New Brno-based life sciences centre opens up for business
Brno – Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas has officially inaugurated the first of six European Technology Institutes slated to be launched in the Czech Republic with help from European FEDER funds. Although construction of the €200m Central European Institute of Technology (CEITEC) will not be complete until 2014, the life sciences research centre – made up of ten facilities – has already begun operations. Following a workshop with EMBL researchers, CEITEC deputy director Ondrej Hradil announced in mid-November that the center has already been approached with several proposals for cooperation in the fields of bioinformatics, innovative sequencing techniques and development of new methods of advanced optical microscopy. Up to now, the Czech Republic has not been an EMBL member country, but CEITEC would support negotiations on its membership. Earlier in November, CEITEC ordered four ultra-high field AVANCETM NMR systems from Bruker, which will make it the premier biological NMR research facility in Central and Eastern Europe. “High-field NMR spectroscopy will be combined with other progressive high-resolution methods of structural analysis here such as single-crystal X-ray diffraction, high-end cryo-electron microscopy and tomography, and an atomic force microscopy for understanding of the vital cellular processes,” said Vladimir Sklenar, the Structural Biology Programme Coordinator at CEITEC.
Boost for biotech clusters
Bringing Brno-based research institutes into the CEITEC cluster is part of a more general governmental initiative aimed at creating big research hubs that attract foreign investment and companies. According to the Prague Post, CEITEC is already in discussions with 100 companies that want to pursue research at the site.
The other sites scheduled for opening are also designed to boost biotechnology in the Czech Republic. Along with CEITEC, Prague is aiming to launch an International Clinical Research Centre (ICRC), a Biotechnology and Biomedicine Research Centre (BIOCEV), a Sustainable Energy Centre (SUSEN), an Information Technology for Innovations (IT4I) hub, and an Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) cluster. 70% of the costs will be covered by state or EU funding, the rest is to be funded by private investors.