The Austrian Research Promotion Agency FFG is funding three MedUni Vienna projects as part of its "Spin-off Fellowships" program. Each project is supported by 500,000 euros, providing an opportunity to launch scientific product innovations into companies.
The “Spin-off Fellowships” funding programme offers innovative people with an entrepreneurial spirit the opportunity to develop their invention at their university or research institution for up to 18 months so that a company can then be founded. The funding can be used to finance salary costs and ensure access to academic infrastructures so that researchers can use their time exclusively for developing their business ideas. The funding amounts to a maximum of 500,000 euros. "With Spin-off Fellowships, we are specifically strengthening the exploitation of innovative ideas and promoting entrepreneurship at universities and research institutions," said Education, Science and Research Minister Martin Polaschek in a statement. The following three MedUni Vienna projects - and thus a third of the nine funded university projects in Austria - were selected for funding by an international jury:
Title: AMERICA (Advanced modular software engines for precision molecular imaging)
Fellow: Lalith Shiyam Kumar Sundar, Centre for Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering at MedUni Vienna
Host: Thomas Beyer, Centre for Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering at MedUni Vienna
The project seeks to develop software for rapid image processing in the context of personalised diagnostics. Molecular imaging methods (e.g. PET/CT) will be used, and synthetic data will also be generated for the AI-supported creation of diagnostic prediction models. The goal is to enable clinical experts to interpret patient images more quickly and accurately with the assistance of this new technology. The project provides realistic, artificially generated imaging datasets to support providers' AI solutions while enabling computer vision (ECV) technology. Following the funding period components for industrially-driven software products from international manufacturers will have been designed. The project is supported by international mentors from the start-up sector, healthcare and digital technologies.
Title: CRC-OC-OV (An oncolytic influenza A virus adapted to primary organotypic cultures of a CRC patient cohort via directed evolution)
Fellow: Julijan Kabiljo, University Department of General Surgery at MedUni Vienna
Co-Fellow: Jakob Homola, University Department of General Surgery at MedUni Vienna
Host: Michael Bergmann, University Department of General Surgery at MedUni Vienna
The project aims to develop novel oncolytic influenza A virus vectors for the treatment of colorectal cancer. The Fellows will use a new strategy to develop viral vectors through directed evolution by exposing them to primary ex vivo cultures of patients' tumours. This is a potential breakthrough step in the development of highly specific and potent oncolytic agents with the aim of significantly improving the efficacy of cancer virotherapy and reducing its side effects.
Title: Neonatal IO access (Innovative intraosseous drill: NeON (Neonatal IntraOsseous Needle) for safe use in newborn emergencies)
Fellow: Raquel Brandao Haga Jäger, University Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at MedUni Vienna
Host: Eva Schwindt, University Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at MedUni Vienna
Inventors: Eva Schwindt and Ewald Unger from the Centre for Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering at MedUni Vienna
Intraosseous access is a safe method of administering drugs directly into the bone in emergency situations. However, there is considerable reluctance to use such emergency drills in neonates. The main difficulty is to avoid damaging the back of the bone, which is very small in neonates, during the drilling process. The user must stop manually as soon as the medullary canal of the bone is reached. If the applied medication leaks into the surrounding tissue, amputation may be necessary in the worst case and the life-saving medication will not reach the child's circulation. For this reason, a new type of intraosseous drill was developed at MedUni Vienna that has a sensor-controlled, automated self-stop mechanism and automatically stops the drilling process as soon as the medullary canal of the bone is reached.