Anton Bushuiev, PhD student at CIIRC CTU, together with the “Protein-AI” team won first place at the Sciencepreneurship Summer School in Switzerland

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Foto: Arnout devos

Anton Bushuiev from the Josef Šivic research group at CIIRC CTU recorded another success at the European level. This time, not solely a scientific one. Together with the „Protein-AI“ team of entrepreneurial students, he won first place in the best project competition at the 2024 Sciencepreneurship Summer School: Sustainability & AI in Lausanne, Switzerland. Founded in 2023 by researchers at EPFL and ETH Zurich, two of the world’s leading institutes of technology, the second edition of the Sciencepreneurship Summer School gathered global researchers, experienced deep tech entrepreneurs, and ecosystem players to support the translation of research findings into real-world solutions that improve lives and have a valuable impact on society.

This prestigious programme brings together 40 young researchers from the world’s leading institutes each year. They learn how to turn their discoveries into something that will have a real impact on society. The week-long summer school programme not only gives them the business know-how they need to do this but also the opportunity to forge valuable relations with ecosystem players. This year, the leading innovation players participating included ELIAS, ETH AI Center, Tubingen AI Center, QBIT Capital VC, Kellerhals Carrard startup law firm, and EPFL Startup Launchpad.  The programme focuses primarily on PhD students and offers them a unique chance to network with other postgraduate students with an entrepreneurial spirit, as well as experienced entrepreneurs and key players in the field of innovation. All with the aim of bridging the gap between scientific innovation and its practical application. In other words, this programme helps to nurture a new generation of scientific leaders who can translate their discoveries into reality with tangible benefits for society.

“After this unique one-week course, I have gained a clear vision of how to transform my research outcomes into a startup for a broader impact,” expressed Anton Bushuiev shortly after coming back from Lausanne and continued: “The lectures and workshops led by experts, combined with collaboration with like-minded students, provided an exceptional opportunity to learn the fundamentals of creating a startup. This included both the theoretical aspects of founding a company and practical knowledge in developing and pitching ideas.”

Foto: Arnout Devos

The “Protein-AI” team won first place among 10 competing teams from leading institutes. Their project copes with making insoluble proteins soluble, using artificial intelligence (AI), accelerating drug discovery by orders of magnitude since working with insoluble proteins is notoriously hard. The team developed this startup idea based on a recent proof of concept for protein solubilisation led by Casper Goverde, Anton’s teammate. They naturally teamed up since Casper’s research relates closely to Anton’s AI research on learning to design protein-protein interactions, published at leading AI conference ICLR 2024. Casper’s work is soon to be featured in the leading journal Nature. The team used it as a basis to develop a startup idea, including the development of product details and a go-to-market strategy, which was highly evaluated by the jury at the final startup pitch competition.

The “Protein-AI” team received the highest score, evaluated by an independent jury of sciencepreneurs including Prof. Paul Dyson, the Dean of EPFL’s School of Basic Sciences and co-founder at Embion, Prof. Christophe Moser, a photonics sciencepreneur turned entrepreneurial academic at EPFL, and Dr. Til Schlotter, winner of the 2023 Sciencepreneurship Summer School pitching competition with his venture UNOMR, which he is currently spinning off from ETH Zurich.

“Many congratulations to Anton and his team! This kind of outcome is a perfect example of what we intended to make happen when we started the summer school in 2023,” says Arnout Devos, co-founder of the programme and PhD candidate in Artificial Intelligence at EPFL, adding: “The Sciencepreneurship Summer School programme has shown time after time to be a highly selective and effective programme by intersecting internationally leading communities of innovation, research, and education, resulting in real downstream impact.

Anton Bushuiev is a PhD student supervised by Josef Šivic. Anton comes from Donetsk in Ukraine and obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Czech Technical University in Prague, working on the applications of neural networks to cybersecurity and protein design.

Anton intensively collaborates on his research with his twin brother Roman, jointly supervised by Tomáš Pluskal at IOCB Prague and Josef Šivic at CIIRC CTU.

Anton’s current research focus is on developing machine learning models for practical drug design applications in collaboration with Loschmidt Laboratories at Masaryk University in Brno.

Among other achievements, he stands behind a new ML method for designing protein-protein interactions that was recently presented at ICLR 2024. (We wrote about it here).

Foto: From the left, Anton Bushuiev and Arnout Devos

Members of the Protein-AI team:

Anton Bushuiev (CIIRC CTU), Casper Goverde (EPFL), Noah Hollmann (University of Freiburg / Charité Berlin), Prashant Govindarajan (MILA – Quebec AI Institute).

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