Over 80 participants from industry and academia gathered in Barcelona on 6-7 June for the ELIXIR Innovation and SME forum. Hosted by ELIXIR Spain, the two-day event showcased successful companies making use of public bioinformatics resources, and presented free bioinformatics resources available through ELIXIR and ELIXIR Spain.
The programme included presentations of ELIXIR and ELIXIR Spain resources as well as companies and SMEs active in bioinformatics, genomics and health research. Three keynotes each presented different aspects of working with open data in life science research: Roderic Guigo from the Centre for Genomics Regulations (part of ELIXIR Spain) gave a general overview of the Open data in genomics including the European Genome-phenome Archive; Ferran Sanz from the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute showed several examples of how bioinformatics can support pharmaceutical research; and David Henderson from Bayer AG talked about reuse of biomedical data in pharmaceutical research. Colm Carroll from the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) presented some of the future funding opportunities in this area.
Participants also took part in two workshop sessions to learn about ELIXIR’s Human data activities, bioinformatics training support and key IMI projects including OpenPhacts, eTRIKS and New Drugs for Bad Bugs (ND4BB).
Innovation happens at the interface of industry and academia
The programme also featured a series of flash talks organised by Biocat, the biotechnology cluster in Catalonia. They presented a range of companies and SMEs from across Europe and how they use big data in biomedical research. The common theme across all talks was that open data and public bioinformatics resources are the cornerstone of industrial research in bioinformatics.
“Research in industry and academia have different drivers and constraints, but they are bound to collaborate,” says Abel Ureta-Vidal, CEO of Eagle Genomics, who took part in our panel discussion. “The challenge for us at Eagle Genomics is always to identify where the relevant and valuable data is available in the public domain, that once combined with our customers’ proprietary data, enables the discovery of new insights. These discoveries are impossible in isolation. The complementarity and synergy between public and proprietary data is what accelerates the development of new products, be it new medicines, new cosmetic products, or new functional foods. To facilitate this further, ELIXIR is nurturing an environment where actors from industry, large and small, can interact with academia, exchange ideas and more importantly facilitate access to vital biological resources: only when the flow of data is truly open and seamless does real innovation happen, and nowhere more than at the intersection of academia and industry.” concludes Abel.
The ELIXIR Innovation and SME programme will continue in October in Brussels focusing on Food, Nutrition and the Microbiome and in November in Paris on Rare Diseases and Orphaned Drugs.