Breakthrough Advances in Tissue Engineering: Newly Launched SPRIND Challenge Now Open

Programme offers short-term funding for research teams across Europe to further develop and refine their approaches to the development of complex artificial tissue.

SPRIND is the German Federal Agency for Disruptive Innovation (Bundesagentur für Sprunginnovationen). It acts as a forum between the German government, industry, and research representatives. The organisation’s main objective is to support breakthrough innovations. SPRIND provides agile, proactive support for innovations both financially and structurally.

With its Funke programme (German for ‘spark’) SPRIND aims to detect and identify breakthrough innovations. It is designed to act as a kind of nucleus around which radical new ideas can form.

The SPRIND Funke Tissue Engineering call supports research teams to develop an advanced concept that will produce highly advanced artificial tissue. The call is intended to pave the way for research to reach the next technical inflection point on the way to the first demonstration in humans.

The developed tissue must be as close as possible to natural human tissue in terms of size, structure and complexity. The focus is on highly complex 3D tissue models. In this context, complexity is understood as ascending from connective tissue to muscle tissue to complex organs.

Projects may apply approaches that include one or more of the following elements:

  • Engineering of cells from different sources, including the patient’s own body (autologous cells), compatible donors (allogeneic cells) and stem cells (iPSCs, MSCs).
  • Developing tissue architecture, including structural organisation and design of the engineered tissue.
  • Engineering materials, including development of novel composite materials with tailored properties for tissue engineering applications with the aim to improve biocompatibility, biodegradability and functionalisation of materials.

Eligible to apply are research teams in all legal forms, including universities, non-university research institutions, established companies, start-ups, and incubators. Teams are eligible to apply if their headquarters are in the European Union, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), the United Kingdom, or Israel. Individual team members or collaboration partners may be based outside of these regions.

The programme runs for a total period of ten months and is structured in two stages:

  1. During stage 1 (eight months), the selected teams will further develop their tissue engineering products with the aim of first-in-human study readiness. During this stage, teams may receive up to €500,000.
  2. Stage 2 lasts two months and provides support for the regulatory and strategic preparation for the first-in-human study. During this stage, an additional support of up to €100,000 is offered.

The deadline for applications is 30 September 2023.

(This report was the subject of a RESEARCHconnect Newsflash.)