The Barrié Foundation currently finances five scientific research projects, to which it has dedicated one and a half million euros from its Science Investment Fund, created in 2011 for the purpose of promoting world-class research, transferring science and technology research outcomes to society at large, and opening up public scientific and R&D programmes to private funding by supporting the creation of investment opportunities based on scientific and technological developments. To this end the Fund invests in the stages of evaluation, concept trialling and commercialisation of scientific and technological outcomes from the Galician research system with commercial and profit-making potential, led by scientists and researches with a proven track record.
In these projects the Foundation takes the role of a strategic partner in areas such as the evaluation of results, their commercial exploitation and bringing them to the attention of society at large. The Foundation is committed to providing venture capital for the best science being produced in Galicia and to ensuring its effective transfer to society, and is therefore willing to share experience and knowledge with other players in the research and scientific ecosystem with the desire to innovate.
Projects with the University of A Coruña. On 3 October 2011 the Foundation committed itself to investing in two research projects at the University of A Coruña:
The Computer Architecture Group (CAG)’s High Performance Computing for High Performance Trading (HPC4HPT) project, in the Information and Communication Technology (ITC) field.
The aim of this project in the Information and Communication Technology (ITC) fieldis the exploitation and industrial transfer of software solutions (known as Java Fast Sockets and High Performance Message Passing Java implementation) that fully exploit the theoretical possibilities of high performance infrastructures, of interest to sectors where maximising communication performance is of strategic importance. Potential areas of use include the energy, defence, telecommunications, aerospace and financial industries. The project is initially focused towards the latter sector, and more specifically to the development of computer systems for financial transactions in which the transmission and processing of a high volume of data in the shortest possible time (High Performance Trading) is a competitive advantage. The leaders of this project, all of whom are university lecturers and members of the University of A Coruña’s Computer Architecture Group, are Ramón Doallo (the CAG’s coordinator), Juan Touriño and Guillermo López. U.S. patents have recently been applied for, and are still pending.
The BIO-alfa GalProject, a biotechnology project run by the Genetic Expression in Yeasts and Applications Group (EXPRELA).
The goal of the BIO-alfa Gal project is the exploitation and industrial transfer of products related with the use of alpha-galactosidase, a protein that can catalyse reactions of interest to industry. Its main applications include the hydrolysis of complex carbohydrates, of use in the food, pharmaceutical or bio-energy industries. The group has succeeded in developing strains that are highly efficient in producing alpha-galactosidase with greater catalytic activity and stability than those currently on the market. The project was initially aimed at the bio-energy industry, and more particularly at bio-ethanol production. EXPRELA is a research group consisting of six lecturers in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of A Coruña, assisted by interns and researchers and technicians contracted with project funds. The senior researchers working on this project are Manuel Becerra, María Isabel González Siso and María Esperanza Cerdán.
Projects with the University of Santiago de Compostela. Two further projects were incorporated into the Science Investment Fund on 6 June 2012:
Controlling the spread of circulating tumour cells (CTCs), a project led by the Translational Oncology Laboratory Group (CHUS), the Medical Oncology Service (CHUS), the Cell Cycle and Oncology Group (USC) and the Nano BioFar Group (USC).
The aim of the project is to develop a system for interfering with the spread of the so-called circulating tumour cells (CTCs), which are responsible for metastatic cancer, the main cause of cancer-related deaths. This is a solution that complements current therapies, increasing their efficiency. The project is led by the Translational Oncology Laboratory and the Medical Oncology Service at the Santiago de Compostela University Hospital Complex (CHUS), with the participation of the Cell Cycle and Oncology and NanoBioFar Research Groups at the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC). Nowadays cancer can often be cured whilst the disease is still localised, using a combination of surgery, radiotherapy and systemic treatment. However, when the tumour cells begin to spread or metastasise to other organs or tissues, it becomes much more difficult to manage the patient. This process of metastasis is the main cause of cancer-related death and is the most significant factor in any prognosis. The goal of this project is to control the spread of the so-called circulating tumour cells (CTCs) that are the cause of the process of metastasis, making it possible to treat the patient as if the disease were still localised. In such a scenario the combination of surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy could prove to be as effective as it currently is when treating a localised tumour.
Quorum Quenching, a USC Biotechnology and Aquaculture Group project.
The project aims to validate, by means of field trials in the aquaculture sector, an alternative mechanism to the use of antibiotics for treating infections, by degrading bacterial signalling molecules, thereby reducing the virulence of their attacks and making it easier for the immune system to destroy them. The virulence of many pathogenic bacteria, including major human and animal pathogens, depends on the secretion into the environment of small signalling molecules that permit bacterial cell-cell communication. This mechanism, which allows the pathogens to coordinate their attack, has been baptised with the term “quorum sensing”. Intercepting these signals reduces the level of virulence of the pathogens, facilitating the efforts of the immune system to combat the infection. This anti-pathogenic interference mechanism, known as “quorum quenching”, is an interesting alternative to the use of antibiotics to control infectious bacterial diseases, its advantage being that by blocking the virulence of a pathogen instead of killing it, no resistance is created. The USC has isolated and used patent applications to protect two bacterial strains capable of degrading a wide range of Quorum Sensing signals, and are therefore of potential use in the prevention and/or treatment of infectious diseases in both humans and animals.
Project with GRADIANT. Vigo
A Cloud Computing Security Project.
Security is nowadays the key challenge for the success of cloud-based solutions. The objective of this project is to offer a series of privacy solutions in Cloud Computing environments by enhancing security and avoiding it having to depend on user confidence in a service provider. These solutions range from developing a plugin for web browsers that enables the encryption of texts shared in the cloud through GoogleDocs, to cloud data processing in the encrypted domain, taking in the use of cryptoprocessor technology on the way. The resulting solutions will respect the basic principles of cloud computing: scalability, flexibility and resource optimisation, with business transfer in mind.