2015

InSciTeYear in review

The start of InSciTe:
building bridges

With a feeling of pride and accomplishment we introduce to you the annual review of Chemelot InSciTe in 2015. Many have contributed to the successes of InSciTe. Thanks to their continuous commitment and enthusiasm we could achieve what is presented here. Wishing you an enjoyable and inspirational read.

"Realising a dream"

2015 was the first fully operational year for InSciTe. “A year full of challenges, but also successes”, explains InSciTe’s Managing Director Dr. Emiel Staring. “Everything we do is new. We are walking on new ground. This means we must be creative and continually explain to others what our ambitions are and where we are headed. We did a good job of this in 2015 and have laid the foundations for a promising future.”

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1500
Initialed pages since January 1, 2015.
Dr. Emiel Staring
Managing Directeur Chemelot InSciTe

Inspiring and learning environment

“InSciTe reflects my idea that people must step outside the traditional boxes in order to make strides”, says Prof. Dr. Albert Scherpbier, InSciTe board member from Maastricht University (UM) and Maastricht University Medical Centre (MUMC+). “Different competences and cultures coming together is very inspiring and educational”, agrees Dr. Marcel Wubbolts of DSM and chairman of the InSciTe board. “That has already resulted in something unique.”

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Prof.dr. Albert Scherpbier
Dean Faculty of Health, Medicine & Life Sciences UM. Vice-chairman Executive Board MUMC+
Dr. Marcel Wubbolts
CTO DSM

The added value is in the interaction

Researchers working side by side with new technologies and upscaling these on the basis of valorisation and use; that is the added value of InSciTe. That is the view of InSciTe board members Prof. Dr. Peter Hilbers and Prof. Dr. Jaap Schouten of Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and Dr. Bert Kip, representative of Chemelot Scientific Participations (CSP), an investment fund from the Provincie Limburg.

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Dr.ir. Bert Kip
Managing Director Chemelot Campus & Representative Chemelot Scientific Participations
Prof.dr.ir. Jaap Schouten
Dean Department of Chemical Engineering & Chemistry TU/e
Prof.dr. Peter Hilbers
Dean Department of Biomedical Technology TU/e
27mar

Chemelot InSciTe officially launched as research- and valorization institute to develop sustainable solutions for a circular economy and biomedical materials for healthy ageing

Chemelot InSciTe receives OP-Zuid subsidy to scale-up development and production of ‘green’ chemical building blocks from biomass in collaboration with partners in the South of the Netherlands

17dec

What are the pillars of our bridges?

InSciTe is dedicated to create an open innovation ecosystem where professionals come together to share ideas, expertise and visions, inspire others, and innovate together. All of InSciTe’s activities are structured around 4 pillars, also called the 4 E’s:
Expertise, Experimentation, Entrepreneurship and Education.

Grand Opening Chemelot InSciTe

Expertise

InSciTe’s research and innovation areas focus on the development of innovative biomedical materials for healthy ageing and sustainable biobased building blocks for a circular economy. Within these research fields, partners from academia and industry bundle their strengths to make materials smarter.

From lab to market

“As a researcher, you don’t often get the opportunity to make the transition from the lab to the pilot plant”, says Dr. Michèle Janssen, Researcher at DSM and Project Leader of the bio-based LA2AA project. “So I am very happy that our project is now executed within the InSciTe program.” Dr. Bart van As, Business developer for InSciTe bio-based activities, is helping to bring the project a step further towards commercial success.

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Dr.ir. Michèle Janssen
Senior researcher DSM
Dr.ir. Bart van As
Business developer Chemelot InSciTe

A sustainable collaboration

The biomedical InSciTe project SyCaP brings experts together from clinical practice, mechanical engineering and materials science. This provides unique opportunities to develop an implant that can be used to help more orthopaedic patients with damaged cartilage. In addition, in a sustainable collaboration based on trust, more scientific challenges can be addressed. Project leader Dr. René van Donkelaar, researcher at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), Dr. Pieter Emans, orthopaedic surgeon at Maastricht University Medical Centre (MUMC+), and Dr. Jens Thies, researcher at DSM, elaborate.

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Dr. Pieter Emans
Orthopedic surgeon MUMC+
Dr. Jens Thies
Director Science & Innovation DSM Biomedical
Dr. René van Donkelaar
Associate professor TU/e

A step closer to realisation in practice

Thanks to InSciTe, a large network has opened up for Ivo Schefman, founder of start-up Eyegle, and Prof. Dr. Rudy Nuijts, Ophthalmologist at Maastricht University Medical Centre (MUMC+) and project leader of the biomedical ophthalmology project with the acronym OCDC. It brings their dream of treating patients with eye disorders in a more efficient and simple manner, much closer to practical reality.

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Ing. Ivo Schefman
Co-founder Eyegle bv
Prof.dr. Rudy Nuijts
Professor of cornea transplant and refractive surgery MUMC+

Experimentation

InSciTe’s physical nucleus is at the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Sittard-Geleen, were it offers state-of-the-art facilities, such as a pilot plant, biomedical laboratories and clean rooms, and offices. The facilities are designed with flexibility in mind whilst maintaining high quality standards, allowing them to meet both the current and future needs of the biomedical and biobased industry.

