Case studies

Case studies are summaries of some of the successful R&D projects that have been funded through one of our programmes in recent years. Read about the societal, environmental and commercial impact of these international collaborations.

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SWIRSENSE

(Network Projects)

Laser-like focus on metabolic markers

A Lithuanian-Swiss partnership developed a system to advance research into diabetes and other metabolic disorders. Molecules have unique light-absorption qualities which act like a fingerprint for identifying markers of disease. By shining a laser onto a substance, such as blood or a person’s skin, the reflected light can help measure specific metabolite concentrations. Researchers in the SWIRSENSE project developed a new tuneable laser technology for remote-sensing critical components of blood such as glucose, lactates, urea and serum albumin, without having to take blood samples from patients.

Current technologies that do similar work cost upwards of 70,000 euro. The new system uses a short-wavelength infrared spectral range (the little-used but potentially valuable region between 1.7 and 2.5 micrometres) and is expected to cost as little as 5,000 euro. From 1980 to 2014, the number of people suffering from diabetes quadrupled to 422 million, indicating huge market potential for the SWIRSENSE system.

Project funded by MITA, Lithuanian Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology, and Research and Innovation Switzerland

  • Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (Switzerland – research organisation)
  • Brolis Semiconductors (Lithuania – SME and leading role)

TEHADP

(Eurostars)

Advanced turbines for clean, reliable tidal energy

Researchers from the UK and Sweden developed efficient turbine blades for exploiting tidal energy. Unlike sunlight or wind, the ocean’s tides are predictable and regular, and therefore represent a vital source of renewable energy that is both clean and dependable. The TEHADP project investigated robust new materials, manufacturing techniques and designs that can withstand the tough conditions in tidal energy plants. The new turbine blades they developed (also known as hydrodynamic absorbers) are reliable and cost-effective and can be “tuned” to different tidal speeds for deployment in different locations.

TEHADP turbine blades have been tested in real-world conditions, in a scaled-up tidal power plant off the Welsh coast and in full-size turbines off the coast of Scotland. Partners unveiled a tidal turbine system that includes the largest and most powerful single-axis turbine available on the commercial market. They are now pursuing opportunities for commercial deployment in the UK, France and several Asian countries.

Project funded by VINNOVA, Swedish innovation agency and Innovate UK

  • Minesto ( Sweden – SME)
  • Atlantis Operations (UK – SME and leading role)

VEMS

(Network Projects)

A simple solution for cleaner cars

An international partnership developed a system that captures and reroutes energy from car exhaust gases back to the vehicle, cutting fuel use by 5-10%. Current petrol or diesel cars use electricity produced by an alternator to power systems such as air conditioning, entertainment and door locks. This inefficient process requires a three-way conversion of chemical energy (the fuel) into mechanical energy (the alternator) and then into electric energy. Czech, Slovenian and UK partners in the VEMS project channelled unused “waste” energy contained in combustion engine exhaust fumes directly back to the alternator, producing additional electricity to boost vehicle power when needed.

The VEMS system, which was tested in a Skoda Fabia 1.0 TSI, is remarkably simple in its design, being partly based on existing technologies. It is intended for use in passenger cars, trucks, buses and other vehicles, and is already being used in race cars.

Project funded by Czech Republic Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, Slovenian Ministry of Economic development and technology, and Innovate UK

  • MSR Engines (Czech Republic – SME and leading role)
  • Sterk (Slovenia – SME)
  • Hi Tech Racing (UK – SME)

XAMFLOW

(Eurostars)

Easier micro-CT scanning for diverse markets

The Eurostars XAMFLOW project developed clever software to make high-tech scanning more efficient and less labour-intensive. Micro-computed tomography or micro-CT is essentially x-ray imaging in 3D, based on the same technology used in hospital CT scans, but on a small scale, with massively increased resolution. Once limited to the medical field, the method is now used in many sectors; whenever someone wants to assess the internal microstructure of a material, from synthetic or animal matter to fossils, food and much more.

Micro-CT is a complex and time-consuming process, involving many manual steps and requiring the scanning of multiple samples. The advanced software platform developed by XAMFLOW helps users to streamline micro-CT processes, saving time and money. The system is highly flexible and can be modified to support different domains and customer needs. New work on the platform includes the use of artificial intelligence to identify different tissues and structures inside humans and animals.

