The Finnish Research Impact Foundation’s new funding scheme gives professors the opportunity to spend one year working on their research with an industry partner, in an industry environment. Professor of Drug Design Antti Poso at the School of Pharmacy of the University of Eastern Finland is one of the three new professors to receive the funding.
The Tandem Industry Academia Professor (“TIA Professor”) funding scheme gives professors the opportunity to focus on their own research work and to leverage companies’ expertise and resources.
During their funding term TIA professors spend a period equivalent to one full year working in facilities provided by the business partner. The funding may be spread out over a maximum of three years. The purpose of the funding scheme is to support collaborations between industry and research organizations and to give professors first-hand knowledge about relevant areas of research interest in industry. Projects may involve joint precompetitive research and other supportive activities.
Professor Poso secured a funding of 166 288 euros for a partnership with Orion Pharma. He says his TIA professorship will allow him not only to advance his own research but also to supervise his students in such a way that their research has greater impact outside of academia. “Ultimately we get to improve people’s health.”
“In practice the only way to bring new drugs within the reach of patients is via industry. This collaboration will allow us to combine theoretical expertise with hands-on practical experience – and in this way support and promote research in this field and bolster the success of business companies,” Poso explains.
Drug development can be considered successful if it produces effective, safe and ethically responsible medical therapies. Working closely with industry is imperative to ensure that patients gain access to these new medicines. The joint project Professor Antti Poso and the Finnish pharmaceutical leader Orion Pharma addresses the utility and applicability of new AI and machine learning methods as well and quantum mechanics and molecular mechanics modelling methods in industrial drug discovery. The platform for the collaboration is provided by Orion’s research infrastructure, but the results will also be made available to academic drug research. The project will also be working to develop computational chemistry methods for use in new quantum computers. If successful, the project may significantly improve the efficiency of drug development in both academia and industry.
At its 17 November 2023 meeting the FRIF Board decided to award TIA Professor funding to three new professors. In addition to Professor Antti Poso, funding was awarded to Professor Roope Raisamo from Tampere University in partnership with Nokia Technologies, and to Research Professor Ari Väänänen from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, in partnership with Terveystalo Healthcare.
In all, nine professors have received TIA Professor grants since the scheme was launched in 2002.
For more details on these projects, go to https://www.vaikuttavuussaatio.fi/en/funded-projects/