The Biomedical facility

Construction of the Chemelot InSciTe Biomedical facility began end 2014, on the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Sittard-Geleen. The biomedical facility is now operational and comprises 600 m2 of equipped, state-of-the-art open RT&D laboratories and clean rooms. The facility provides a location where researchers and companies in the biomedical and regenerative medicine field come together and collaborate on developing a range of medical devices and solutions.

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5184m3
airflow per hour in 1 cleanroom
28sep

Chemelot InSciTe opens new, state-of-the-art biomedical laboratory with grand opening symposium

The Biobased facility

Within the biobased program, Chemelot InSciTe will execute scale up experiments for the development and production of biobased building blocks. For this purpose, InSciTe will make use of pilot plant facilities that are being realized on the Brightlands Chemelot Campus. This is a multi-purpose multi-client pilot plant of which two thirds is available for InSciTe activities. This pilot plant is part of a larger complex, housing several other pilot plants. The construction of this complex started in June 2015.

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520m2
floorspace, available for experimental set-ups
18jun

Construction work for a pilot plant used to scale-up and produce ‘green’ chemical building blocks from biomass has started on the Brightlands Chemelot has started on the Brightlands Chemelot Campus

18jun

Education

InSciTe is a breeding ground for talent, where students, researchers and industry representatives receive a broad training spectrum that prepares them to become the next generation of biomedical and biobased materials professionals. The first training courses have started in 2015.

Regulatory awareness training

23 participants in 2015

Good Manufacturing Practice training

11 participants in 2015


“This training is in particular relevant for the PhD students and Postdocs, this type of training is missing in academia” -student in the Regulatory Awareness Training”

– student Regulatory Awareness Training


Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurs are pivotal for developing and delivering the products, technologies and services in which knowledge finds commercial use. That is why Chemelot InSciTe facilitates a range of business services to host, fuel, connect and train entrepreneurs. Business services include project management, business case support, legal advice, valorization of RT&D, training, and connecting to an extensive network.

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Statistics

The degree of success and what has been achieved is often expressed in numbers and graphs. We as InSciTe also like to give a little insight into our construction work to show what we have achieved in 2015 and what foundations we have already laid thus far toward 2019

The year 2015 in numbers

Walking the bridge towards 2016

2016 will mark the further growth and expansion of InSciTe. Our bridges will become stronger and wider: with new projects, new researchers and new partners, in new collaborations and in new facilities. We do this with only one goal in mind: Driving collaborations on top-research to create societal and economic value.

We would love to keep in contact!

“Realising a dream”

2015 was the first fully operational year for InSciTe. “A year full of challenges, but also successes”, explains InSciTe’s Managing Director Dr. Emiel Staring. “Everything we do is new. We are walking on new ground. This means we must be creative and continually explain to others what our ambitions are and where we are headed. We did a good job of this in 2015 and have laid the foundations for a promising future.”

InSciTe focuses on projects that have outgrown an academic setting, but are still too risky to be picked up by a business. Emiel: “InSciTe wants to bridge that gap. If you have a proven concept in a university setting, you must still go through a lot of steps before you have convinced a business that it is a good investment. That is exactly what InSciTe is doing: accelerate research and further develop a product or process to the level at which businesses are willing to take the risk to bring it to market. And that is how a brilliant idea leads to a social and financial return.”

Unique concept

Emiel describes InSciTe as “a new generation of public-private collaboration”. Emiel, previously the Managing Director of the public-private collaboration program BioMedical Materials (BMM), still remembers his first involvement in the concept InSciTe well. “It was 2012 and I was asked by DSM to help think about a new public-private collaboration. DSM, Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), Maastricht University (UM) and Maastricht University Medical Centre (MUMC+) and the Brightlands Chemelot Campus were writing a business plan for collaboration in the biomedical and bio-based fields. It was not to be a virtual collaboration only, as I was used to, but one in which the parties actually work side by side in their own facilities. In addition, it was no longer a subsidy programme, but an institute in which parties invested jointly. The aim was to create value from university concepts by further developing them in a way that businesses could pick up. The initiating parties DSM, TU/e and UM together with MUMC+ decided to invest EUR 10 million each in InSciTe. The campus put the InSciTe concept to Provincie Limburg, which agreed to invest EUR 30 million. The province was also willing to invest in the required infrastructure. This enabled the InSciTe concept to become reality.”

Complete package

“InSciTe offers a complete package”, says Emiel: “Researchers can physically collaborate in our own laboratories, for both bio-based and biomedical developments. We bring knowledge together, both in a virtual and physical manner. This results in acceleration. You share the investment and risk. We guide enterprising researchers and start-ups to further develop their market opportunity. We teach them to think in a product and commercially focused manner, help them in their search for possible investors and introduce them to networks for the purpose of finding investors and clients. In addition, we train them in Intellectual Property, working in a pilot plant, etc. In this way we are educating a new generation of enterprising researchers, who work on the interface of academia and commerce. The heart of InSciTe is located at the Brightlands Chemelot Campus. This means that we have educational institutes, start-ups, the large chemical businesses and a teaching hospital in the area. It is an ecosystem, a community of like-minded parties, with whom you can share knowledge. That is also an important factor. The complete package is a unique value proposition.”

