Big Data And Disease Patterns For A Cross-Border Platform Valid For Industries


How is it possible to combine the development of diagnostic and therapeutic solutions with the analysis of massive quantity of data in a cross-border framework?

TRAIN is the answer. TRAIN combines synergistically big data and disease patterns for creating a cross-border platform composed of validated kits useful to biomedical companies.

Operating under the aegis of the European cross-border cooperation, TRAIN is a project funded by Interreg V-A Italy-Slovenia Programme that responds to the first thematic objective (OT) of the Programme, which is aimed at strengthening research, technological development and innovation.

The six partners comprise highly qualified Italian and Slovenian research institutes, universities and companies. The total budget amounts to € 1.243.702,22, of which 1.057.146,89 from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The project duration is scheduled at 30 months with the end set for March 2020.

The main objective of the project is to enhance cooperation among key biomedical entities in order to create a service platform based on an innovative combination of two biomedical disciplines (cell biology and large-volume data analysis) within the context of cardiac and neuroinflammatory diseases, problems associated with difficult wounds, and other potential pathologies, thus increasing competitiveness in the biomedical research sector. In fact, the project tackles the challenge to strengthen synergies among research institutes and companies in order to accelerate innovation through technology transfer between these key entities.

TRAIN conducts interdisciplinary research studies with new technologies, and the project partners (PPs) consist of two

leading research institutes, one training institution, one biomedical small and medium enterprise (SME), and two clusters of biotech companies (1). The purpose is to combine the current expertise in biomedicine (Italy) and bioinformatics (Slovenia) in order to improve the diagnosis and treatment of various diseases, with the goal of accelerating technology transfer from research to the industrial sector, thanks to the creation of kits to be made available to biomedical companies for developing new biopharmaceutical drugs. The cross-border approach is crucial as a greater scientific, economic and social impact can only be achieved through the combination of complementary forms of expertise found within the Programme area. The project is innovative because, for the first time in a cross-border context, two distinct areas of research are brought together to develop ready-to-use kits for professionals operating in the biomedical sector, thereby increasing the marketing potential and use throughout the cross-border area.

The Lead Partner (LP) of this challenging project is the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) (2).

Established under the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the ICGEB is a unique, autonomous, intergovernmental organization with biotech labs in Italy, India and South Africa, and an extensive network of 66 Member States. Headquartered in Trieste, it operates as a centre of excellence for research, training and technology transfer to industry to promote sustainable global development. In fact, the noble mandate of ICGEB is to promote the conscious use of biotechnology in developing countries and to increase awareness of biosafety and bioethics across the globe. The winning strategy at ICGEB is to train highly qualified personnel from Member States who return to their nations to implement and boost research, thus potentiating and valorizing talents in their countries. In essence, ICGEB generates global opportunities for cooperation serving UN SDGs and the Europe 2020 Strategy for Smart Growth.

In this framework of excellence, ICGEB offers a relevant opportunity to TRAIN. Serena Zacchigna (LP project manager and Head of the Cardiovascular Biology Group at ICGEB) and her team, work synergistically to find innovative therapies for the regeneration of cardiac tissue and blood vessels. They use highly specialized technologies such as high-content microscopes, and a robotic high throughput screening platform generating bulk information, to be analyzed and stored as processed data. In this specific context, cooperation is an evident balance of competencies and key-roles played by different skilled PPs in order to combine research to data analysis. In response to this, the project involves the scientific excellence offered by research centres (ICGEB and the Institut “Jožef Stefan”), and the Experteam partner company; the ability to collect data and capitalize on the results offered by the two clusters located respectively in Slovenia (Ljubljana Technology Park) and Italy (Biovalley Investment S.p.a.) and the experience in advanced training of researchers and professionals in the biomedical sector offered by the Mednarodna podiplomska šola Jožefa Stefana. Thanks to years of experience in their respective fields, the TRAIN PPs strengthen and combine research for technological development and biomedical innovation. Indeed, they aspire to become a reference group for research and innovation relating to the production of ready to use cell function analysis kits for numerous biomedical and pharmaceutical companies.

In conclusion, this project is not just a combination between scientific research and big data analysis with the involvement of industries. TRAIN is the emblem of European Territorial Cooperation. Putting together skills, shared resources and best practices to balance strengths and weaknesses, lays the foundations for Science of the future that combines disciplines to tackle communal challenges.


(1) LP International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB); PP2 Institut “Jožef Stefan”; PP3 Tehnološki park Ljubljana d.o.o; PP4 Experteam srl; PP5 Biovalley Investments S.p.A.; PP6 Mednarodna podiplomska šola Jožefa Stefana. For more information, visit the site or

(2)For more and detailed information, visit the official ICGEB web-site

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