24. November 2023

Prototyping grants #3: AI for research infrastructures, sustainable robots and antiviral nasal spray Prototyping grants #3: AI for research infrastructures, sustainable robots and antiviral nasal spray

Transfer Center supports innovative product developments

Innovations in AI-assisted social sciences, sustainable agriculture and medicine are being funded in the third round of prototyping grants by the Transfer Center enaCom at the University of Bonn. Whether an AI solution for better understanding of scientific communities, a robot that treats weeds differently depending on the species, or a preventive nasal spray - scientists from the University of Bonn and the University Hospital Bonn are developing innovative prototypes for practical challenges of our time. With the prototyping grants, their research findings are prepared for a planned commercialization. The grants with a funding amount of up to €50,000 are regularly awarded by the Transfer Center.

Prototyping grants from diverse disciplines
Prototyping grants from diverse disciplines © Volker Lannert/ University of Bonn, colourbox
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AI-assisted analytics empower research infrastructures

“Our vision is to equip research infrastructures with AI-assisted analytics to better understand the dynamics of their user communities and complex collaborative ecosystems,” explains Dr. Katharina C. Cramer, historian and social scientist at the Center for Advanced Security, Strategic and Integration Studies (CASSIS) of the University of Bonn. Together with Kristofer R. Söderström (Lund University) and Nicolas V. Rüffin (CASSIS), she is developing AI-assisted analytics that deciphers the intellectual, social, and geographical dynamics within user communities and collaborative ecosystems. Their solution will support research infrastructures in their ability to make informed decisions, fostering their socio-economic impact and innovative potentials. During the prototyping project “Tiller – an AI-assisted platform for research infrastructures and their user communities,“ Dr. Katharina C. Cramer and her team partner with the European XFEL, an international research infrastructure that provides the strongest X-ray laser beam in the world to thousands of users.

Making weeding robots smart and bio-diversity aware

A smart weeding trailer for farmers is being developed by Alireza Ahmadi (PhD candidate at the Agricultural Robotics and Engineering Department and the Cluster of Excellence "PhenoRob", University of Bonn) and his team.  It consists of a vision system software to detect specific weeds and a weeding interaction tool to perform precise weed management according to the detected weed species. The system recognizes the biological diversity of a specific field: it understands the individual conditions of the growing plants and weeds and reacts to them. “Our smart weeding trailer will help farmers to reduce or eliminate the use of herbicides, resulting in a reduction in costs in their operations and a reduction in chemical pollution in the environment,” explains Alireza Ahmadi, explaining the benefits of the so-called “Bio-Diversity Aware Multi-Nozzle High Precision Weeding Trailer". The solution comes at a time of increasing herbicide resistance, regulatory restrictions on herbicide use, and rising labor costs and staff shortages. There is therefore an additional benefit in organic farming, where mechanical methods are primarily used to control weeds. Through selective control, ecologically important weeds can be spared and thus increase biodiversity in the field. It is supervised by Prof. Chris McCool, head of the agricultural robotics and agricultural engineering working group at the University of Bonn. Other team members are Dario Schulz, Patrick Zimmer and Dr. Oliver Schmittmann.

Coldex - Nasal spray provides protection from viral infections 

A team at the University Hospital in Bonn is developing "Coldex", a nasal spray for the prophylaxis of infections with respiratory viruses. The spray activates an alarm system that warns cells of a viral threat, and triggers an antiviral defense system that allows cells to efficiently fight and repel invading viruses. "We use a synthetic immunostimulatory nucleic acid to turn on our body's own antiviral defense system" says Dr. Christine Wuebben, explaining the mechanism of the prototype. The approach was developed by a team of scientists in the group of Gunther Hartmann at the Institute of Clinical Chemistry and Clinical Pharmacology and the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation2. The spray has potential to slow seasonal cold outbreaks and perhaps even prevent future pandemics of respiratory viruses. The team is now working on the pre-clinical development of the prototype and hope to rapidly bring it onto the market. 

Funding by the Transfer Center

"This third round of prototyping grants shows once again that we have a very diverse potential for innovation at the University of Bonn. This time, we are particularly pleased to be funding validation projects from three very different faculties and disciplines," says Sandra Speer, Head of enaCom. The projects will be closely supported on their way to the market by the Transfer Center's start-up consulting team. The funding is offered by enaCom and financed by the ESC (Excellence Startup Center) individual project "U-Bo-Grow" of the University of Bonn. It is funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Protection and Energy (MWIKE) of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. A next call will follow at the beginning of 2024.

To the press release of the University of Bonn:
https://www.uni-bonn.de/en/news/prototypisierungsgrants-3-ki-fuer-forschungsinfrastruktur-nachhaltige-roboter-und-antivirales-nasenspray?set_language=en | 24.11.2023

If you are interested in the funding line, please contact:

Dr. Alexander Küsshauer, Start-Up Advisor
+49 228 73-62026

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