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Fostering excellence in material physics innovation in the Baltics

Latvia University’s Institute of Solid State Physics is on its way to becoming a hub for collaboration between science and industry.
Fostering excellence in material physics innovation in the Baltics
Research and innovation are instrumental in building a prosperous future for Europe. However, despite the significant efforts being made at national and EU levels, there are certain obstacles that hamper the development of research and innovation. One important stumbling block is that there aren’t enough centres of research and excellence to propel Europe towards sustained and strategically innovative growth.

Launched in 2017, the EU-funded project CAMART2 is focusing on one particular centre of excellence: the University of Latvia’s Institute of Solid State Physics (ISSP UL). Its vision is to upgrade and establish the ISSP UL as a key centre of excellence for education, science, innovation and technology transfer in the Baltic countries. Already one of Latvia’s leading research institutions, the ISSP UL will become a hub for a joint collaboration and technology transfer platform for material physics based on high technologies.

Through CAMART2, the ISSP UL is further focusing on education and undertaking an overhaul of the University’s master’s programme in physics to make it relevant to projected industrial needs. Similar upgrades are also planned for the University’s doctoral programme.

Making materials design and innovations beneficial to industry

The ISSP UL’s goal is to improve and enhance collaboration with industry in Latvia and abroad. To achieve this, it has set up a platform intended to serve as a single point of contact for scientists and companies. Named Materize, the platform provides access to the ISSP UL’s expertise and resources while also facilitating communication with companies for the purpose of realising projects based on industry-specific standards. Current case studies being undertaken include a prototyping facility for cleanrooms, organic light-emitting diodes, optical lithography, vacuum deposition of thin films and composite nanomaterials synthesis.

“History shows that Latvia has always been a centre for high technologies. I believe that we have all the necessary preconditions to make Latvia such a centre again,” said Andris Anspoks, ISSP UL’s Deputy Director for Innovation, in a news item posted on ‘Scitech Europa’. “The goal of the ISSP UL is to develop technologies using innovative materials, which help in the creation of new products in the industry of high technologies.”

Fostering high-tech ideas

Upon its launch in May 2018, Materize hosted its first event, the Deep Science Hackathon 2018. The Hackathon’s goal was to identify high-tech ideas and find teams for their implementation, with a view to creating new products and companies that would contribute to the Baltic region’s high-tech industry.

Within 48 hours, participants had to form interdisciplinary teams with which to work on their previously submitted ideas. Aided by mentors, the teams then had to develop these ideas and present their commercialisation plan at the end of the event to a jury composed of scientists, investors and interested persons. The best ideas would receive further support from the CAMART2 partners over 6 months. The winning idea, judged to have the greatest business potential, was a bracelet with an embedded optical sensor for measuring a person’s vitamin D levels.

Throughout its 7-year term, CAMART2 (Centre of Advanced Materials Research and Technology Transfer CAMART2) will be focusing on achieving three strategic objectives. It aims to increase the level of research commercialisation, enhance collaboration between entrepreneurs and academics, and support joint research and faster technology transfer through its platform.

For more information, please see:
CAMART2 project website

Source: Based on project information and media reports

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