International

The major motivation for Emiel and his team is the contribution InSciTe can make to solving important social questions. “Through our projects we develop new biomedical applications, so that people can continue to remain healthy and active later in life. The bio-based products and projects make us less dependent on fossil fuels and reduce our CO2 footprint. At the same time, we contribute to sustainable employment here in the region. Businesses participating in InSciTe often also choose to base themselves here. We want to increase awareness of our institute via a concentric method. We will look for the next alliances in our physical geographic vicinity. Once InSciTe has created more awareness and we have a clear profile there, it will also be easier to bind parties in the greater region to us. In this manner we want to go from being a regional to an international player."

The first horizon is 2019. Emiel: “We have investment to 2020. This means we are already searching for partners who believe in our concept and want to invest with us. We are building an institute with a good name and reputation, which is capable of independently operating in the market and attracting partners and resources, in order to continue to develop technology in the long term. I realise that everything we do is new and that there are challenges. But I believe in this concept. We have something unique.”


Building bridges

Dr. Emiel Staring:
"Emiel Staring: “Establishing InSciTe means realising a dream to arrive at a new generation of public-private collaboration. The success of InSciTe stands or falls with building bridges between research institutes, businesses and government. By building these bridges, we have already built an enormous network. That is an important asset.”

Inspiring and learning environment

“InSciTe reflects my idea that people must step outside the traditional boxes in order to make strides”, says Prof. Dr. Albert Scherpbier, InSciTe board member from Maastricht University (UM) and Maastricht University Medical Centre (MUMC+). “Different competences and cultures coming together is very inspiring and educational”, agrees Dr. Marcel Wubbolts of DSM and chairman of the InSciTe board. “That has already resulted in something unique.”

The complementarity is an important strength of InSciTe, according to the board members. Marcel, CTO of DSM: “If we create medical materials in our own biomedical business, we don’t have a partner that is able to help us with clinical applications. That is the role that Maastricht plays.” Albert, Dean of the Department of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences at UM and Deputy Chairman of the MUMC+ Board of Directors: “We want to organise our research along the entire length of the chain, i.e. from bench to bedside. However, we lack some of the links in that chain, such as translation into concrete products. We need to get these from private parties such as joint founding father DSM. The other founding fathers also bring their own valuable knowledge to the table. In addition, I find it very positive and stimulating for my people to be in a different environment. It gives us all a lot of energy.”

Educational

“I always call InSciTe the academic workplace, an institute where people work and learn together,” says Albert. Marcel agrees: “I believe in contact moments. Inspiring things happen when you meet each other. We also see this in the Board. If we encounter a problem, Albert will come up with a suggestion that I would never have thought of. A lot can be learnt from that.” Albert: “Once you step outside your traditional little box, you start to push the boundaries. For us as the board, the trick is to stimulate this mind set in researchers. We need to create the frameworks and at the same time offer sufficient scope to do things differently together.”

Challenge

For Marcel and Albert, the added value of collaboration is obvious. Marcel: “In general, a shared investment yields a higher return than an individual investment. But I still need to explain regularly why DSM invests in InSciTe. Internally they say: ‘we can do so many nice things ourselves with that money.’ And that’s when I need to engage people in our story: that you get a lot further as partners that complement each other. That is still a challenge.” Albert: “Actually, you don’t need to explain anything to researchers. They are enormously inspired and are raring to go. When I see the kind of creative projects they come up with, we have enough to keep us busy for years.”

Sustainability

“Together we can really make a difference in sustainable solutions for the future”, says Marcel. “Sustainability is an enormous motivation for me. InSciTe contributes to people, planet, and profit. The bio-based programme focuses on planet profit and the biomedical programme on people profit.” Albert: “We see a future in which people are getting older, but the question is whether they are ageing well. Furthermore, healthcare will become too expensive. So we must work towards sustainable healthcare, in which the quality of life comes first. InSciTe enables us to take new steps towards this, because we are collaborating.”

“For the coming years, it is important that we build a strong institute, which focuses on sustainable new material solutions that contribute to a better environment and smarter medical solutions”, says Marcel. “We strive to bring projects from the lab to the market.” Albert adds: “Also think about opportunities to generate commercial activity in the region and create a ripple effect.” Marcel agrees: “If we do this well, and we also look for connections beyond the founding fathers, then it will certainly be possible to become the leading European institute in this field.”

“We have already established something unique”, says Marcel. “But of course we want to build on sustainability. By 2019 we must have a structure, of which we'll say in a few years’ time: that was a great adventure, with which we have really contributed to a sustainable society!”


Building bridges

Dr. Marcel Wubbolts:
“We build bridges between research and application. Between academics and the field, different universities and knowledge institutes, start-ups… We carry the message of sustainability to the medical and bio-based fields to connect people to us.”

Prof.dr. Albert Scherpbier:
“And we build bridges between the founding fathers. We bridge the gap between cultures, step over differences and are glad to see each other do well, because we want to do it together.”

