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New projects launched for returnees and cooperation with Croatian Diaspora totaling to HRK 6.5 million
In late December 2008 the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports has signed the agreements for implementation of six scientific and technological projects of the Unity Through Knowledge Fund (UKF), to be financed under the Scientific Co-operation Program. In the next two years the national and foreign scientists of Croatian origin shall be granted HRK 6.5 million under the joint projects of Croatian universities and institutes.

The “Unity Through Knowledge Fund” initiated its operations in 2007; by now 38 projects have been financed under the specially designed programs, comprising the areas of scientific cooperation, mobility of researchers, commercialization of research and intellectual property protection, as well as support to young scientists. The overall funds available to the Fund amount to EUR 5 million, whereof 3.7 million has been provided from the World Bank loan and 1.3 million from the State Budget.

Under the Scientific Cooperation Program 30 project applications have been received, out of which 6 projects have been selected for financing (20% passage rate) with assistance of over 80 outstanding specialists for particular area, most of them coming from abroad. Apart of reviewers, two committees of the Fund participated in selection of projects eligible for financing as well, providing thus, apart of the scientific and technological excellence of the project, for the conformity with the Fund’s goals, such as supporting research competitive at international level, research generating new values in the Croatian economy or contributing to the development of the Croatian scientific system.

About accepted tenders

The cooperation between Prof. Mr. Siniša Volarević, DSc from Faculty of Medicine in Rijeka and Prof. Mr. Zlatko Dembić, DSc from Oslo University on the project Regulation of the p53 Tumor Suppressor by Ribosomal Proteins in Physiological and Pathological Conditions, is based on the research of the hypothesis and assumption that the oncogenic stress activates mutation of cells and resistance of human malignant tumor to the prescribed therapy. The outcomes of the project should contribute to future enhancement of malignant tumor diagnostics with a view to developing more efficient anti tumor medicines. Apart of it the project will enhance the scientific potentials and the research quality in Croatia. The Fund will grant project funds amounting to HRK 1,191,842.400 and funding amounting to HRK 238,368 is anticipated from other sources.

The young returnee Vladan Desnica from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb will, in cooperation with the Laboratory for Ion Beams Interactions of the “Institute Ruđer Bošković”, under the Project Research, Development and Construction of Portable Micro X-Ray Fluorescence Device, pursue the development and construction of the prototype of the portable micro x-ray fluorescence device. The original solution, developed under the project shall present the outcome of transfer of scientific and technological knowledge of the project leader – acquired abroad – as well as the joint effort of the team of Croatian experts and specialists, ready to convert their theoretical and practical skills in unique high technology product. The project was co-financed from other sources as well (including the private sector), with funds amounting to HRK 173,425.00 and the Fund granted the amount totaling to HRK 867,125.00.

The SCUBA diving is considered as one of the most frequent recreational activities, pursued by over ten million of people. Professor Željko Dujić, DSc, from the Faculty of Medicine in Split, Mr. Peter J. Denoble (Divers Alert Network) and Professor Brubakk (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) are going to pursue joint research under the Project Physiology of SCUBA diving - researching the mechanisms influencing the development of decompression disease likely to occur during diving as a result of nitrogen oversupply in tissues, which on occasion of rising to quickly to the surface, is dissolved in the blood forming gas bubble and resulting in emobolization. The research will, apart from providing for better understanding of the mechanism of impact of diving on human body physiology and defining the procedure for reducing the diving related risks, result in the preparation of the new European project. The Fund grants for the project funds amounting to HRK 1,110,375.00 and the remaining HRK 679,055 is provided from additional sources.

The Project of Prof. Kragić, DSc (KTH, Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden) and Prof. Jerbić, DSc (Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture of the University of Zagreb), Improving Grasping Movements by Predictions Based on Observation, is focused on the issues of grabbing and manipulation of objects, what is currently one of the most important open issues in the robotics domain. The Project is aimed at designing and development of an object manipulation system, in which the learning is based on imitation of human object manipulation. In other words, the robots will learn how to manipulate with objects in the same way as children, i.e. by observing their parents and imitating them. The Project is co-financed by HRK 300,000 provided by the private sector and international sources and by funds provided by the Fund amounting to HRK 459,000.
The Project of Professor Srećko Gajović DSc (Faculty of Medicine in Zagreb) and Professor Jasna Križ DSc (Faculty of Medicine, Laval University, Canada), titled Regeneration and Plasticity after Ischemic Brain Damage Studied on Innovative Transgenic Mouse Models, will study the molecular activities resulting from ischemic damage on transgenic mice. The mouse models and equipment for in vivo monitoring, received from the Canadian partner, constitute powerful analytical tools for monitoring the genetic activity in live animals in actual time. The benefits deriving from this Project for Croatian science and society comprise the transfer of knowledge and application of innovative genetic technology, which should in the future provide an impetus for finding a solution to one of the main medical issues of modern society – the stroke. The overall funds provided by the Fund for realization of this project amount to HRK 1,460,000, and the remainder of the funds will be provided by other sources.
The research of the returnee, Mr. Srećko Kirin DSc from the Institute „Ruđer Bošković“, financed by the Fund in the amount of HRK 1,460,000.00 HRK, and from other sources in the amount of HRK 438,000.00, studies the development of new catalysts. The catalysis of chemical reactions is of significant relevance in chemical industry; the manufacturing of the majority of significant chemicals includes catalysis. New metal complexes for chiral homogenous catalysis will be prepared under the Project. The project partners are Chirallica d.o.o. from Zagreb and „The University of Western Ontario“ from Canada.

For more details on the projects please visit the web site of the Fund www.ukf.hr (Cooperability)

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