Alliance4Life member universities are committed to bridge the innovation gap in CEE region

In March 2024 representatives of 12 Alliance4Life member institutions, including Medical University-Sofia, gathered in Brno to kick-off the new EU funded project A4L_BRIDGE. The 4-year project will be focused 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.
The kick-off conference was opened by Vice Rector for Research and Doctoral Studies of Masaryk University Šárka Pospíšilová who emphasized that this project represents a significant milestone in ongoing efforts of the Masaryk University to advance research and innovation in Central and Eastern Europe. The Vice Rector thanked the partners for their lasting dedication and commitment that they showed during the last 6 years and introduced the history and context of the Alliance4Life foundation.
Despite investments and dedicated schemes, the research and innovation performance of the EU 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 10 progressive life science institutions from CEE. Former director of CEITEC Masaryk University, Jiří Nantl, who initiated the birth of the alliance and is currently serving as Deputy Minister of Education of the Czech Republic visited the kick-off conference and wished the partners all the best in their ambitious endeavours.
Another important conference guest was Edit Herzog, former Hungarian MEP who currently serves as Senior Advisor at the Science Business Widening Initiative. She encouraged the Alliance4Life members to continue with their actions to show that research institutions from CEE are valuable members of the European Research Area.
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, one of them being the MU-Sofia. Together, the 12 member institutes turned previously piloted ideas into concrete actions.
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 CEE.
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 voice of the research institutions from Central and Eastern Europe is 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.

Here are the partner universities in Alliance4Life:
Masaryk University (CEITEC MU – Central European Institute of Technology), Czech Republic
St. Anne’s University Hospital Brno (FNUSA-ICRC – International Clinical Research Center), Czech Republic
Medical University of Sofia (MUS), Bulgaria
Biomedical Research Center of the Slovak Academy of Sciences (BMC SAS), Slovakia
Medical University of Łodz (MUL), Poland
University of Zagreb School of Medicine (UZSM), Croatia
University of Tartu (TU), Estonia
Vilnius University – Faculty of Medicine (VU), Lithuania
Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis (LIOS), Latvia
University of Ljubljana (UL), Slovenia
Semmelweis University (SU), Hungary
Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy Bucharest (UMFCD), Romania