The large scale expansion of adherent cells, which underpins the production of stem cells for regenerative medicine and the manufacturing of complex biotherapeutics (e.g. exosomes and vaccines) remains challenging and a key hurdle to the accessibility of associated therapies. Indeed, the expansion of adherent stem cells and adherent cell lines for bioproduction relies on culture on solid microcarriers that remain difficult to process and significantly add to costs. Cell adhesion to solid substrates and associated mechanotransduction is thought to be essential to mediate key processes regulating the production of biotherapeutics, such as exosome secretion and protein glycosylation. However, we recently demonstrated that liquid substrates, such as emulsion microdroplets, can support cell adhesion and promote the retention of a normal adherent phenotype. We showed that this process is mediated by the self-assembly of mechanically strong protein nanosheets at corresponding liquid-liquid interfaces. This project will demonstrate the scale up of emulsion-based biomanufacturing platforms. We will scale up (L scale) bio-emulsions based on protein nanosheets that promote cell adhesion and display suitable interfacial mechanics, from affordable protein sources. We will demonstrate the compatibility of such systems with bioreactors routinely used in the field, for the scale up of adherent stem cells production, and that of adherent cell lines for biotherapeutics production (exosomes and vaccines). We will establish further IP and a commercialisation strategy with identified partners to translate our technology in the field of biomanufacturing. We propose that bio-emulsions for the culture of adherent cells will bring a step change to the field of biomanufacturing, enabling to borrow concepts and processes from the field of chemical engineering, in which biphasic liquid-liquid systems and emulsions have revolutionised the production of fine chemicals, drugs and nanomaterials.
Magnetoelectric (ME) composites have the potential to revolutionize current nanotechnologies due to their ability to simultaneously respond to external magnetic and electric stimuli. However, archetypical ME materials prepared on rigid supports show either small effects due to the clamping with the substrate (e.g., Si wafers) or require of extremely high voltages (in case ferroelectric –FE– substrates are employed). To overcome these drawbacks, MAGNUS proposes a comprehensive research program built on the disruptive idea of using strain-gradient (i.e., flexoelectricity), instead of homogeneous strain, to boost the properties of ME composites deposited onto rigid substrates. The project encompasses new strategies to grow ‘mechanically flexible’ nanoporous magnetostrictive materials (FeGa, FeCo, Co ferrite) and fill them with FE polymers (P(VDF-TrFE)), rendering new functionally graded composites, operated with magnetic/electric fields, that will surpass classical compositionally-graded materials. The project aims at using these composites for (i) ME (wireless) bone tissue engineering and (ii) functionally-graded magnetic recording media. MAGNUS will take advantage of (i) my previous experience on electrodeposited Fe-based alloys and spin-coated FE polymers, (ii) the strong background of the main Host Institution (UAB) on magnetism and (iii) the expertise of the Partner Organizations on ME materials for biomedicine (ETH Zürich) and the growth of porous oxides (Univ. Cambridge). MAGNUS will bring interesting cross-cutting outcomes in the field of magnetoelectricity, exploiting strain-gradient mediated ME effects to an unprecedented extent and settling the grounds to consolidate the use of these frontier materials in the newly launched “Horizon Europe” Framework Programme (2021-2027). Besides the fascinating science to be unveiled in MAGNUS, the project will offer me the possibility to create a prestigious network which will reinforce my professional status in science.
Partners: THE CHANCELLOR, MASTERS AND SCHOLARS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in Europe, responsible for the highest women cancer mortalities each year. Characterisation of breast tumours teased them apart to distinct subtypes and facilitated targeted treatments that improved survival rates significantly, yet some aggressive subtypes remain difficult to treat. New therapies that harness the patient own immune system to fight the tumour show remarkable success in several cancers but limited one in breast cancer. Single cell genomics is the cutting-edge method to profile tissues at the highest resolution. As a computational biologist experienced in this technique, I will use it to analyse breast tumours with their residing immune cells. I aim to dissect the dynamic processes that shape the clonal development of the tumour as it emerges from a healthy tissue, with an emphasis on the immune system response to the evolving tumour. Single cell genomics, being the main driving tool, will be leveraged by integration with vast data from thousands of deeply profiled tumour samples available in the Host lab. The project includes generation of a healthy breast single cell expression atlas; a computational method to infer somatic mutations clones from single cell genomics data; single cell profiling of breast tumours together with adjacent normal tissues; and lastly, integration of the results with data from the large tumours biobank that holds years of clinical history which may reveal new progression markers and improve risk stratification. This plan is unique by accounting for multiple aspects of the tumours, including normal to malignant transition, interplay of breast and immune cells, and tumour clonal dynamics. By tackling common cancer immune mechanisms, it may provide novel insights of relevance to all cancer types. Pursuing this grand project in a leading lab that covers all aspects of breast cancer research will increase my research versatility on my way to become an independent researcher.
