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«This Centre is a milestone for our scientific community, and I am personally proud of Latvian researchers who have demonstrated their scientific excellence and strong potential for cooperation on this scale,» the President of Latvia, Egils Levits stated at the opening of the Baltic Biomaterials Centre of Excellence – BBCE.
BBCE project was solemnly opened on 29 January at the Faculty of Materials Science and Applied Chemistry of Riga Technical University.
The President of Latvia points out that thanks to the efforts of scientists, this project has brought 13 million euro into our national economy, and this project is one of many that have been developed and promoted by the Government of Latvia and the European Union (EU).
For the next seven years the newly established Centre will serve as the platform that will combine expertise and infrastructure of internationally recognised teams from Latvia, Germany and Switzerland. The President continued by stating that this Centre will be a platform of excellence for the development of biomaterials necessary for bone regeneration and new creative applications in biomedicine. In the opening speech, the President stated, «Opening of the Excellence centre will have positive impact on growth potential and socio-economic outreach of Latvia. According to current plans and estimates, total economic impact of the centre will be more than 74 million euro over the next 20-year period.»
He wished all the success in implementation of this project to all specialists from Riga Technical University (RTU), Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis (LIOS), Riga Stradiņš University (RSU), AO Research Institute Davos, Switzerland, Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany and LLC Riga Stradiņš University Institute of Stomatology. «I would like to specially thank the project coordinator Dr. Jānis Ločs. Jānis, this project would not have been possible without your passion, your determination and your dedication to science and excellence,» stated E. Levits.
RTU Rector, Academician Leonīds Ribickis also highlighted the great work done by RTU scientists over the years to achieve excellence in the development of biomaterials, which has persuaded the EU to invest in the creation of the Centre for Excellence in Latvia. He recalls the great accomplishments of Professor Rūdolfs Cimdiņš and commends the achievements of Professor Līga Bērziņa-Cimdiņa and the team of scientists from RTU Rudolfs Cimdins Riga Biomaterials Innovation and Development Centre. The Rector also pointed out that the Latvian partners involved in the project are very strong, and attests that, in cooperation with foreign partners, all the best efforts will be made to make BBCE project successful. Internationally recognised research institutions and industry representatives have joined up for this ambitious project on building scientific capacity – RTU, LIOS, RSU, RSU Institute of Stomatology, as well as AO Research Institute Davos, Switzerland, and Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany. For the implementation of the project the European Union (EU) funding programme Horizon 2020 has allocated 15 million euro, the same amount of funding for the improvement of infrastructure was granted by the State, ERAF and the project partners.
Project partners in Latvia have accumulated competence in their own field. For example, RTU research and developments in creation of biomaterials to replace damaged human tissues and organs have been successfully conducted for more than 20 years. In close cooperation with hospitals, including RSU Institute of Stomatology, long-term clinical trials have been performed, while LIOS is a place well known on Baltic, European and global level for the development of new medicines. By combining competences, it will be possible to ensure a full biomaterial development cycle from the idea in the laboratory to the clinical application.
BBCE will strengthen the industry of biomaterials in the region, allow scientists to research, develop and commercialize new biomaterials for bone healing, face, mouth and jaw surgery, orthopaedics and other areas. The project is aimed at acquiring new knowledge that will allow increasing efficiency and development of excellence in human resources, knowledge, research, technological development and infrastructure. Significant funds will be invested in the training of scientific and medical staff, in the development of scientific expertise and in the modernisation of research infrastructure. In the next few years, BBCE headquarters will be established at RTU Kipsala Campus on the basis of RTU Rudolfs Cimdins Riga Biomaterials Innovation and Development Centre. LIOS and RSU research infrastructure will also be expanded.
By increasing scientific excellence, it will be possible to provide more medical services of better quality, raise funding for research from the EU structural funds and other sources, and provide higher-level research services for medical device, cosmetic, pharmaceutical and other industries. By combining the forces of RTU, LIOS, RSU and RSU Institute of Stomatology over the next few years it is expected to reach critical mass for the development of medical device industry by promoting the entry of innovative products and services to the market, the growth of local businesses and the attraction of investment from foreign companies.
BBCE is a project funded by EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation program Teaming Phase 2 (project No 857287).