyst of interdisciplinary, multi-player collaboration that strengthens the co-leadership of its trustee organisations to address major global challenges and maximise the social impact of science and technology:

  • It promotes scientific and technological research excellence in collaboration, connection and integration of the players in the Basque university, scientific and innovation ecosystem with a cross-border focus and an international reach.
  • It connects its partners with each other and with other necessary players to generate a multiplier effect of the capabilities and experience they have built up, and to make them available to major social and global challenges.
  • It facilitates the interconnection, collaboration, participation and inclusion of the players as a whole through a systemic, multidisciplinary outlook.
  • It has a unique, in-house way of tackling diversity from the basis of a local outlook combined with a global, cross-border, international focus, and this approach is undertaken from a natural understanding of the multicultural and multilingual reality that governs the current context.

Throughout the programmes and projects it is promoting or in which it is participating Euskampus encourages values such as genuine collaboration, co-leadership, mutual trust, inclusivity, generosity and responsibility with the ultimate aim of contributing towards addressing global challenges and generating maximum impact and social value.

The Euskampus Foundation was set up in 2011 by the UPV/EHU, TECNALIA and the DIPC within the framework of the Euskampus International Campus of Excellence. The University of Bordeaux joined its Board of Trustees in 2017. CAF and Ormazabal-Velatia, and the Ikerbasque Basque Foundation for Science are also trustees of the Euskampus Foundation.