Fellowships for PhDs and post-docs to bring their inventions into the market.
IST Austria is an institute dedicated to basic research. While its main focus is on conducting science at the highest level, it also has an interest in seeing its scientific discoveries translated into innovations and products.
To this end IST Austria intends to support interested researchers in this translation process. This is driven by IST Austria’s desire to contribute to the public – to which IST Austria owes its existence -, as well as IST Austria’s obligation towards inventors under its IP policy and the requirement to procure third party funds in order to grow to its full target size.
The following guiding principles define the approach of the TWIST Fellowship Program:
Additional Resources to Kick Start Translation
The TWIST Fellowship Program should provide dedicated, additional resources for translational projects. Typically, these would be students or post docs who have completed (or interrupt) their scientific program, or external hires in case a particular skill set is required.
The support of the TWIST Fellowship Program is transitional and intended to help develop projects to a stage where further development in the existing ecosystem of external grants, industry cooperation, business angel investment etc. is feasible. This implies that a concrete objective for each project has to be the acquisition of external funds to continue the development.
Transparency on Research vs. Translational Work
The TWIST Fellowship Program reinforces IST’s principle of maintaining a high degree of transparency on the allocation of resources to research vs. translation oriented work. The focus of research groups on their scientific agenda remains unadulterated.
Open to Entire IST Community
While students and postdocs might be the most relevant audience for the TWIST Fellowship Program, it is intended to be open to any member of the IST community capable of pursuing a translational program based on IST research.
Mentoring and Support
The TWIST Fellowship Program will support the projects through a mentoring program and help project leaders to interact with industry, grant agencies and other necessary external contacts.
Foster Entrepreneurial Drive
The TWIST Fellowship Program is intended to provide our students with an actual entrepreneurial experience which will be a valuable part of their overall education at IST.
Returns to IST
In addition to the intangible benefits of bringing inventions closer to market and educating students, any effort to successfully commercialize inventions will increase the probability of economic payback to IST as the IP to these inventions continues to be held by IST.
TWIST Fellowship Project (2021): AutoMold
TWIST Fellows Thomas Auzinger and Ruslan Guseinov—former scientists of Bernd Bickel’s research group at IST Austria —are preparing the spin-off of a software startup company in mold-based manufacturing.
They aim to reshape product and mold design through a combination of computational design automation and smart co-design tools. This will not only greatly increase the productivity of mold making and the accessibility of industrial manufacturing, but also ensure the manufacturability of products without interrupting the design process.
TWIST Prototype Project (2020): A Novel Approach to Improving the Immune Response to Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
Kathrin Tomasek, a PhD student associated with the Sixt and Guet labs, identified an interaction between a cellular receptor protein and a bacterial protein that may be the key to understanding why the immune system is not very effective at combatting urinary tract infections (UTIs). Kathrin is testing specific compounds in assays she has developed, to see whether disrupting the protein-protein interaction could boost the body’s response to a UTI.