Poor air quality in cities around the world is a major societal and economic issue, causing more than 5.5 million premature deaths and resulting in €4.3 trillion in welfare losses. Preserving and improving the public health requires effective monitoring of air pollutants from their sources to their transport within the city web, however existing air quality monitoring networks have either very low spatial resolution or low accuracy to serve this purpose. Building on the technology solutions developed within the D-TECT ERC CoG, our project aims to cover this gap by commercializing the "PM-scanner", a remote sensing instrument which will monitor particulate matter (PM) concentration over large areas with unprecedented accuracy and high spatial and temporal resolution. Briefly, the instrument will emit laser pulses and observe the intensity and polarization state of the backscatter light as it travels in the atmosphere; these data will be analysed using dedicated Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms to provide PM2.5 and PM10 concentration at multiple locations above a city. We envision that the PM-scanner will be a powerful tool to regional governments, environmental protection agencies and polluting industries, allowing effective real-time monitoring of pollution agents and supporting data-driven air quality policies and actions. Within the proposed PoC project, we aim to verify the innovation potential of the PM-scanner idea by establishing a defensible IP position, building a realistic demonstrator of the PM data products based on the D-TECT Wall-E lidar prototype, and validating our approach by interacting with stakeholders in the envisaged value chain.
The ERC StG project “Epilepsy Controlled with Electronic Neurotransmitter Delivery (EPI-Centrd)” is focused on improved therapeutic intervention in drug-resistant patients with surgically-complicated forms of epilepsy. These patients represent a large demographic needing new commercial solutions, as there are fifty million people in the world with epilepsy and up to 50 cases of new-onset epilepsy per 100,000 people each year, where 30% of these cases are patients with drug-resistant epilepsy. Although EPI-Centrd provides state-of-the-art treatments for epileptic zones in the brain of drug-resistant patients, it does not include technology for improved identification of such epileptic zones. This ERC PoC project “The Commercial Assessment of a Novel Protocol for Epilepsy Characterisation with Temporally Interfering Electric Fields (CONECTIF)” dramatically improves the traditional limitations in the identification of epileptic zones in the brain of patients by providing a simplified, less-invasive method capable of localizing epileptic tissue, including the ability to non-invasively investigate previously inaccessibility and surgically-complicated brain regions. The new method utilizing temporally interfering electric fields could have a massive commercial potential and, if successful, would dramatically improve the therapeutic targets for technologies developed in the EPI-Centrd project and for the identification of epileptic zones in other forms of epilepsy, not only in drug-resistant patients.
Coherent laser ranging and detection (FMCW LiDAR) is a technology that promises to revolutionize the application field of long range high-precision 3-dimensional imaging. It is expected to be a key enabler for high-speed and high-resolution object detection and classification that is necessary for autonomous cars, trucks, trains and unmanned aerial vehicles. It overcomes challenges of commercially available time-of-flight LiDARs, cameras and radar systems, and provides excellent distance and angular resolution with quantum noise limited readout and inherent immunity to sunlight glare and cross-sensor interference. It is particularly suited for long range and high speed applications because continuous-wave operation of the laser reduces optical peak power and ensures eye-safety. However, FMCW LIDAR faces major issues that prevented its successful commercialization hitherto: it requires lasers that are efficient, compact, frequency-agile, low noise, highly coherent, and above all can be scanned in a very precise fashion. Today, no compact, mass-manufacturable coherent long range LiDAR laser module exists. The FRESCO project aims to address this bottleneck by commercializing recently developed chip-scale single-frequency FMCW LiDAR module based on a 1550 nm semiconductor laser diodes and a photonic Si3N4 microring resonator with integrated piezoelectrical actuator. The new technology allows unprecedentedly fast tuning and high chirp nonlinearity while maintaining small compact module size, which are critical for technology competitiveness in large and demanding LIDAR market. Hence the FRESCO project addresses the challenge to provide next-generation sensor modules for the autonomous future of personal mobility and transport in a variety of platforms.
