SPRIND Funke Challenge: Tissue Engineering
Closing Date: 30/09/2023
Funding for projects dedicated to advancements in 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
Development of cells as building blocks for the artificial tissue. Projects may utilise cells from different sources, including:
- Cells from the patient’s own body (autologous cells)
- Cells from compatible donors (allogeneic cells).
- Cells from stem cells (iPSCs, MSCs).
Tissue architecture development
Developing tissue architecture including structural organisation and design of the engineered tissue. Projects should address the following aspects:
- Scaffold design and material.
- Pore structure.
- Cell seeding.
- Stratification and organisation of cells.
- Integration into the host tissue.
Encouraged are advanced techniques such as 3/4D bioprinting, microfabrication and biomimetic scaffolds that can create complex tissue structures which closely resemble natural tissue and improve the functionality and integration of the artificial constructs.
Projects are expected to utilise recent advances in materials chemistry to support the development of novel composite materials with tailored properties for tissue engineering applications with the aim to improve biocompatibility, biodegradability and functionalisation of materials.
Projects should also use growth factors, biomechanics and new chemical processes to develop and design materials and improve tissue regeneration and tissue functionality.
In addition, projects must incorporate appropriate biomechanical signals (such as through light, sound or chemical induction) into the design of tissue engineering materials to aid functional tissue regeneration and integration into host tissues.
The programme runs for a total period of ten months and is structured in two stages:
- During stage 1 (eight months), the selected teams will further develop their tissue engineering products with the aim of first-in-human study readiness.
- Stage 2 lasts two months and provides support for the regulatory and strategic preparation for the first-in-human study.