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PathoCERT project has officially kicked-off its activities. PathoCERT stands for Pathogen Contamination Emergency Response Technologies and aims to help first responders to address waterborne pathogen contamination. On the 5th and 6th of October 2020, KIOS Research and Innovation Center of Excellence hosted virtually the kick-off meeting of the new 3-year H2020 project, bringing together around 90 people from an international consortium of 23 partners.

Pathogens can easily spread via water, leading to serious health complications or even death. Due to the nature of their work, first responders are more likely to become contaminated when they need to operate in areas where water is present. With a funding of €6.9M from the European Union, the project will research, develop, and evaluate specialised technologies, tools, and procedures, to handle emergencies and investigate events that involve possible waterborne pathogen contamination events. During the kick-off, the partners had the chance to hear first-hand how first responders handle emergency situations, as well as the challenges of having to operate within uncertain water environments.

The project’s outcomes will strengthen the capabilities of first responders and agencies, in terms of real-time accurate pathogen detection, increased situational awareness, improved ability in contamination event control and risk mitigation, and joint coordination between agencies to effectively manage these events. First responders will be actively involved throughout the development process using a participatory methodology of stakeholder engagement. All the PathoCERT technologies will be field-tested in 5 pilot studies in Spain, the Netherlands, Cyprus, Greece, and Bulgaria.

Led by the KIOS Research and Innovation Center of Excellence at the University of Cyprus, the project brings on board universities, research centres, NGOs, emergency responders, agencies, water utilities and companies from 11 countries: Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Sweden and South Korea. According to the coordinator, Prof. Christos Panayiotou, “the PathoCERT project provides a great opportunity to create new and innovative tools that will help first responders in their fight against water contamination events.  The project is a collaboration of major stakeholders from several European countries.

Representatives from all partners were present at the kick-off meeting, empowering the project with their own particular skills and expertise. Each partner will have a critical role to play in the development of PathoCERT whose ultimate purpose is to safeguard the health of those who dedicate their lives in protecting our society.