The added value is in the interaction

Researchers working side by side with new technologies and upscaling these on the basis of valorisation and use; that is the added value of InSciTe. That is the view of InSciTe board members Prof. Dr. Peter Hilbers and Prof. Dr. Jaap Schouten of Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and Dr. Bert Kip, representative of Chemelot Scientific Participations (CSP), an investment fund from the Provincie Limburg.

“Here in Eindhoven we are participating in InSciTe because together you can do things that you cannot do alone”, says Peter, Dean of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at TU/e. “InSciTe provides us with the opportunity to perform clinical trials and to accelerate the valorisation process. We are able to facilitate our researchers and define programmes in which they can participate in a focused manner." Jaap, Dean of the Department of Chemical Engineering & Chemistry at TU/e adds: “Our researchers receive additional opportunities to conduct research and are able to make use of facilities, such as the pilot plant for bio-based RT&D, which they would not be able to access without InSciTe. Our spin-offs are only able to reach a certain size within the context of our campus in Eindhoven. In the direct vicinity we view the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Geleen as the most important chemistry and material hub to making the step to further valorisation. The presence of businesses on campus, including founding father DSM, is also important in achieving this."

“As a campus we would like to be a growth engine for the region. That is also the task the province has given us”, Bert, CEO of the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Geleen, explains. “InSciTe brings together researchers in the area of bio-based and biomedical applications. I firmly believe that you also need to do this in a physical location, so that researchers work on new technologies side by side and upscale these on the basis of use and valorisation. This speeds things up. Jaap agrees: “The added value is that facilities are on site. It is hardware, people must physically go there and meet each other. The interaction, on site and with equipment, provides significant added value.”

Role of the board

“The task for the Board is to give the institute its own status and identity, that rises above the sum of the partners”, says Jaap. “It is essential that InSciTe acquires its own facilities, appoints its own researchers and collaborates with other parties in a sustainable manner. As the Board we must work hard on this independence. Bert agrees: ‘InSciTe must develop into a recognised institute. As founding fathers we can facilitate and challenge it. As a campus this means that we enable InSciTe projects to take part in large subsidy processes and search for businesses that would like to be connected to InSciTe. In addition, we offer facilities such as the biomedical laboratories with clean rooms and the bio-based pilot plant. InSciTe is not a programme, it is an institute. If it stops after five years, we’ve done something wrong.” Peter: “As the Board, we also have the role of multiplier. We have put our own resources in and it is important that we use these to generate new resources. In the short term we need showcases; these increase the confidence in InSciTe.”

The three board members see plenty of opportunities for InSciTe. Jaap: “With InSciTe and the Brightlands Chemelot Campus we can span the entire spectrum, from fundamental research at universities through to and including valorisation and the implementation process on campus. If we can connect parties in this manner, we can develop something strong that can have a visible presence, especially on a European level. In my opinion it is not the most important goal to have InSciTe be a success in itself, but above all to have InSciTe be part of a whole chain."

At the same time, the challenge lies in bringing the different parties together, according to the board members. Bert: “People from the commercial sector and academia have different motivations. The old form of public-private collaboration is often virtual and consists predominantly of funding the parties for their research. Within InSciTe we physically bring parties together. It is a challenge to understand each other well, but the pay-off is great. If we are increasingly able to do that in a better way, then the future is bright!"


Building bridges

Prof.dr.ir. Jaap Schouten:
“InSciTe brings parties together with different interests. Bridges need to be built to connect them with each other. Current projects show that we are able to do this.”

Dr.ir. Bert Kip:
“Building bridges and gaining trust is the name of the game when you build an institute like InSciTe. Ultimately this must lead to it being stronger together than the sum of its partners.”

Prof.dr. Peter Hilbers:
“InSciTe is the anchor point of all the bridges that we build. The bridge to Europe is important for institutes and companies that want to connect to an international network. When there is the intention to collaborate, we can bundle forces.”

Entrepreneurship

An important pillar for a successful research and valorization as InSciTe institute is to promote entrepreneurship. Within InSciTe, the term "entrepreneurship" means translating knowledge into market-oriented products and processes, patents, business plans, startups and other forms of value creation. On the other hand we focus on involving and attracting new partners (public and private) in our research projects and facilities. We organize many activities to train researchers within InSciTe, support and connect with other entrepreneurs in the InSciTe network and the innovation ecosystem of Brightlands Chemelot Campus. Our participation in StartUp Bootcamp and the Brightlands Innovation Factory are clear examples of this.

For the entrepreneurship pillar 2015 was focused on choosing the right mix of activities so that we can build sustainable bridges. Potential (strategic) partners, have been identified initially in the Netherlands. Within the biomedical program InSciTe in 2015 began actively recruiting new partners as well as finding tenants for parts of our biomedical facility. Here we work with parties who are looking for specific laboratory space and equipment and at the same time bring specific knowledge and expertise that can add value to the InSciTe projects. Within the biobased program, an OPZuid subsidy already actually led to new strategic partners such as the Green Chemistry Campus in Bergen op Zoom, Biorizon, TNO and Avantium.