ORGEVINE aims to reduce water and phytosanitary chemicals usage as well as enhancing production yield in the wine industry by developing a network of wireless autonomous sensors that will provide real time images of key field parameters such as temperature and humidity. This will be achieved by taking our patented non-toxic thermoelectric materials into prototype organic thermoelectric generators (OTEGs) that will power the low-cost sensors. By taking advantage of the ubiquitous renewable energy source that is the temperature difference between soil and air, the sensors will become self-powered, thus avoiding a major bottleneck in the Internet of Things, i.e. the costly battery replacement. This interdisciplinary project will constitute a key enabling step in the broad field of precision agriculture, as well as environment conservation (e.g. through forestry fire prevention).
HUB4CLOUD will assist growing the impact and relevance of Cloud Computing research, innovation and policy-driven efforts, while accelerating its adoption and deployments in Europe. By running dedicated coordination and support activities, including roadmapping, dissemination, organisation of events, mapping of open source/(pre-)standardisation initiatives, and business acceleration activities, HUB4CLOUD will ensure the creation of an open, inclusive, and sustainable ecosystem. To succeed in its ambition, HUB4CLOUD, as a rather small project, will “stand on the shoulders of giants”, meaning it will build upon and together other relevant ongoing efforts (), engaging top experts (Letters of Support/Intent from RedHat, GAIA-X, CERN, GÉANT, EOSC, HELIX NEBULA, NESSI, OW2, FIWARE, IBM, etc.) and featuring an impressive mix of experience and skills brought in by strong and committed partners. HUB4CLOUD build on the core principles of agility and value creation. Agility because besides dealing with a moving target, the ECC is in continuous evolution, in the transition towards Horizon Europe short iteration cycles to generate outputs will allow to answer the need of the community (including the EC) more effectively. Value creation because without clear benefits provided to its participants, it will not be possible to engage stakeholders (internal and newcomers/external) in the European Cloud Computing community in a durable way. HUB4CLOUD ultimate ambition is contribute building “a Europe fit for the digital age” in which digital technologies and solutions are strongly rooted in the core European values, spanning fundamental individual rights to market openness and environmental sustainability.
The overall objective of IC SALES is to ensure greater synergies between the Enhanced EIC Pilot and EIT InnoEnergy in support of the Green Deal and other European Union policy priorities, to be deployed under Horizon Europe. IC SALES will achieve this objective though: 1. Establishing a tested, innovator (customer)-centered and business-oriented, coordination mechanism, notably around • seamless flow of innovative business cases from the EIC Accelerator to EIT InnoEnergy and vice versa, • leveraging of the EIT InnoEnergy eco-system and topical expertise for de-risking innovative business cases funded by the EIC Accelerator Pilot, • investigating and defining the possibility of co-investments, 2. Supporting a significant number of innovators funded by the EIC Accelerator Pilot which are not already connected to EIT InnoEnergy. 3. Supporting a significant number of innovators from the portfolio of EIT InnoEnergy to connect to the EIC Accelerator pilot. 4. Supporting a conducive eco-system (capital, connectedness, competence) in low-carbon energy. 5. Extending the benefit of EIT InnoEnergy Business Acceleration Services to innovators receiving the EIC’s Seal of Excellence Those objectives are fully in line and highly relevant for the Work Programme’s objectives of delivering a successful European Green Deal (climate-neutral EU 2050 and Green Recovery) and ultimately stimulating impact, i.e. market-creating breakthroughs for a resilient, competitive EU economy (growth, jobs, industrial leadership).
Porous materials are important in established processes such as catalysis and molecular separations and in emerging technologies for energy and health. Among these, covalent organic frameworks (COFs) have shown a lot of potential as materials for gas separation and storage, liquid filtration and purification, heterogenous catalysis, sensing, electronics and, energy conversion and storage applications. However, the lack of processability makes it difficult to translate the advantageous properties of COFs into industrial applications. In MagnifiCOF, we will develop a unique technology to make COF suitable for industrial use, by putting in practice part of the knowledge and expertise gathered in the FET-Open project 2D-INK.