The Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials has a significant number of scientific collaborators across the world and throughout many facets of research related to biomaterials. The NFB Strategic Research Cluster (SRC) was set up in 2007 with funding from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) to research and develop an advanced and extensive research programme targeted at specific biomedical applications.
Since its formation NFB has realised the importance of forging meaningful links with industry and continues to partner and engage with many of the medical device, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology industry’s world leading companies both at home and abroad. The main services NFB offers to industry include: development of unique biomaterial platform technologies, adding value to existing platforms, development of custom–made biomaterials, trouble-shooting biomaterial-based issues in medical devices, in vitro / in vivo studies and developing biomaterials for drug delivery. Our approach is to find a solution to any biomaterials related questions which our industry partners approach us with. NFB routinely engages with thirteen industry partners who are committed to cost sharing as part of our Strategic Research Cluster. In the course of our activities we are engaging with over 100 companies both nationally and internationally. Through IDA initiatives NFB is currently partnering with Covidien on three separate research projects in the biomaterials space.
NFB has academic collaborators in programmes which are funded through other organisations including the European Union (EU), the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), the AO Research Foundation (AO), the Irish Research Council Science Engineering and Technology Programme (IRCSET), the Higher Education Authority (HEA), the Health Research Board (HRB), the Wellcome Trust, DEBRA and Enterprise Ireland (EI) amongst others. The NFB represents an academic-industry-clinician partnership with the ultimate goal of translating biomaterial-based technologies to the clinic to affect significant advances in patient care. Since its foundation the NFB has established itself as a dynamic research centre interested in exploring collaborative opportunities with other internationally renowned experts and institutions and regulatory agencies which are synergistic in nature. These collaborations encompass the fields of regenerative medicine, drug delivery, cell biology, molecular biology, translational research and related enabling technologies to name but a few. These collaborations cover the areas of neural (peripheral, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease), musculoskeletal (intervertebral disc (nucleus pulposus and annulus fibrosus)), cardiovascular (myocardial infarction and heart valves), pulmonary (acute respiratory distress syndrome and acute lung injury), soft tissue (diabetic wound healing, Epidermolysis Bullosa, tendon, hernia, laparoscopic surgery) and hard tissue (bone, cartilage, rheumatoid arthritis) to name but a few.
NFB has shown a great deal of success in securing EU projects. Currently five EU projects are underway with NFB coordinating four of these. NFB is a participant in the EU FP7 funded 'Disc Regeneration' programme. This research aims to develop therapies for intervertebral disc disease which affects more than 40% of European adults at some stage during their lives. The NFB coordinated grants include diverse projects which include an EU-FP7 project entitled ‘Targeting Hernia Operation Using Sustainable Resources and Green Nanotechnologies’, this project aims to develop a novel mesh for use in hernia operations. In 2010 an NFB-led consortium was successful with a proposal in the EU FP7 Industry Academia Partnership and People (IAPP) programme. The proposal, entitled ‘Targeting Functional Tendon Regeneration Using a Loaded Biomimetic Scaffold. An Integrated Pan-European Approach,’ was one of the highest ranked under the Life Sciences scheme. In 2012, NFB again successfully secured two additional EU funded projects, one, an EU-FP7 grant programme under the Marie Curie Initial Training Network of which the official project title is ‘Development of Biomaterial-based Delivery Systems for Ischemic Conditions - An Integrated Pan-European Approach’. This project will fund research into ischemic conditions. The second successfully led project is an EU –FP7 Health grant to develop a ‘bioartificial organ’ for the repair of spinal cord injuries.