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News article2 July 2021

Cell and gene therapy: the first EIC-ERC workshop

The European Innovation Council (EIC) and the European Research Council (ERC) hosted their first joint workshop on gene and cell therapy on 29 June 2021. 

The workshop brought together ERC grantees active in the area of the gene and cell therapy, representatives of EIC gene and therapy projects and members of the EIC Board and ERC’s Scientific Council.

Cell and gene therapy is a dynamic field of research, ranging from basic science to clinical applications as well as a promising area of medicine. That is why the EIC and ERC have chosen this for this first joint workshop.

The purpose of the workshop was to explore the emerging scientific trends and potential applications of the scientific breakthroughs in an area of great importance both for our scientists and for lives of so many people around the world.

Joint EIC-ERC action can pave the way to effectively link the excellent ERC cell and gene therapy science to the EIC’s innovation intelligence and capabilities in the area and potentially lead to increasing the European competitiveness in cell and gene therapy, with a clear economic and societal impact.

Professor Jean Pierre Bourguignon, President of the ERC ad interim, said:

This first joint workshop brought together the world of research and the world of innovation to talk to each other, to understand each other better, but also to inspire each other. The meeting demonstrated again the relevance of curiosity-driven research to provide innovative solutions for industry and medicine and to address social needs. We know that the gap between frontier research and innovation is often huge, and that's why the EIC and ERC, which have different but complementary missions, join efforts to bridge this gap.

Mark Ferguson, the President of the EIC Board, said: 

The European Innovation Council’s mission is to support transformative technologies, innovations and businesses, and we are working very closely with the ERC to ensure that our instruments are designed to provide a continuum of possibilities for excellent science to translate into impactful applications.

The analysis of ERC grants under Horizon 2020 shows the researchers’ considerable interest in cell and gene therapy. The ERC has funded more than 150 research projects in this area since 2014, worth in total over €300 million. 

The researchers approach cell and gene therapy from various perspectives and methods across all life science fields and many angles rooted in physical sciences and engineering. 

These ERC projects, even though driven by the interest of principal investigators, are highly relevant to EU priories in health, biotechnology, nanotechnology and advanced materials. 

Under Horizon Europe, the EIC has just published a call on emerging technologies in cell and gene therapy. The aim of this EIC Pathfinder Challenge is to fund proposals focused on novel concept-based technologies that can contribute to the development of more effective cell and gene therapy (CGT) treatments, and on technological solutions beyond the state-of-the-art, that have the potential to overcome critical challenges currently being faced by the cell and gene therapy research community and innovation-based industry.

The EIC and ERC will continue their collaboration. The next thematic workshop will take place in 2022 and will discuss energy storage technologies.



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