We strongly emphasize on controlling the exploitation and commercialization strategies of our InSciTe projects. A kind of entrepreneurial work plan is drawn up which, together with the actual research plan, should increase the chances of success of the projects.

The public-private partnership InSciTe and the way partners collaborate is a new and unique concept in which we strive to lift cooperation between academia and industry to an even higher level. All this with the aim of translating excellent science into better products and processes that can be translated faster to a positive and lasting impact on society.

OCDC

A step closer to realisation in practice

Thanks to InSciTe, a large network has opened up for Ivo Schefman, founder of start-up Eyegle, and Prof. Dr. Rudy Nuijts, Ophthalmologist at Maastricht University Medical Centre (MUMC+) and project leader of the biomedical ophthalmology project with the acronym OCDC. It brings their dream of treating patients with eye disorders in a more efficient and simple manner, much closer to practical reality.

ODCD offers an alternative to applying eye drops. In order for eye drops to be effective, the patient must closely follow the schedule in administering the eye drops. Even when this occurs, there is still the issue that too little of the medicinal product gets to the target area. Furthermore, the preservatives needed in eye drops can lead to eye irritation. As part of InSciTe, the Department of Ophthalmology at MUMC+, together with Eyegle bv and Eindhoven University of Technology, is developing a new way of delivering medicines to the eye. This new method consists of a small flexible rod (coil) filled with medicine. The small rod is placed behind the lower eyelid, where it releases one or more medicines simultaneously in a controlled manner over a longer period of time. The ultimate aim of this concept is to treat eye patients in a more efficient and simple manner. By means of this new method of administering medicines to the eye, it is 100% certain that the medicine that the specialist has prescribed will reach the eye.

Network

“InSciTe embracing our project is highly beneficial to us”, explains Ivo. “Firstly, the consortium offers financial security for the future, for my company and the consortium partners. We no longer need to gather money together every month. Secondly, we now have access to a large and relevant network. The greatest challenge for us is product development; we do not know what we will come up against. It is of great benefit that we can then call someone in our network who can help us move forward. This gives us confidence that we can solve the issues we might encounter.” Rudy agrees with the importance of the network: “InSciTe brings a big mix of people together. This leads to an incredibly enthusiastic exploration of knowledge, a melting pot of ideas. This generates projects that are good for the patient but also strengthen the knowledge base and economic power of the region.”


No paper tiger

Is it important that InSciTe is not only a virtual collaboration, but also offers opportunities to make use of a specially built biomedical laboratory? Ivo: “Setting up a laboratory yourself is very costly, so we are happy that we can use the facilities of InSciTe.” Rudy adds: “Of course it is fantastic that InSciTe is not a paper tiger, but that there is an actual biomedical facility. The challenge here is to complement what is already present. For animal trials we are better off going to the university and for patient trials the hospital; in the case of InSciTe, it is the cleanroom facilities and specialized laboratory diagnostics.”

Speed

Science and commerce meet in the project. How is that going? “As an entrepreneur you always want to go faster, otherwise you would not be a good entrepreneur,” says Rudy. “But being careful is also important.” Ivo elaborates on this: “Things might proceed slower than we would like. At the same time we save time because our partners point out things that we might have overlooked. And we can now focus on the content of the project instead of being occupied with peripheral matters. The beauty is that while we are performing the research this collaboration enables us to already be working on practical requirements, such as IP and legal and regulatory matters. Normally, science and valorisation follow each other. At InSciTe these things go hand in hand. That is an important benefit that takes our project and therefore my business further.”


Building bridges

Ing. Ivo Schefman:
“InSciTe builds bridges between different islands. And the bridge to society itself is also important. If we get to be successful, it not only benefits patients and doctors, but also the regional economy."

Prof.dr. Rudy Nuijts:
“There is the prospect of real products, and in the meantime great bridges are being built and we see incredibly exciting initiatives develop. I think that’s an enormous benefit.”

OCDC

The administration of drugs to the eye is normally done by means of eye drops. For most patients this is easy to do, but there are disadvantages to this route of administration. For example, when applying eye drops only a proportion of the drops are retained in the eye leading to a low amount of drug being absorbed by the tissue. To counteract this, frequent administration with high drug concentrations is required, which can result in side effects or low levels of patient compliance. A new implant is being developed in the form of a flexible rod that is placed under the eyelid in the conjunctival fornix. This rod comprises a unique biomaterial that can deliver a drug over a period of weeks to months. This innovative way of drug administration results in better patient compliance with fewer side effects and improved delivery of drug to the front of the eye.

Horizontal

Process intensification via integration of reaction and separation in novel concepts is highly relevant for all research and valorization lines within the biobased program of InSciTe as it allows an increase in product yield and productivity. Furthermore a lot of products are dependent on the availability of the same chemical building blocks from renewable resources. The goal of the Horizontal project is to map and evaluate different suggested solutions in order to understand which products and processes have a higher potential for creating economic value and are therefore suitable for scale up and piloting. In two closely related work packages the team investigates a number of chemical building blocks in combination with novel reaction-separation techniques (e.g. solvents, spinning disc reactors). Techno-economic evaluations for selected process / product combinations lead to recommendations for the most promising scenarios towards economically viable applications.

