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Researchers at the University of Glasgow are celebrating three new projects which have received significant financial backing from the European Commission.
Academics from the Schools of Engineering, Geographical and Earth Sciences and Mathematics and Statistics will team with European universities and businesses to deliver innovative projects aimed at directing evolution for industry, improving water quality and developing robots with a sense of touch.
The funding comes from the European Commission’s Innovative Training Networks (ITN) project, which aims aim to train a new generation of creative, entrepreneurial and innovative early-stage researchers and increase the overall quality and innovation of the doctoral training in Europe and beyond.
A total of 123 projects will share the Commission’s €442m budget, with the University of Glasgow and partners receiving a total of €11.7m.
The EVODrops project, led by Professor Thomas Franke of the School of Engineering, has received backing of €3.5m. EVODrops aims to provide industry with a new method to help direct the further evolution of natural enzymes which have already proven useful in industrial processes, and to create new molecules with valuable industrial applications. Pioneering work in the game-changing field of directed evolution was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry this year.
Professor Franke said: “The EVODrops project will use cutting-edge droplet-based microfluidics technology to improve the efficiency and scope of directed evolution approaches for accelerated protein engineering.
“It’s an approach which has a lot of potential applications in a wide range of industries, and we’re looking forward to working with our partners on the project, which include Harvard and Hong Kong Universities, ESPCI Paris, and several major companies such as ThermoFisher and BASF.”
The University of Glasgow-led AQUASENSE initiative has received €4.1m in funding. A collaboration led by the School of Engineering’s Professor Ravinder Dahiya, the School of Geographical and Earth Science’s Professor Susan Waldron, and the School of Mathematics and Statistics’ Professor Marian Scott, the project will develop advanced new technology for monitoring water quality and provide multidisciplinary training to 15 early stage researchers.
The project will exploit the latest advances in the field of flexible and printed electronics, autonomous sensor systems, wireless communication, autonomous underwater robots and drones to improve the data gathering and AI methods and modelling to improve the analysis of water quality data. The project will involve experts from academia and industry in the UK, Germany, Ireland, Serbia, Sweden, Italy, Poland, Austria and Estonia.
The €4.1m NeuTouch project, led by the Fondazione Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia in Italy, will also include a major research contribution from Prof Ravinder Dahiya alongside collaborators from academia and industry in the UK, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Italy, Switzerland and Iceland.
Prof Dahiya’s Bendable Electronics and Sensing Technologies (BEST) Group will play fundamental role of developing novel self-powered and neural inspired or neuromorphic touch sensors. By identifying the neuronal processing principles, neuTouch will guide the design of novel sensing devices and algorithms to improve the tactile perception in robots and prostheses.
Professor Dahiya said: “I’m pleased and proud to be involved in both the AQUASENSE and NeuTouch projects, which will extend my current research to exciting new areas and provide valuable new training opportunities for early career researchers.”
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