The Core Facility is currently available at two locations on the Krems campus. It is jointly operated by IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems (IMC), Karl Landsteiner Private University for Health Sciences (KL) and the University of Continuing Education Krems (UCEK) and used for research tasks. The Core Facility is equipped with state-of-the-art large-scale equipment. The use of new analytical methods and the possibility of visualisation in bioimaging and cell analytics allow addressing new questions.
Prof.(FH) Dr. Karl Ennsfellner, Managing Director of IMC Krems, is pleased about the fruitful cooperation: “The Core Facility enables the universities at the Krems Campus to use synergy effects and close cooperation in research. This will make the location attractive for top researchers and innovative companies in the field of biotechnology and strengthen it in the long term.”
In total, the Core Facility comprises more than 30 devices, including for example an electron microscope with highest resolution, a confocal laser scanning microscope, flow cytometers and a cell sorter, nanoparticle tracking analysis, static and dynamic material testing machines, tissue preparation, a CNC portal milling machine and a MicroCT system. The range of research topics covers bioimaging and cell analysis, bone & tissue engineering and inflammation and material compatibility as a cross-cutting theme.
The Core Facility, which opened in 2018, serves to expand the range of methods and to support the existing connection to international medical research and medical technology research. In addition, the Core Facility contributes to deepening the cooperation between the three scientific institutions located at the Krems Campus: IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems, KL and UCEK. It enables young researchers to be trained at the highest level and research as part of the PhD studies at the University of Continuing Education Krems, especially in the PhD study programme Regenerative Medicine. Likewise, it facilitates cooperation between the scientific institutions on campus, other universities in Austria and companies.
The Core Facility was officially opened in 2018 and financed in an initial funding phase with around 3.2 million euros by the State of Lower Austria and the Lower Austrian Health and Social Fund (NÖGUS). Since 2018, around 50 research projects have been carried out with the help of the Core Facility. In addition to the State of Lower Austria, funding providers included EU Horizon 2020, EU Interreg, the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) and the Christian Doppler Research Association (CDG). Around 120 scientific publications in international, peer-reviewed journals and numerous lectures and poster presentations resulted from this. In the cooperative projects of the partner institutions of the Core Facility, the respective expertise of the partners, which has been successfully established over the past years, is put to use. The translational character of the research is essential, i.e. the combination of basic research and (clinical) applicability.
The outstanding research projects in which IMC Krems is or was involved include “Development of powerful diagnostic methods and new therapeutic approaches in inflammation and sepsis” (2021-2027) and “Sustainable biological recycling of environmentally hazardous substances (rare earth elements) from electronic waste and water”. Another cooperative project in preparation is the submission of UCEK and IMC to the FWF doc.funds.connect programme. This new FWF funding line supports the development of cooperative doctoral programmes between universities and universities of applied sciences. A project for a PhD programme on “Inflammation at the CrossRoads of Degeneration and Regeneration” has been submitted. Another project at IMC Krems should not go unmentioned: “Viral and Fungal Infections”. The aim of this research project is to systematise and scientifically process potential drug targets in the infection setting of immunocompromised patients.
Second funding phase
In the REACT-EU infrastructure call (IWB/EFRE/ “Recovery Assistance for Cohesion and the Territories of Europe”, or REACT-EU for short), all three institutions – IMC, KL and UCEK – were awarded the project, which was submitted under the leadership of IMC Krems. This ensures additional funding for the Core Facility infrastructure of around 1.24 million euros until the end of 2022. Among other things, it will be used to procure a device for visualising thick tissue. REACT-EU was launched by the EU and provided with “fresh funds” to intensify research in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The systematic expansion of the technical equipment requirements of the Core Facility in Krems is intended to increase the critical mass of biomedical researchers and technological know-how at the Krems Campus. This will make Krems more attractive as a biotechnology location as a whole and enable further companies and highly qualified scientists to settle here. The expansion of the Core Facility also favours the cooperation of the Krems universities with the biotechnology companies located at the Krems site.
“By supporting basic research, we promote the entire research output at the location, use infrastructure, synergies and cooperation with companies,” says Prof. Ennsfellner. “Translational and applied research complement the spectrum and ensure that impulses are exchanged in all directions. One of the strengths of IMC Krems, its international orientation and networking, benefits the research projects – and vice versa: Krems is also gaining international significance as a location through the Core Facility.”