Russian and Dutch academia tie-up accelerates stem cell research

russian_dutch_stem_cell_researchThe Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech), the University Medical Centre Groningen in the Netherlands and the Russian Vavilov Institute of General Genetics have set up the first Center for Research, Education and Innovation (CREI) in Moscow.

This academia tie-up positions both countries as leaders in stem cell technology and there will be strong financial support for the CREI from the Russian government to commercialise the resultant research. This is the fist of 15 five-year long research projects to be founded by 2020 and possess a total budget of $675 million.

The 2012 Nobel Prize was awarded to John Gurdon in the UK and Shinya Yamanak in Japan for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent (stem cells), and Skoltech has engaged one of the world’s leading experts in cancer and molecular genetics to oversee the project.

“At Skoltech we are building a university from the ground up in a unique way, dedicated to translating research to real impact in the commercial world. We have convinced a world leader in the field to move to Moscow to start the Center and we are really excited to have attracted him,” said Edward Crawley, President of Skoltech.

The news follows recent Russian commercial partnerships with corporations such as Cisco, IBM, Siemens and Rosneft that have all invested in Skolkovo. These blue-chip companies were recently joined at the end of 2012 by Samsung who signed an agreement to set up a R&D centre in Moscow.

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Monty Munford has more than 15 years' experience in mobile, digital media, web and journalism. He is the founder of Mob76, a company that helps tech companies raise money and exit. He speaks regularly at global media events with a focus on Africa, writes a weekly column for The Telegraph, is a regular contributor to The Economist, Wired, Mashable and speaks regularly on the BBC World Service.