Research Spotlight

Expanding research and innovation in Tunisia

Steinbeis Team North-East offers biotech industry support

The EU project Bioprotech, coordinated by the Tunisian research institute “Centre de Biotechnologie de Sfax – CBS,” aims to expand the knowledge-based biotech industry in Tunisia. After three years, the project has come to a successful end: The number of technology transfer projects has risen, and new European research and development partnerships have emerged. The Steinbeis Team North-East initiated the project and served as a partner throughout its duration.

Next to Tunis, the Sfax region is the most economically booming region in Tunisia. It has a solid infrastructure and countless research facilities. The aim of the Bioprotech project at the CBS was to increase the amount of research and development in bioprocess technologies by supplementing the current mix with research in the areas of biosecurity, microarrays and fermentation. This opened up opportunities for crosspollination between the agriculture, environment and health industries, as well as for new partnerships with neighboring countries and the EU.

To achieve this, Steinbeis worked with other European partners and the employees of the CBS management and technology teams to develop innovation projects such as a collective platform for disease screenings, modern process engineering, or diagnostics in veterinary medicine. The Steinbeis team was responsible for training and coaching CBS scientists on the ins and outs of the European Development Programme. As a result, two new EU projects have already been launched at CBS. This has strengthened employee growth numbers and given the CBS team experience with international collaboration. At the close of the project, Steinbeis Team North-East and the Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum carried out an evaluation, which yielded positive results: Competences in the areas of bioprocesses and transfer improved significantly. As part of its strategy for the future, the CBS plans to anchor itself in a marketoriented technology transfer network in Tunisia – similar to the way Steinbeis began in Baden-Wuerttemberg 30 years ago.

Tracing heavy metal ions

Necessary or toxic?

As a commodity, drinking water must meet high quality standards. This applies even when it is used for sparkling beverages or alcoholic drinks. Heavy metal content like copper, iron and nickel are crucial dietary minerals for the human body, and are necessary for daily functions. But excessive levels can have serious health consequences, which is why the appropriate authorities regulate these substances. The Steinbeis Innovation Center for System Solutions in Measuring and Automation Technology is developing measurement instruments to monitor these limit values.

As part of a cooperative project with the Central Innovation Program for SMEs, Steinfurth Electromechanical Measuring Systems, SABO Electronics GmbH, Institute Mabel at Heidelberg University and the Uni versity of Saarland, Steinbeis experts are working on the development of a measurement tool for the monitoring of heavy metal content in drinking water and drinks. The measurement principle is based on the change in photophysical attributes of a fluorophore through resonant energy transfer (FRET) using an optomechanical sensor system. Taking the latest research into consideration, a compact and innovative instrument is being designed which can be implemented in industry in order to control the concentration of heavy metal ions.

Cooled to perfection

Mobile climate control

Heating and cooling of mobile spaces typically takes place via convective systems. Through constant air exchange with the environment, however, the produced heat or cold can quickly be lost. In a project by the Central Innovation Program for SMEs, the not-for-profit Steinbeis Transfer Center for Drive and Handling Technology in Mechanical Engineering in Chemnitz, in cooperation with the Saxon Textile Research Institute and an SME, developed a climate control component that significantly reduces losses.

The Steinbeis experts and the project partners created a mobile climate control system for use in event and emergency medical services tents, mobile hospitals and non-air conditioned rooms. The innovative system is equipped to heat and cool the appropriate spaces. Energy transfer takes place mostly through radiation, so the heating system is directly integrated into the climate control component. Cooling elements are fed in from an external system. The modular construction enables a high degree of adaptability to the given conditions. The technology has been patent protected.

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