- UPF Ventures took part in 4YFN, at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona. This event allowed us to introduce Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) and UPF Group researchers, as well as our current projects, to participants at this major trade fair.
- The following people took part in this three-day event:
- UPF Ventures project leaders (DisGeNET, BIOM, LUCID, noctuRNA, Uni-Large, MiWendo, Targeted Nanomedicine and NeedleSafe)
- UPF researchers from all faculties (Political and Social Sciences, Economics, Information and Communications Technology, Life Sciences, Language Sciences, etc.)
- The Iniciativa Ciutadella del Coneixement (Ciutadella Knowledge Initiative) Director
- Representatives of other UPF Group institutions (Elisava, Barcelona School of Management and TecnoCampus)
- The research projects we presented are designed for society, and from a social perspective. Which is why they generate knowledge while helping to make the world a better place and creating socio-economic returns.
UPF Venture project leaders
Ferran Sanz, Principal Investigator, DisGeNET
- DisGeNET is a database that establishes connections between illnesses and genes, and has produced over 600,000 matches. This makes it the database with the highest number of matches in its class.
- Such work is extremely interesting, as it provides information about which part of the body predisposes us to particular diseases.
- Over the past ten years, we have collected all the available information about which genes are related to specific illnesses, using software to perform a computational analysis of scientific literature.
Javier Macía, Principal Investigator, BIOM
- This project aims to provide an alternative to the current human and animal waste treatment system.
- The proposal is based on two key aspects: environmental and financial sustainability. Which is why we have developed a platform that combines a series of chemical-biotech treatments that allows us to process waste and obtain various bi-products with different qualities at different processing stages.
- Each of these bi-products has a direct market application and therefore market potential. This generates a financial return that automatically makes the decontamination process sustainable.
José María Rojano, Project Manager, LUCID
- LUCID is an app that allows you to process images dynamically, i.e. frame by frame. This allows us to make filmed images as similar as possible to those created by the human eye.
- He notes his app is available to anyone who would like to use it.
Juana Díez, Principal Investigator, noctuRNA
- At noctuRNA, we are creating a new RNA based therapy to develop broad-spectrum antivirals capable of treating currently incurable mosquito-borne diseases. These are all emerging diseases like Dengue, Zika, Chikungunya, etc.
- The total annual number of infections is currently around 400 million. These diseases lead to very severe symptoms including encephalitis and haemorrhagic fevers.
- Our team has developed a very broad-spectrum molecule, which means you can start treating the disease before you have obtained a diagnosis.
Avencia Sánchez-Mejías, Senior Investigator, Uni-Large
- Uni-Large is a gene-editing platform that combines several proteins to safely insert large genes into the genome.
- This both avoids the harmful effects of gene editing and expands the range of illnesses for which this therapy can be used.
Marta Guardiola, MiWEndo Project Leader
- MiWEndo is developing a medical device to improve the early detection of colorectal cancer. This device allows us to integrate microwave imaging with conventional optical colonoscopies.
- It can be attached to the distal end of a conventional colonoscope and allows physicians to detect polyps (pre-cancerous lesions) semi-automatically.
- Colonoscopes currently present viewing issues that result in 22% of polyps being overlooked. Automating the detection process using microwave technology could improve early polyp detection.
Pilar Rivera, Principal Investigator, Targeted Nanomedicine for Oncology Management
- TheTargeted Nanomedicine for Oncology Management project is working on validating a marker expressed exclusively in specific tumours (including pancreatic, pulmonary and ovarian tumours).
- By combining this marker with nanotechnology, we can create a nanocapsule to carry the drug used to treat the tumour. This same nanocapsule will also enable diagnostic imaging with computed tomography (a CT scan).
- The technology is being validated on pancreatic cancer, and can be transferred to other tumours that positively express the same marker.
Quim Castellví, Project Leader, NeedleSafe
- NeedleSafe is a medical technology that fights the bacterial infections currently affecting clinical practice. Specifically, it focuses on avoiding post-biopsy infections, as these punches often lead to infections.
- NeedleSafe technology releases nanoparticles of silver that produce a long-lasting anti-bacterial effect.
- The project started working on prostate biopsies, as this procedure presents a higher infection rate.
Representatives of the various UPF departments
Núria Bel, Vice-dean, Faculty of Translation and Applied Language
- The Department of Translation and Applied Languages presents its lines of research: ten research groups work on different aspects of language, which is, ultimately, the most effective communication system.
- Many of its researchers focus on translation and multi-lingual content generation.
- They also investigate problems identified in cognitive disorders and illnesses: the language used in therapeutic applications for disabled people.
- The department has also worked with businesses to research the automation of specific tasks that require language modelling, for example user comment classification.
Frederic Guerrero-Solé, Deputy Director, Department of Communication
- The Communications Department promotes and fostering three new lines of complementary research: robotics, virtual reality and media psychology. All three have a strong focus on experimental and applied research.
- Our media psychology research aims to highlight important social issues, such as voice modulation in Alzheimer’s patients or other questions in which communication can have a direct social impact.
Mariano Torcal, Representative, Political and Social Sciences DepartmentResearch and Expertise Centre for Survey Methodology (RECSM)
- RECSM is primarily dedicated to studying (specifically public opinion) survey methodologies.
- The centre’s most innovative division is trying to generate data that combines survey information with big data, to gain a deeper understanding of public opinion on all kinds of social and political issues.
- The centre also enjoys links with various international projects.
Regina López, Project ManagerDepartment of Experimental and Health Sciences
- Technology transfer is a fundamental aspect of the Department of Experimental and Health Sciences’ work.
- For example, some projects that recently achieved international financing and will have a major social impact are focused on: gene therapy, muscular regeneration, chemical reaction engineering, vaccine development or pain and addiction therapy.
Carmen Buisan, Promoter, Department of Information and Communications Technologies and Ana Sagardoy, Technology Transfer Coordinator, UPF Business Shuttle.
The Iniciativa Ciutadella del Coneixement (Ciutadella Knowledge Initiative) Director
Francesc Subirada, Director of UPF’s Iniciativa la Ciutadella del Coneixement, and former Generalitat de Cataluña (Government of Catalonia) Director General of Research.
- Ciutadella del Coneixement is a Barcelona City Council Initiative that reinforces the city’s research and innovation ecosystem. This academic and scientific project aims to unite the Ciutadella city park area with the sea, making it a centre for knowledge. UPF is involved because of the proximity of its Campus Mar (Sea Campus) and Campus de la Ciutadella (Ciutadella Campus).
- In this vein, the Mercat del Peix (Fish Market) is a space that the UPF makes available to other organisations, to allow us to work together on promoting knowledge, especially where this is related to the university’s core subjects: social sciences, humanities, communication and life sciences.
- This first Mercat del Peix initiative aims to become a benchmark for the kind of work that the Ciutadella del Coneixement should carry out.
Representatives of other UPF Group institutions
- Luz Fernández, Campus Services Manager (TecnoCampus)
- Laura Clèries, Coordinator of Research, Elisava
- Jean de la Fournié, Careers Service (UPF Barcelona School of Management)
- Clara Kirchner, Alumni and Corporate Relations Director (UPF Barcelona School of Management)
Every speech shared a common outlook. Beyond being part of the Pompeu Fabra University Community, all those present were concerned about society and the potential social impact of their work. Which is why it’s important to give this kind of projects a voice, as they reveal our society’s future.