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VTT Impresses through Market-Oriented R&D

At the first Innovation Forum for Micro Technologies held on January 21, 2009 in Villingen-Schwenningen, Southern Germany, VTT impressed decision-makers from the European micro technology industry by its ready-to-implement solutions for medical and industrial applications.

The event fostered application development and industrial implementation of the latest ideas and inventions from research. Scientists presented results of their ongoing work, outlined product proposals, and offered prototypes for commercialization from various areas of micro systems technology. Industry representatives had the chance for mutual exchange of information and technology experts offered assistance in developing options for commercialization.

In his keynote on Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) for energy harvesting, Jérémie Bouchaud, Director and Principal Analyst, MEMS with the market research firm iSuppli, warned of undifferentiated technology euphoria. Technical novelties are going to make their way only where they present added value to the end user or members of the supply chain. According to his analysis there are good chances in the automotive industry where energy-autonomous sensor systems may be embedded into intelligent tyres.
Handheld lateral strip reader from VTT
Handheld lateral strip reader from VTT.

Acoustic MEMS sensor chip from VTT with MID housing
Acoustic MEMS sensor chip from VTT with MID housing.
  Particularly for companies of the Mittelstand, micro systems technology has the potential to open up novel business fields in bio- and medical device technology, according to Roland Zengerle, Professor at the Institute of Microsystems Technology (IMTEK) of Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg and Co-Director of HSG-IMIT, an Institute of Hahn-Schickard-Gesellschaft e.V. He referred to positive results of clinical trials at implantable medication dosage systems and initial success with transdermal medication patches. In the field of Lab-On-Chip he reported on the development of a Bio-Disc platform for biochemical analyses. Low-cost disposable fluidic chips are combined to a system with a durable handheld operating and readout device.

“Particularly in application areas that are as complex as biotechnology, inter-disciplinary research and development strategies pay of”, explained Johannes Frech, Founder and Director of innevo consulting. His organization specializes in commercializing micro technologies and in innovation management for SMEs. “VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland made this integrative approach a virtue and therefore is able to offer its industrial partners that added value which finally created crucial competitive advantage.”

The institute combined its competences in micro biology, optical sensor systems, electronic signal processing, and manufacturing technology for developping new methods and robust devices for mobile bio-analysis. The devices’ compact dimensions, their low power consumption and standardized interfaces for wireless data enable applications beyond point-of-care. These may be in environmental analysis, drug abuse, or emergency care.

Participants received further proof of the high quality of VTT’s R&D by a presentation from Kaj Nummila, Customer Manager, Sensor and Instruments with the Finnish service provider. He impressed the audience with micromechanical pressure sensors, which feature monolithically integrated CMOS electronics. Due to their small dimensions of less than 1x1 mm² they are especially suited for minimally-invasive surgery and in-vivo diagnostics. Kaj Nummila introduced also acoustic sensors for use in harsh environments, in which these devices are exposed to strong vibrations, extreme temperatures and aggressive chemical media. Customized sensor systems are used by partner companies in industry already today; they can be easily adapted to chemical and pharmaceutical process technology, and to food processing.

VTT’s networking abilities and its strong ties to peer institutes became obvious by its mentioning in other scientific presentations. Partnerships were mentioned for example by Ulrich Krühne, Teamleader Microfluidics with the Danish Technological Institute in Taastrup near Copenhagen in his speech about rapid prototyping. Another reference was by Cristina Rusu, Professor at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg and R&D Leader Micromechanical Systems with Imego AB. For a common project VTT contributes RFID technology for labels with embedded sensors.
 
For copies of VTT presentations and further information on VTT projects and lincensing opportunities please contact
Johannes Frech
Telephone: +358 50 3395599
E-mail: johannes.frech@innevo.fi
www.innevo.fi.

More about VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland can be found at www.vtt.fi.

Posters of all the projects presented can be downloaded from the webpages of the Innovation Forum, www.innovation-forum.eu.
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