EU Structural Funds

Proof of Concept (PoC) funding

The University of Eastern Finland started Proof-of-Concept (PoC) funding to accelerate the commercialization of ideas emerging from research. 
The funding intends for the creation of clearly defined business opportunity plans that can be utilized later on in applications for external funding, such as Tekes and EU funding, in the establishment of start-up companies, or in licensing for an existing company. 

Funded ideas 2019

Kaisa Pihlainen: Adot - Adaptable software for data collection and transcription, School of Educational Sciences and Psychology

Various electronic platforms and software are used in data collection for scientific and commercial research purposes. A current digitalized world has an increasing need for versatile research data that is collected in an ethically responsible way. Especially a growing amount of older adults stays behind the development if their needs and interests are not properly taken into account in collecting research data. Also youth, people with disabilities and immigrants can be seen as groups that need extra support for the use of digital services. Adot is a web-based application that provides an easy-to-use, effective and ethically responsible solution to collect research data and feedback. The application will be adapted to the individual needs of research participants and researchers by, for example, providing speech to text functionalities and a flexible adjustment of the interface. The versatile application offers a tool for collecting even more reliable data for research and development.

 

Matthieu Roussey: Integrated innovative sensors (IIS), Department of Physics and Mathematics

We propose to develop a very innovative biosensor based on the preliminary studies carried out in the Integrated Optics group at the Department of Physics and Mathematics. The goal is the use of flat optics devices on the novel strip-loaded slot waveguide platform to sense refractive index variations. The platform eases the functionalization of the surface for labelled sensing of molecules. The device is disposable, compatible to mass-fabrication, and low cost. These disruptive technique and technology are not mature yet. This proof-of-concept project will bring to the idea the knowledge mandatory for larger project involving industry and academic partners.

 

Roman Bednarik: AR enhanced mobile phone microsurgical training part II, School of Computing

In microsurgery, the surgeons use a surgical microscope to operate on very small-scale structures. To perform these operations successfully, the surgeon is required to have extremely skilled eye-hand coordination, and developing this skill necessitates a lot of practice. Currently, opportunities for hands-on practice are limited. Our PoC project aims to develop a commercial mobile phone application that utilizes augmented reality to enable the practice of these skills without a surgical microscope. The application tracks the userstool movements under the mobile phones camera, and using augmented reality, presents the user with tasks that simulate real microsurgical challenges while evaluating their performance and giving feedback in real time.

 

Sarka Lehtonen: Patient-derived blood-brain barrier platform, A.I.Virtanen Institute for Molecular Sciences

Understanding the distribution of drugs into the brain is important for both drugs with targets in the CNS and for non-CNS drugs. For CNS drugs, suitable blood-brain-barrier (BBB) permeability is needed for the drug to reach its target and to achieve the desired pharmacological effect. With drugs targeted to other tissues, penetration into the brain can result in unwanted and potentially toxic side effects. For this reason, there is vast interest in finding simple and efficient low-cost, high throughput methods to evaluate the BBB permeability of drug candidates as early as possible in drug discovery. Currently, no method meets all these requirements. This project aims at developing a human cell-based BBB platform utilizing stem cell technology and cells derived at UEF. This platform can be offered as service for academic researchers, research institutes, and pharmaceutical companies to be used in drug screenings, toxicity tests and biomarker screens for diagnosis and drug design.

 

Funded ideas 2018

Tarja Malm: Extracellular vesicles in Alzheimer’s disease diagnostics, A.I.Virtanen Institute

Despite the enormous effort to develop therapies to slow or stop Alzheimer’s disease progression, there are no disease-modifying treatments near the market. At the time of the current diagnosis, the neuronal death is beyond repair. Thus, new biomarkers are urgently needed. The aim of this project is to show a proof-of-concept for the utility of extracellular vesicles in biomarker discovery in Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Roman Bednarik: AR-enhanced mobile phone microsurgical training, School of Computing

In this project we will build a proof of concept of AR enhanced surgical training. A team of interactive technologies researchers and clinicians will join forces to establish a proof of relevance by implementing and testing the novelty system.

 

Funded ideas 2017

Annakaisa Haapasalo: From preclinical markers of neuronal damage to biomarkers for brain diseases, A.I.Virtanen Institute for Molecular Sciences

Currently, there are no suitable biomarkers for early diagnosis or estimating therapeutic efficacy in neurodegenerative brain diseases. This project aims at creating multiplex platforms utilizing the ultrasensitive single molecule array (Simoa) technology for novel candidate molecules indicating neuronal damage, which have been identified at UEF. These platforms will be offered as service for researchers, research institutes, and pharmaceutical and bioscience companies to be used in the characterization of cell-based or animal disease models, preclinical animal studies, and biomarker and drug research in patients.

 

Harri Kokko: Arctic light, Department of Environmental and Biological Sciences

The aim is the development of the closed re-cycling method for arctic bramble production, enabling energy-efficient and year-round farming in LED plant factories, in order to get rid of t disease and pest problems of open field cultivation.

 

Jussi Paananen: PharmAI – artificial intelligence for pharma development, School of Medicine

Drug development companies are in a trouble. There is a lack of new innovative drugs and therapies, while bringing a new drug to market costs  $2.6 billion on average. Industry deeply needs new ways to boost and optimize drug development processes. At the same time, new biomarkers are needed for planning and monitoring personalized precision treatments. Our solution is a web-based artificial intelligence system, which integrates open and closed data, while providing a researcher friendly user interface that can be used to discover and evaluate novel drug targets and biomarkers. Our solution is based on our long research and software development background, and the real market need expressed by pharmaceutical companies. Our solution scales to bring the system available for all pharma industry players. 

 

Matthieu Roussey: SoILeaf: Additional layer enhancing commercial solar panel efficiency, Department of Physics and Mathematics

Solar energy is abundant but can sometimes be difficult to capture, depending on the country latitude for instance. Solar panels should remain discreet to not modify the city’s landscapes. Solar cells should be more efficient to save the amount of solar panels needed per unit of energy collected and therefore save material resources. We propose the development of a solar cell enhancer. The goal of the project is the setting up of a demonstrator showing that we can accomplish at large production scale and low cost the three challenges stated above.

 

Pasi Tavi: Mathematical modelling of cell- and tissue physiology, A.I.Virtanen Institute for Molecular Sciences

This project aims to develop a platform of mathematical cell models for simulation of variety of cell types, based on mathematical models developed in basic research. Especially the project aims at elucidating the commercial potential of the developed solutions.