Lignin

This project has the ambitious goal to lay the basis of the world’s first bio-refinery for lignin. Lignin is now a waste stream of bio-ethanol plants based on lignocellulose. In this project lignin is transformed into an intermediary product called lignin crude oil via a chemical process that was developed by the Eindhoven University of Technology. In a follow up step this lignin crude oil is fractionated and further converted to valuable products like phenol, resins and octane-boosting fuel additives. The lignin crude oil itself is a suitable marine fuel for which Eindhoven University of Technology both has patents and a specialized spin off company. In this project the first steps are taken towards certification of lignin crude oil as marine fuel in collaboration with a shipping company and a marine engine manufacturer. Using lignin crude oil in such a way ensures a return on investment in a short time, creating additional funding to further develop the products mentioned above.

SyCaP

A sustainable collaboration

The biomedical InSciTe project SyCaP brings experts together from clinical practice, mechanical engineering and materials science. This provides unique opportunities to develop an implant that can be used to help more orthopaedic patients with damaged cartilage. In addition, in a sustainable collaboration based on trust, more scientific challenges can be addressed. Project leader Dr. René van Donkelaar, researcher at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), Dr. Pieter Emans, orthopaedic surgeon at Maastricht University Medical Centre (MUMC+), and Dr. Jens Thies, researcher at DSM, elaborate.

René: “The implants currently on the market for patients with damaged knee cartilage have quite a few drawbacks. Cartilage changes its shape with every step you take, but the very rigid metal implant does not. Furthermore, the current implants are much harsher then the surrounding tissue. You might compare it with skiing. If you suddenly slide over a hard rock while skiing, your ski gets damaged. In the same way, the soft cartilage wears down as it slides over a hard implant. Current clinical interventions have a success rate of 40 to 70%. We are developing a much ‘softer’ implant from synthetic material, which we can use to replace a piece of cartilage or cartilage with bone.” Jens: “Every cartilage damage is slightly different. We try to meet that individuality by having an implant that is patient-specific. The upper surface of the implant matches the natural curvature of the knee. That is a real novelty.” Pieter adds: “We are dealing with people who are elderly and heal more slowly. The challenge, as well as treating them promptly, will be whether the implant will actually take, and how long it will be able to resist osteoarthritis. If everything is successful, we will have a unique implant that delays the need for prosthetics and keeps people mobile for longer.”

“Thanks to InSciTe we now have a unique public-private consortium with knowledge of polymers, clinical practice, biomechanics and biology. That is the ideal combination to create genuinely innovative products.” René agrees. “And in addition, InSciTe has purchased special joint-simulation equipment that enables us to conduct experiments with our implant in a cadaver knee joint before we proceed with animal and human testing. We could never have purchased this equipment ourselves.” Jens: “It would simply be impossible for us to realistically make, develop and test prototypes that go into humans in any other way than having this special construction with InSciTe. Clean room facilities and all controls and regulations that have to be followed are unduly burdensome for universities.”

Jens continues: “One of the things I enjoy about this project is that we have a chance to educate our postdocs, students and each other to get to grips with aspects like intellectual property. Knowledge about patentability and freedom to operate is very important to prepare students for a future in industry and to get projects commercialised. It is very valuable that InSciTe provides training in this area.” René: “These topics are also an inherent part of consortium meetings. That would not be the case if it was a project with only clinicians and scientists.”

Trust

Pieter: “You see many projects in which people create something together and then go their separate ways. But this is different. We start with a concept that can be rapidly assimilated into a product for clinical practice, but our aim is a sustainable collaboration in which we can also manage and translate more scientific challenges and continually learn from each other. That requires a foundation of trust that we are currently building. I think we will see more of these sustainable public-private collaborations in the future.” Jens: “The flip side is we need to score. If we get to the end of these projects and we graduate students and publish papers, great. But if we cannot show the world and our stakeholders that we created meaningful value and medical technology that impact patients then we have failed. That gives a different level of pressure than I think many of us are used to.” “That is precisely why it is important that we trust each other”, says Pieter. “We are on the same side, we can say anything to each other and we get there together. On that basis we can build beautiful things.”


Building bridges

Pieter Emans:
“Cartilage is composed of arc structures in order to be able to withstand the pressure, just as the structures in an arc bridge. A good collaboration must also withstand the pressure between the different interests of all parties involved. Trust and building bridges will lead to the development of sustainable products and ideas.”

Jens Thies:
“To create a medical product with cutting edge science is just about as difficult as it gets in the 21st century. It requires all the brains and commitment of all the parties and it won’t work if anyone is holding back because of trust issues.”

René van Donkelaar:
“The bridges have in fact already been built in this InSciTe project and we meet each other on top of the bridge. The challenge is to help each other cross the bridge in the best possible way. The better we understand each other, the better the product that we develop.”

