The acronym ICRI-BioM, and the full name International Centre for Research on Innovative Bio-based Materials, has been used in the past in many different contents, and defined many different actions and projects always with biomaterial core but of various scope. This causes significant confusion when it comes to understanding what it stands for now. Thus, a brief explanation is in order. While it can illustrate the development of the concept for those who are following the progress of the Centre creation, the main purpose of this note is to alleviate the confusion that is now associated with these terms.
So before going back in time let’s make it clear that currently International Centre for Research on Innovative Bio-based Materials (ICRI-BioM) is a research center legally established on June 18th, 2019 within the Lodz University of Technology structure, where it functions under the Polish name Międzynarodowe Centrum Badań Innowacyjnych Biomateriałów (ICRI-BioM) – Międzynarodowa Agenda Badawcza which has been established in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz, Germany.
“Pre-history” of ICRI-BioM. The concept of creating the research center that combines bio- and nano- technologies goes back to 2008, when Professor Stanisław Bielecki, at that time Rector of the Lodz University of Technology, together with Professor Krzysztof Matyjaszewski from the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, attempted to create in Lodz an advanced interdisciplinary research center, which was named European Centre of Bio- and Nanotechnology (ECBNT). Professor Matyjaszewski became the chairman of the International Advisory Board of ECBNT, to which several outstanding scientists from leading European research centers were invited. In the preparation of this very ambitious project researchers from most faculties of TUL were involved, with leading role played by a team of young researchers from the Department of Molecular Physics, led by Professor Jacek Ulański and a team from the Institute of Technical Biochemistry led by professor Bielecki.
Because the ECBNT project in its original form did not get funding it was decided to realize its main elements as a new part of the Lodz Technopark, which after such substantial extension was renamed to Bionanopark. Several advanced laboratories, planned and designed for ECBNT by researchers from TUL, constitute now the core of Bionanopark, including the Laboratory of Molecular Biotechnology and the Laboratory of Molecular Simulation equipped with unique, massively-parallel simulator ARUZ (Analizator Rzeczywistych Układów Złożonych - Analyzer of Real Complex Systems).
“Modern history” of ICRI-BioM can be traced back to the first Teaming for Excellence call under the EU Horizon 2020 program. In fact, for the purpose of this application the current name ICRI-BioM has been coined. The project was developed by the research consortium led by TUL and included University of Lodz, Medical University of Lodz, Centre of Molecular and Macromolecular Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences, and two Max Planck Institutes (for Polymer Research and for Biophysical Chemistry).
In accordance with the Polish regulations the consortium applied also for matching funds under the International Research Agenda (Międzynarodowa Agenda Badawcza, MAB) Program operated by the Foundation for Polish Science (FNP). Unfortunately, both applications failed (later also second application to the Teaming program, also named ICRI-BioM, has not been successful). It didn't discourage Professor Bielecki and his vision of building the International Scientific Center in Lodz has been continued. He obtained the support from Professor Klaus Muellen and his consent to take over the leadership of the new proposal preparation to which Professor Piotr Paneth was invited as the second applicant. Significant help in the preparation of the proposal was received from Ms Kazimiera Zacharska and Ms Małgorzata Snarska. The application of Professor Muellen and Professor Paneth to the MAB PLUS call from the Foundation for Polish Science (FNP) has been successful. All these proposals share the ICRI-BioM name.
Since Bionanopark premises have been indicated as the site for ICRI-BioM, initially the project was supposed to become a part of this enterprise. However, due to legal complications the decision has been made to locate it in the daughter company of Bionanopark, which has been legally renamed to ICRI-BioM Ltd for this purpose. Also this legal entity didn’t, however, allow to successfully sign the grant agreement with FNP. Upon discussions between former and current TUL Rectors, Professors Bielecki and Sławomir Wiak, and the MAB grantee, Professor Paneth, the consensus has been reached that the best option for ICRI-BioM to get started is its legal association with TUL. Consequently, as mentioned above, on June 18th, 2019 ICRI-BioM has been established within the legal structure of the Lodz University of Technology.
On September 2nd, 2019 the grant agreement with FNP has been signed,making ICRI BioM fully operational
The logo of ICRI-BioM can be downloaded from the links below in jpg and png formats.
It illustrates foreseen scientific activities of the Center and its service to the local community. Consequently, the logo represents a boat (which in Polish is łódź – same as the name of the city), which hull is of carbon-containing origin like most organic polymers (programs for illustration of chemical compounds use black or grey color to represent carbon atoms) powered by the biobased (“bio” being usually associated with the green color) sail. This symbolic vision has been sketched by Piotr Paneth and polished computationally by Jakub Woskowski.