iBET — Providing Biotech Solutions Globally

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iBET – Instituto de Biologia Experimental e Tecnológica is one of the most advanced organisations of its kind in the world, dedicated to applied research to the progress of Biotechnology and Life sciences.

iBET works in a broad range of fields that encompass multidisciplinary approaches, from the development of complex biopharmaceuticals and novel therapies to areas in food and health, including nutraceuticals and support to the agro-food industry.
It was founded in 1989, at a time when the world was rapidly changing and nowhere more so than in Portugal which was awakening to the need to break with traditional economic models heavily reliant on primary resources, inexpensive products and cheap labour.
A couple of Portuguese scientists nurtured the idea of bringing public institutions together with private companies to work towards a common goal: harvesting the knowledge created by the former and transferring it to the economy and society to create wealth and quality of life. These visionaries created the Institute of Experimental Biology and Technology – iBET.
iBET is a private non-profit research organisation in the area of Biotechnology and Life Sciences. It bridges university and industry research by establishing partnerships particularly in the areas related to Biopharma and Food and Nutraceuticals, while also creating and organising autonomous knowledge and expertise.
Thirty years later, iBET is still the largest private Portuguese non-profit institution devoted to Biotechnology research.
“One of our main areas of research in the biopharma area is gene transfer for therapeutic use. This is an area with a great potential nowadays, with applications in gene therapy, oncotherapy and vaccinology. However this is just a fraction of the research performed at iBET. We also work in structural biology for drug development, advanced cell therapy products and in 3D disease cell models for drug testing. A strong focus on improving processes for the production of biologics towards sustainability and cost efficiency differentiates iBET globally” explains the CEO of iBET, Professor Paula Alves.
Prof. Alves says iBET is unique in Portugal, acting as a bridge between academia, companies and hospitals, advancing therapies and solutions for a healthy life.
“We organise our research with a focus on creating value to our partners. We are unique because we invest early-on in strategic research lines, identifying areas where we can compete globally. And we deliver! Our most valuable capital is our people. We have world class experts in our teams and we know how to attract and retain them, as they say, good people attract good people”, she says.
iBET CEO concludes, the success of iBET is all down to a commitment to excellence. “When, as a result from your reputation for quality, you secure a contract with a large pharmaceutical company there is only one thing to do: offer a valuable work that meets the expectation of the company, communicate actively and build an open and trust based relationship. It’s all about the people.”
Like most research institutes, iBET hosts several PhD and Master’s students and other academic fellows in collaboration with different national and international academic organisations. Additionally, as research contracts with industry require scientists to work exclusively in R&D projects for the companies, iBET also creates high value job opportunities, offering non-academic scientific career opportunities in Portugal.

Working on Covid-19 tests

This year iBET was involved in developing a prototype blood test for COVID-19 to detect the presence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in blood samples.
“A serological test is crucial to understand the disease, how a vaccine might work and to monitor how the virus is spreading and undertake the epidemiology. For more than 20 years iBET has produced numerous recombinant proteins for the pharma industry coping with highly demanding quality criteria. This expertise qualified iBET as a key partner for the production of SARS-CoV-2 antigens, the key reagent in these serological tests.
In a joined effort, Serology4COVID, a consortium of several research institutes, coordinated by Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC) combined the expertise of their scientists to rapidly develop a Made-in-Portugal assay with superior quality and performance. “This challenge illustrates how in challenging times, Portuguese scientists can join efforts and provide solutions rapidly” Dr Alves says.
The project to develop serologic tests was supported by Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian and by Oeiras Municipal Council with whom iBET has forged a close working partnership for the last 30 years.
“For us, the interaction with the Mayor of Oeiras, Isaltino Morais, is of utmost importance, because we feel that the Council values research organisations and the scientists working in Oeiras. We feel integrated and welcome in the city we live and work,” says iBET CEO Prof. Paula Alves

Welcome to the future

The iBET CEO says that working and living in Oeiras provides a tangible sense of Future.
“When you look at Oeiras Valley, you see companies, scientific research institutes, and startup incubators, which triggers the feeling the future is developing underneath our feet and you are part of it. This cutting-edge scientific and technological ecosystem generates value for the people and for the city and attracts highly qualified people to the municipality.”
“Oeiras Valley has something unique, which isn’t just about the weather and feeling safe. Here in Oeiras we do value people and our institute is world-class, on the same kind of level you would expect to find in the United States, Germany or the United Kingdom and that makes me proud,”concludes Dr. Paula Alves, Executive Director of iBET.