Preparing a “2020 Retos Investigación” proposal – stakeholder day

A team at CBIT led by Prof. José Antonio Gómez Tejedor has started to build a proposal around a new drug delivery system for ophthalmology applications, with partners at Hospital General Universitario de Elche (HGU Elche) and the Valencian Technological Institute of Plastics (AIMPLAS). We intend to submit this proposal to the upcoming 2020 Retos Investigación Spanish R&D call.

In a first set of contacts with the Pharmacy Service at HGU Elche we found there is a challenge in prescriptions where drugs need to be delivered to the eye over defined periods of time, usually with eye drops. Patient’s adherence to this type of treatment is sometimes insufficient. We set out to prepare a proposal based on engineering biocompatible materials that can deliver molecules of interest with a known stable concentration and can be made into coatings or inserts usable in an ophthalmology application.

From previous experience we thought that an engagement event was needed to gain a better insight into the needs and issues of importance to help tailor a competitive application that correctly addresses the medical needs that we have found unanswered and does it in a practical manner that can be successfully translated to a clinical application. So last Wednesday 4th of November nine participants met virtually to discuss this research proposal and figure out the goals that it should pursue. Two participants from CBIT, four from HGU Elche, and three from AIMPLAS, which was great for multidisciplinary views and an excellent balance on fields of expertise.

After a brief technical presentation by Prof Gómez, the event included an Open Space discussion session to encourage structured conversations. These have allowed us to gather key opinions and prioritise what is most important to address in our proposal. Open Space is a group dynamic were usually participants rotate around tables with different curated topics of discussion, but because of the current cover-19 pandemic we adapted the concept to an online setting. Read more on how we did it here.

This online discussion with stakeholders has been a positive step in so many ways. First it has stimulated further collaboration around the proposal and to explore previously unnoticed issues of importance to the bid. We also look to nurture strong links with medical professionals and industry at an early stage, to strengthen the proposal with their guidance and with them as partners.

In our Open Space discussion last Wednesday, attendees identified 17 questions of importance for the proposal organised in 6 thematic topics.

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