Polish institute beefs up research expertise
A Polish institute strengthened its research capabilities via an EU-funded project. A package of measures has helped the Institute of Animal Reproduction and Food Research (IARFR) extend its expertise in three key areas - food, biodiversity and health.
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IARFR is part of the Polish Academy of Sciences and is based in Warmia and Mazury, one of the countrys most under-developed regions. The EU-funded REFRESH project allowed the Institute to take part in two-way staff secondments with 14 leading European research organisations. Top-class international researchers and managerial staff were also recruited and vital scientific equipment was upgraded as part of the project.
The investment gave scientists the opportunity to undertake training and participate in conferences worldwide. REFRESH also allowed IARFR to achieve better cooperation with researchers, regional authorities and entrepreneurs and disseminate scientific results to the general public.
With the project completed, IARFR has gained a competitive, European-scale research potential that allows us to perform interdisciplinary studies to determine the effects of genetic and environmental factors on the regulation of physiological and pathological processes in humans and animals, says project coordinator Mariusz PiskuÅ‚a, a professor at IARFR.
The changes delivered through REFRESH have paid significant dividends for the Institute in terms of its international and local standing. The funding made it possible to establish a Research Support Office (RSO), which has boosted capacity and improved the Institutes ability to participate in EU programmes such as Horizon 2020.
The RSO has been able to coordinate the submission of new EU-supported projects, which have generated an additional EUR 4.5 million for the Institutes budget. This work and new European contacts developed through staff exchanges means the Institute is now better integrated with the European research network.
IARFR has been able to contribute to the regions socio-economic development by establishing a Knowledge Transfer Arena. This workshop-based initiative allowed authorities, academia and SMEs to take advantage of the Institutes expertise.
The Arena has since been expanded into a regional science-industry network, with the IARFR heavily involved in delivering projects that boost innovative capacities of the regionally important agri-food sector.
The Institute is now seen as one of the key engines of cooperation between the regions science base and agri-food industries, adds PiskuÅ‚a. We have run various projects aimed at boosting regional development through the transfer of research-based innovations into the market.
Dissemination of the Institutes work was a crucial part of projects activities. The IARFR successfully organised international conferences and workshops attracting a total of 1 100 participants, including authorities, PhD students and researchers from over 37 countries.
All the actions carried out under REFRESH mean that the IARFR continues to go from strength to strength. The Institute has obtained the status of a Leading National Research Centre, awarded to Polish flagship scientific units by the Polish government. It is also now a partner of the prestigious Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC-FOOD) programme, which is supported by the European Institute of Innovation Technology. The partnership involves leading universities, research organisations and top-rank global businesses. The Institute is a shareholder of Polish-Finnish CLC North-East company located in Warsaw established within the KIC programme.
Significant efforts have been made to expand the Institute at a new location neighbouring the Olsztyn Science and Technology Park. This endeavour seeks support from regional government and EU structural funds, and would make the Institute a crucial pillar of the regions business environment.