SyCaP

Cartilage defects are found in 63% of arthroscopic procedures, often in middle-aged patients. Operations to restore the cartilage are often unsuccessful and provide little benefit to patients in this age range. Currently metal implants are the method of choice for the treatment of these defects. However, since the biomechanical properties of these metal implants do not correspond to those of cartilage, these implants cause a gradual increase in the amount of cartilage damage in the surrounding tissue. In addition to this, when metal implants are used MRI diagnostics can no longer be used to visualise and monitor the wound area. The aim of this project is to develop a non-resorbable implant for the treatment of cartilage defects. The biomechanical properties of the implant will be tailored to match the natural tissue and will lead to improved healing and a better clinical outcome compared to the current metal implants. Unlike the metal implants, the solutions developed here will still allow the use of non-invasive MRI imaging to monitor the healing progress.

From lab to market

“As a researcher, you don’t often get the opportunity to make the transition from the lab to the pilot plant”, says Dr. Michèle Janssen, Researcher at DSM and Project Leader of the bio-based LA2AA project. “So I am very happy that our project is now executed within the InSciTe program.” Dr. Bart van As, Business developer for InSciTe bio-based activities, is helping to bring the project a step further towards commercial success.

“Amongst other things, adipic acid is used to make nylon and as a softening agent for plastics”, explains Michèle. “It is currently being made from fossil raw materials. We would like to make it from renewable resources. We subject levulinic acid (LA) made from wood chips to chemical reactions to obtain adipic acid (AA). This is why the project is called LA2AA. We are at the point of transferring this research to the InSciTe pilot plant, which has just been completed. We can demonstrate the process on larger scale there.”

Creating value from knowledge

As project leader, Michèle ensures knowledge building based on the acquisition of high quality data. “I make sure that value is created from the knowledge brought together by DSM, Eindhoven University of Technology and Maastricht University; that the transition from lab results to pilot scale runs smoothly and that the right questions are being asked and answered.” “And it is my role to seek links with interested parties, so that ultimately the project can also become a commercial success”, adds Bart. “A project is only successful at InSciTe once knowledge is translated to value. Certain elements might be suitable to build start-up companies. It may also mean finding an interested commercial partner who would like to develop the process further, writing a business plan and providing a technology package for third parties.”

Challenges and opportunities

What are the greatest challenges and opportunities for LA2AA? Michèle: “Adipic acid is one of the main building blocks for polymer materials. There is a large existing market and it is continuing to grow steadily. So there is room for alternatives: in our case ‘greener’ alternatives. There is a great deal to do before you have a process capable of making a particular product on a sufficiently large scale and with sufficiently reliable quality, a product that the customer also wants to use. That is a big challenge if you consider that the process used to produce adipic acid from fossil raw materials exists for more than 50 years, and has therefore also been optimised over decades.”

Bart: “The opportunities are enormous, because sooner or later we will be confronted by the consequences of global warming and depletion of fossil raw materials. There is a clear drive towards a sustainable, circular economy. A project like this one can make a significant contribution to this. However, the world is accustomed to fossil fuels and it is an illusion to think that people will pay more for a bio-based product. If the bio-based product is at the same price though, it will be the preferred option. Convincing all the players in the value chain to make the change, that is a major challenge."

Future

“The proof of the pudding lies in the revenue model for bio-based adipic acid or the possible spin-offs from this project”, says Bart. “That would mean finding partners on a European and global level; certainly not confined just to Limburg.” Michèle is also thinking global, in terms of Asia or South America, for example. However, the project first needs to be further developed at InSciTe and taken forward to pilot scale. Michèle: “InSciTe offers us the opportunities to do this at InSciTe, because of the bridge created here between businesses, universities and research institutions. Using the knowledge of different partners we are able to achieve something that none of them could do alone.”


Building bridges

Dr.ir. Michèle Janssen:
“We are building bridges between business and science, and between technology and the market. But also between the founding fathers.”

Dr.ir. Bart van As:
“For bio-based we are genuinely building new bridges between partners. People are finding each other now; that is a huge additional benefit.”

LA2AA

Levulinic Acid: Building block of the future! The supply of fossil raw materials such as petroleum is being depleted. In order to secure the future availability of industrial materials, we already need to think now about renewable resources which could ensure alternative ways to access these materials. Levulinic acid, which can be made from biomass, could be a key building block for both fuel and material production. The project team investigates the possibilities to make known building blocks for materials such as polyamides, which are used in a number of applications from car parts to nylon stockings.

XS Graft

Terminal renal failure is a growing medical problem and is driving an increased demand for renal replacement therapies. For the majority of patients haemodialysis is used. In this technique the blood is purified using an artificial kidney and requires access to the bloodstream via a connection between a vein and an artery, known as an arteriovenous fistula. In a significant number of cases the arteriovenous fistula fails due to thrombosis or lack of maturation, which requires the use of a vascular prosthesis for vascular access. However, the chances of developing a vascular constriction in these prostheses are high, which can result in thrombosis and blockage. By creating a new type of prosthetic material with optimum mechanical properties and blood compatibility, we will significantly reduce the risk of vascular constrictions, prolonging and improving the function of the implant and benefiting the patient’s quality of life.

The Biomedical facility

Construction of the Chemelot InSciTe Biomedical facility began end 2014, on the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Sittard-Geleen. The biomedical facility is now operational and comprises 600 m2 of equipped, state-of-the-art open RT&D laboratories and clean rooms. The facility provides a location where researchers and companies in the biomedical and regenerative medicine field come together and collaborate on developing a range of medical devices and solutions.