Project funded by Swiss Commission of Technology and Innovation KTI, and VINNOVA, Swedish innovation agency

  • School for Technology and Health STH, KTH Royal Institute Of Technology (Sweden – academic institute)
  • Lucid Concepts (Switzerland – technology innovator and leading role)
  • Institute for Networked Solutions INS, HSR University of Applied Sciences Rapperswil (Switzerland – academic institute)
  • Imacomp Consulting AB (Sweden – technology innovator)
  • Capenta AB (Sweden – technology innovator)
  • Scanco Medical AG (Switzerland – technology innovator)

Smart Splice SMARTSPLICER™

(Eurostars)

A crystal clear and gravity-defying laser joining system

German partners and a Swedish SME have developed a highly sensitive laser heating, tapering and splicing system that is both robust and versatile. High-precision lasers are used in many manufacturing techniques and SMARTSPLICER™ fulfilled the need for a cost-efficient and environmentally friendly system that doesn’t require additional heat or consumables and needs low maintenance.

SMARTSPLICER™ has a powerful CO2-based heat source and precise optics for splicing (based on Axicon Splicing™ technology) with a configurable software-controlled ring that shapes laser beams to match the width of the optical component being processed. These adjustable parameters result in uniform optical power. When the tool is used vertically (method based on Gravity Splicing™), gravity also helps tapering and lensing operations.

The final product is advanced and unique, and commercialised for delicate glass, photonic- and fibre-related joining and processing jobs e.g. for bulk production of lenses, in medical devices, sensors, telecom fibre-optics and R&D applications.

Funded by BMBF and Vinnova

  • Fraunhofer IOF (Germany - )
  • CeramOptec GmbH (Germany - )
  • Nyfors Teknologi AB (Sweden – SME)

NeMo Probe and NeMo Patch

(Eurostars)

Sensing and preventing brain damage

Two ground-breaking sensors that convey information crucial for preventing brain damage in millions of patients every year have been developed and patented by Swiss, German and Austrian SMEs and universities.

Imaging devices currently in use are costly and too bulky for the bedside and surgical theatres, so a Eurostars consortium developed two marketable sensors that accurately determine the volume of blood flowing and oxygen concentration in the brain: NeMo Probe is inserted into the brain (when a pressure probe is introduced) and NeMo Patch is applied to the scalp externally. Miniaturised optoelectronics are used to extract information that is then displayed on an interface suited to a clinical environment.

The products are ready for commercialisation and the participants involved are already looking for new applications of the technology and developing devices in parallel to continue to improve treatments.

Project funded by Innosuisse, BMBF and FFG

  • Use-lab (Germany – SME)
  • NeMoDevices (Switzerland – SME)
  • ETH Zurich (Switzerland – university)
  • Creaholic (Switzerland – SME)
  • University of Zurich (Switzerland – university)

RDT REAG

(Eurostars)

Rapid diagnosis for tick-borne disease

The world’s first rapid test for tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) has been developed by a collaboration between a Finnish SME and university and a Swedish research organisation. Quick treatment of TBE saves lives, but processing test results currently takes days. ReaScan® is a small low-cost diagnosis that can test immediately after infection and give results in 20 minutes. It needs one drop of blood to detect antibodies combatting the pathogen soon after exposure, and it’s accurate even for diseases known to produce false positives. The project also developed two tests for laboratories that can process batches of samples simultaneously.

ReaScan® has no competing devices and project participants have conducted trials to highlight its reliability. Reagena Oy has seen an annual turnover increase of over 20% with 10% of the company’s turnover coming from this product alone. Eureka accelerated the development of these diagnosis products, which are now on sale around Europe.

Funded by Business Finland and Vinnova

  • University of Helsinki (Finland – university)
  • Reagena Oy (Finland – SME)
  • Karoliniska Institutet (Sweden – research organisation)

Optical Diagnostics – HOLO-3

(Network Projects)

Strengthening your electronic devices

HOLO-3 may be invaluable for testing semiconductors, as manufacturers of electronics shift from using silicone to cheaper, more flexible and sophisticated “inorganic” materials. A consortium of Lithuanian and German organisations saw the need for advanced testing that examines the nanostructures of a material. They have pushed the frontier of quantum electronics and applied physics to create HOLO-3: a non-destructive, laser-based holographic technology that monitors the fast-electrical properties of materials. This user-friendly and reliable prototype has laser beams that charge the electrical and optical properties of a material and then convey what changes have taken place.

The prototype is on its way to being developed into a diagnostic device, as project partner (and world-leading supplier) Aixtron has already enhanced the quality of their semiconductors. The HOLO-3 project has also enabled the refinement of the spatio-temporal characterisation process and the publication of papers on holographic techniques.

Project funded by MITA and BMBF

  • Ekspla (Lithuania – SME)
  • Vilnius University (Lithuania – university)
  • Aixtron (Germany – large company)