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Strengthening the Research potential of CAREESD in the field of Electromechanical Systems and Power Electronics for Sustainable Applications

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ESPESA (Strengthening the Research potential of CAREESD in the field of Electromechanical Systems and Power Electronics for Sustainable Applications)

Reporting period: 2017-03-01 to 2018-11-30

The mission of ESPESA project is to strengthen the research activity and to implement a Technology Transfer&Innovation Management (TTIM) strategy at Centre for Applied Research in Electrical Engineering and Sustainable Development (CAREESD) and contribute to its capacity building. Established in 2010 within Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania, CAREESD has been designed to catalyse R&D, technology transfer and innovation in electrical engineering and oriented it towards answering the challenges of a sustainable society. Since then the research activities at CAREESD are focused on designing, developing and validating technologies to make possible the implementation of advanced Electromechanical Systems and Power Electronics to transport and energy industry. As an overall approach, ESPESA will have an important impact to the capacity building and strengthening of CAREESD, supporting a long-term sustainability and viability of the centre, as an important incubator of excellent R&D activities and results, to be transferred in commercial products and services.
ESPESA was built around 4 challenging research topics, covering the existing and future research activities at CAREESD and at least 2 other ESPESA participants, aligned to the Horizon 2020 Societal Challenges. The research topics addressed development of new and innovative enabling technologies for electromechanical systems and power electronics in energy and transport applications, following several work programme topics under Secure, Clean and Efficient Energy and Smart, Green and Integrated Transport. Moreover, the research topics were aligned to two Smart Specialization Strategies at national level (Eco-technology and Energy and environment) and are complementary to a third one (Smart city).
The activities performed in the frame of ESPESA during the reporting period were organized into four categories:
- Short-time visits, facilitating the collaborative research, facilities sharing, new knowledge sharing/gaining experience new work environment.,
- Conference attendance, for networking and dissemination of the research work results;
- Exchange forums, as training events focused on a very specific and narrow topic;
- Training events as an important mechanism to reduce, if not eliminate, the gap between UTCN-CAREESD and the other ESPESA participants. Training equipped CAREESD researchers with knowledge and skills and encouraged them to build and enhanced their capabilities. Careful training needs assessment at CAREESD was performed priory developing ESPESA training events agenda.
The achievements of the ESPESA implementation for the reporting period are listed below:
- 25 researchers (8 females) conducted short visits for improving their research work through knowledge and facilities sharing;
- 2 exchange forums were organized;
- 8 training events were organized;
- 3 proposals were submitted under Horizon 2020 (one was funded, one is under evaluation and one was rejected);
Focus in the project was given especially to younger scientists, as they will carry out all future activities necessary for sustainable research partnership between EU R&D centres of excellence. Due to the short visits and training events they had the opportunity to have access to information and being able to use very sophisticated equipment and information technologies. All the young researchers of CAREESD were involved in one or more ESPESA activities. Some of them (4 PhD students, 3 males and one female), chose to continue their research work in companies and they will finalize and defend their PhD theses as employees of important companies (Porsche engineering, Bosch, Emerson). They will act as bridges between CAREESD and these companies, increasing in this way the collaboration between CAREESD and industry. Another group (5 PhD students) chose to stay in the university and involve in the R&D projects that started during the reporting period. They will defend their theses in 2019 and they will continue being part of CAREESD. Two of them are taking over the coordination of R&D work in collaboration and for private Romanian companies in the frame of a larger project, under structural funds (urbivel.utcluj.ro). One contract started in July 2018, the second one will start in February 2019.The young permanent research and teaching staff of CAREESD acted either as initiators or were invited as partners for preparing successful proposal for national calls (2 permanent research and teaching staff) or took over the coordination of contracts working for Romanian companies (one contract with Continental Sibiu and one with DeLonghi Cluj). Moreover, one young permanent research and teaching staff was invited to prepare a proposal under structural funds by a Romanian Company (IIRUM Reghin). The proposal is under evaluation. Moreover, due to the involvement of support staff (mainly master students hired as research engineers), ESPESA created a “nursery” of young researchers for supporting a sustainable CAREESD activity.
The activities performed under ESPESA had an important impact on CAREESD level. Strengthening the research potential by collaborative research with top-level research institutions in Europe and performing advanced scientific work led to the consolidation of CAREESD position among other R&D centres in UTCN and in Romania. CAREESD is the biggest R&D research centre in UTCN and one of the largest academia R&D centres in Romania. Moreover, the development of a TT&IM strategy, based on a serious market analysis, provided a new vision at CAREESD, increasing the perspectives for future industrial implementation of the R&D results. We envisage that CAREESD will apply for funds (using Cohesion Funds as funding scheme) in order to create and implement a start-up or a spin-off company at UTCN focused on engineering services in the field of ESPE for a wide range of applications, extending it from energy and transport to industrial and medical/health application.
ESPESA represented an important step forward in the participation of CAREESD, and UTCN implicitly, as important partner in setting-up new collaborative projects, under national and European calls, but also directly with industrial actors. Moreover, ESPESA demonstrated that a solid background and a well-structure R&D strategy led to important funds attraction (see Section 1.2.5 and Annex 3) and as consequence made CAREESD more attractive for the undergraduates and graduates and motivate them to follow a R&D career in Romania. Two PhD graduates are involved in the R&D projects at CAREESD, 7 new PhD students and 8 master students joined CAREESD in the last 2 years.
The implementation of ESPESA had a significant impact on the development of new advanced technologies for electromechanical systems and power electronics for energy and transport applications for CAREESD, but also for its ESPESA partners. In addition, results of the proposed research work added important knowledge in emerging technologies like high speed machines, high frequency power converter, renewable energies-based conversion systems, alternative EV/HEV power sources applications, smart grid technologies, etc. These led to enhanced number of presentations at international conferences (53) and publication of scientific papers in indexed and cited international journals (12) and more active participation in future relevant European research activities.