The facility has been designed with flexibility in mind, to accommodate the ever changing needs of the biomedical industry. In addition to being used by InSciTe biomedical project members, the facility is available for use by third parties such as start-ups, offering an environment where entrepreneurs can continue the valorization process. There are labs for material development and biological testing, as well as dedicated areas for microscopy, chemical storage and weighing. There are also smaller project rooms which can be closed off from the main lab areas if required. The facility includes two class B cleanroom suites; restricted areas where the levels of dust and other contamination are very strictly controlled. This enables the developments in the lab to be taken through to small-scale production for pre-clinical and clinical testing.

Within the facility, InSciTe has invested in a range of cutting edge equipment to enable our projects to reach their goals. These include an electrospinning system for the production of fibrous sheets and tubes, a joint simulator for the testing of implants and an electron microscope for the visualization of materials and prototypes, as well as a variety of other equipment that the project members will use in the course of their work. Adjacent to the lab facilities we have a 250 m2 office area consisting of closed and open offices as well as conference rooms and areas for quiet working and phone calls.

Tour thought the biomedical facility on the Grand Opening of Chemelot InSciTe

The Biobased facility

Within the biobased program, Chemelot InSciTe will execute scale up experiments for the development and production of biobased building blocks. For this purpose, InSciTe will make use of pilot plant facilities that are being realized on the Brightlands Chemelot Campus. This is a multi-purpose multi-client pilot plant of which two thirds is available for InSciTe activities. This pilot plant is part of a larger complex, housing several other pilot plants. The construction of this complex started in June 2015.

The pilot plant facility that is available for InSciTe’s biobased program offers a hall of 520 m2 with a ceiling height of 12 m for experimental equipment, a corresponding laboratory space of 75 m2 and 130 m2 of office space. Two offices, with 8-10 working spaces in total, are reserved for the exclusive use of InSciTe co-workers. The piloting hall is designed in such a way that it creates maximal flexibility in working with a broad range of chemicals and reactive gases. All experiments will be executed by experienced operators. InSciTe co-workers will be present and define the experimental program. The first InSciTe project to start experimentation is the LA2AA project. Three experimental set-ups, so called skids, are ready to be used for this project: a gas phase reactor skid with four reactors in series for heterogeneous catalytic gas phase reactions; an autoclave skid for continuous homogeneous catalysis reactions with a distillation and membrane separation section, and a multi-purpose distillation unit for atmospheric and vacuum distillation. In addition the world’s first pilot plant based on SpinPro technology (spinning disc reactor and extractor from Flowid bv) was built with the support of the 2015 OP-Zuid project “Spin-In”. This ‘Spin-in’ prototype will be used by InSciTe to develop and produce new biobased building blocks within the InSciTe Horizontal project. Additional sets of equipment for the InSciTe Lignin RICHES and Horizontal projects as well as the recently awarded OP-Zuid project “SCeLiO-4B” are currently being designed.

Altogether, with this multi-purpose, multi-client pilot plant we create the necessary bridge to really bring concepts further towards business opportunity and market introduction.

Intellectual Property guidelines training

23 participants in 2015

The Intellectual Property guidelines trainings within InSciTe aim to educate scientists in matters of Intellectual Property with the view of interacting with legal experts, identifying the legal landscape of relevant research and potential inventions in one’s own work, and how to proceed to patenting. Especially in the context of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in general and InSciTe specifically, a basic understanding of handling of IP, confidentiality, freedom to operate and value extraction is required to mitigate risks in complex collaborations.

“Vivid style”
“This course created a lot of awareness”

Regulatory awareness training

23 participants in 2015

The regulatory awareness training builds basic awareness on regulatory issues and approval pathways related to the development and commercialisation of projects via real live examples and interactive discussions about how to handle and plan those activities during a project.

“Nice open atmosphere”
“The training is in particular relevant for the PhD students and Postdocs, this type of training is missing in academia”

Good Manufacturing Practice training

11 participants in 2015

Within the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) training, researchers are introduced into the general concepts related to GMP. It helps the participants to gain basic GMP knowledge, with focus on "technical" GMP aspects. After taking this course the participants will be aware of the consequences and impact of the choices they make during the process of developing a clinical product, regarding the enforcement of GMP during commercial production.

“Really necessary for R&D people coming from a university”
“This course provides insights applicable to multiple practical disciplines”

Statistics

2015 was the first fully operational year for InSciTe. “A year full of challenges, but also successes”, explains InSciTe’s Managing Director Dr. Emiel Staring. “Everything we do is new. We are walking on new ground. This means we must be creative and continually explain to others what our ambitions are and where we are headed. We did a good job of this in 2015 and have laid the foundations for a promising future.”

Partners

Financing


Partners

Number of partners in 2015

Budgets

Allocated project budgets

BioBased

Hours allocated

Biomedical

Hours allocated

BioBased

FTE's consumed

Biomedical

FTE's consumed

Education & Training

Number of courses in 2015

Education & Training

Distribution of participants