Research Spotlight

DanuBalt Optimises Application of Research Findings in the Baltic and Danube Region

Steinbeis takes the lead in the EU funded initiative

The EU-funded project DanuBalt facilitates networking between the two macro regions around the Baltic Sea and countries along the Danube River. Under the coordination of Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum (SEZ), six partner organisations from Denmark, Germany, the UK, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Hungary are analysing different ways to successfully market healthcare innovations. 

The results of the analysis will be used to identify ways to turn investments in the regional health care systems into profitable products and solutions by leveraging funding in each macro-region as efficiently as possible. The DanuBalt project will also help build on synergies between the European structural funds and financing provided through the EU framework programme Horizon 2020.

SEZ conducted an evaluation of research activities in 2015 and carried out an online survey. Its findings were validated in three rounds of meetings with stakeholders in Jurmala, Bucharest, and Budapest, which were organised with representatives from industry, research, and politics. In late June 2016, SEZ also organised a DanuBalt stakeholder forum in Stuttgart involving relevant stakeholders active in the health care sector. Instruments are already in place to support research and innovation in the Baltic Sea region, especially in the field of health care, but progress is slower in the 14 Danube regions. As a result, the project partners have identified 10 examples of good practice and drafted a catalogue of research results, technology offerings, and EU partner searches containing over 120 examples of potential areas of cooperation. Four pilot initiatives are planned over the coming months. The aim is to keep up the momentum of measures already in place and to improve the competitiveness of the Danube region and the Baltic Sea.

The initiatives revolve around attracting specialists, providing support services for SMEs, education and entrepreneurship, innovation contests, and trans-national projects in the field of health care.

Smart Ways to Safeguard Research Data in the Long Term

Steinbeis experts develop online geodata framework

Research data is a highly valuable asset, especially considering the increasing role played by data in science. As a result, it is essential in interdisciplinary research to make research findings available online, also in order to safeguard such results in the long term. The Rostock-based Steinbeis Transfer Center for Geoinformatics has developed a state-of-the-art web-based geodata framework called GDI. It’s part of a BMBF project going by the name KüNO, which deals with coastal research around the North Sea and Baltic Sea.

The project was initiated by the IOW (the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research in Warnemünde) which heads up a broad consortium of marine research institutions in Germany. The aim of research is to improve the scientific fundamentals that affect how coastal resources are managed – with the ecosystem and sustainability in mind – and to make available any findings generated by science, practical application, and society in general. Findings will be posted on the KüNO data portal.

The new portal is broken down into three levels and is based on open source software. The first level is the opening section with a meta-information system called GeoNetwork, the next level contains services including a geo-server, and the final level provides data stored in a background database system using PostgreSQL. The data catalog has been designed to work on multiplayers layers. There is the web layer, which is the part seen by users on the screen. There is a service layer for offering standardized web services. Then there is a backend layer for storing user data, categories, data records, and other settings. The system also includes a harvesting function which can be used to integrate metadata conforming with the open geospatial consortium (OGC), plus data and services from other portals such as the German marine data infrastructure (MDI-DE).


Award for Laser Marking Microstructures onto Surfaces

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Frank Mücklich wins the Berthold Leibinger Award

Prof. Dr. Frank Mücklich, Prof. Dr. Andrés Lasagni, and ten of their colleagues at the Steinbeis Research Center, the Material Engineering Center Saarland (based at Saarland University), at TU Dresden, and at the Fraunhofer IWS have received one of two second prizes under the 2016 Berthold Leibinger Innovation Award. The award honors new developments in the field of applied laser technology and is one of the most important innovation and research prizes in the field of optics.

The water-repellent lotus effect and friction-reducing shark skin are two well-known examples of the functional benefits offered by nano-structured and micro-structured surfaces. A number of different processes are used to produce such effects, which depend on very specific requirements and the type of material used. One highly flexible method is to use lasers, which can even focus thermal application below the surface of the material in question and can be applied “cold” through ultra-short pulsing. One major challenge with lasers, however, is the processing time.

At the Saarland University, Mucklich has been working on combining the flexibility of lasers with processing larger areas by using a simple optical effect. He has discovered a half-way house solution combining longer-lasting spot application and less flexible stenciling techniques. Overlaying two or more laser beams makes it possible to create so-called interference patterns. These can be mapped and calculated to adjust the laser beams as required. As a result, intermittent micro and nano designs can be added to surfaces as wide as a laser beam, and by then combining lots of laser beams, millions or even billions of small structures can be created at once in a single sweep. These structures can be adjusted as required and can be used in the same way that a stamp can be used to add repeated patterns to materials. This technique can even be used to add structures to larger surfaces. Mücklich has been working on functional materials with a select group of specialists. These materials can perform a variety of different functions, and to ensure they are put to everyday use, he founded the Steinbeis Research Center Saarland in 2009 as a transfer organization for working in partnership with industry.

AGRIFORVALOR: Bringing added value to the agriculture and forest sector by valorizing sidestreams

SEZ leads this EU project

The EU has launched a project called AGRIFORVALOR with the aim of establishing a pyramid system for making use of residual materials generated through agriculture and forestry. The project will register materials stemming from agricultural side-streams (high potential waste, residues, and by-products).The project is coordinated by Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum (SEZ). The aim is to help promote a so-called Bio-economy 2.0 within Europe, which would not compete with food production.

To achieve these goals, a number of innovation partnerships are being set up to bridge the gap between research and innovation. The project encompasses 16 partners from 6 countries in Europe, ranging from people directly involved in everyday farming and forestry to experts in research and teaching, as well as SMEs from the bio-industry. Three biomass innovation design hubs are being set-up in Andalusia (Spain), Hungary, and Ireland to provide hub managers with advice and support on measures for processing certain kinds of sidestreams. The support includes training based on the requirements of key players and help them implementing business concepts by providing to-one mentoring and coaching. This will enable partners in the AGRIFORVALOR value chains to open the door to new commercial opportunities– locally, nationally, and on a European level. In the first months, project members of the University of Gent (Belgium) and Wageningen University (Netherlands) have worked with hub managers and partners from a variety of pilot regions and conducted desk research for the findings of research and development projects across Europe. Their focus will lie in exploring new techniques and processes that make it possible to process and exploit sidestreams generated by agricultural and forestry production. In parallel to this, the teams have investigated for examples of good practices in the pilot regions as well as other parts of the EU. These will demonstrate ways on how to generate income from sidestreams. The results will show successful cases as lighthouses in this new business field on new ways for exploitation and valorization of sidestreams rather than simply dispose or burn them. Initial findings have already been gathered in an interactive database called the Side-stream Value Tool, which was set up on the project website in September:


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