Industry Liaison Office

Innovation Grants

The latest call for proposals by the Innovation Grants has just ended. Deadline for the next proposals is 31.03.2018.

The Innovation Grant call for proposals is a person-orientated support programme by the Excellence Initiative of the University of Tuebingen. It is awarded to young up-and-coming researchers in the natural sciences and life sciences as well as humanities and social sciences. They are given the opportunity of converting the results gained from their doctoral theses into utilisable processes, services or products.

To be considered, the projects have to demonstrate the prospect of being able to produce results that are commercially utilisable or that can establish themselves through these ventures with independent institutions.

The criteria for the award are the scientific quality of the work with regards to relevance, originality and up-to-dateness of the underlying work. Furthermore, the scientific background of the candidates, the innovation content of the application and its scientific attractiveness and viability will also be taken into account.

Applications are possible twice a year (Deadline 31.03. and 30.09.) and currently the call for proposals has just ended. Deadline for the next proposals is 30.09.2017.

Find out more: Innovation Grants (Sciences and Life Sciences) or (Humanities and Social Sciences)

 

An overview of currently supported Innovation Grant projects can be found here:

Thomas Christian Kübler Methods for the automated comparison of visual search paths in real settings

Rosi Bissinger:  Inhibition of the suicidal erythrocyte death - a novel strategy to treat anemia

Abhishek Thavamani:  Development of substances to treat liver cancer - interfering with the mitochondrial metabolism

Boris Benkner System for measuring the visual performance in mice

Florian Karlewski:  Line width analyzer: line width analysis of lasers with optical resonators

Julia Maier Disease-related cellular test systems for the identifiaction of modulators of tumor metastases - EMTSCREEN

Fabian Vogt Pre-clinical characterization of a bispecific antibody with the specificities PSMAxCD3

Shahram Eivazi:  Hands-free surgical microscope: From ocular-based to augmented reality-based microsurgery

Klaus Brilisauer:  A novel cyanobacterial compound with a potential antimicrobial and herbicidal effect

Eva Maria Brauchle:  Development of a Raman spectroscope-based platform for the medical diagnosis of body fluids

 

 

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Thomas Christian Kübler:  Methods for the automated comparison of visual search paths in real settings

The economic interest in the technology for recording eye movements, the so-called eye tracking, has risen rapidly in recent years. The Perception Engeneering working group of Junior Professor Enkelejda Kasneci at the Department of Technical Informatics has helped to make the technology robust for everyday applications. Originally it was developed for laboratory conditions. Mr. Kübler has investigated and implemented advanced methods for the automatic analysis and comparison of eye movement patterns in reality scenarios. Sequence-based features are used, which can represent the most important property of eye behavior as well as temporal frequency. Thus, the method is significantly more sensitive and at the same time more resistant to inaccuracies in measurement. In a cooperation with Daimler AG, the method was used to identify the negligence of the driver. It could be shown that the recognition of a certain secondary activity in autonomous driving is possible with a high precision when eye movement is restricted to five seconds. In principle, these methods are suitable for a variety of other interesting parameters which can be extracted from eye tracking data such as eye behavior during the viewing of art works as well as surgeons during microinvasive operations. Further possible applications include the assessment of a driver's ability to drive, the impact of marketing techniques and the design of advertising media and much more. Within the limits of the Innovation Grant support, these methods are to be adapted and further developed to the market maturity in order to be able to offer the automated analysis of visual paths as a service. 
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Rosi Bissinger:  Inhibition of the suicidal erythrocyte death - a novel strategy to treat anemia

The cause of anemia can have a variety of reasons. The consequences are a considerable restriction of the oxygen supply of the tissues and thus, the serious reduction of performance and quality of life. As a result of the research carried out at the Physiological Institute of the University of Tübingen, it was shown that anemia in renal insufficiency is approximately half the result of an increased suicidal erythrocyte death, the so-called eryptosis. Due to the increased eryptosis, in renal failure the erythrocyte count in blood is not normalized despite the addition of erythropoietin. During her PhD, Ms Bissinger was able to identify dietary supplements that could reduce or prevent renal insufficiency-related eryptosis. Thus, it is possible that the administration of these substances also reduce or even prevent anemia caused by age, sepsis, heart failure or sickle cell anemia. The substances identified by Ms Bissinger are to be tested for efficacy and prepared for a clinical trial within the limits of the innovation grant.
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Abhishek Thavamani:  Development of substances to treat liver cancer - interfering with the mitochondrial metabolism

Tumor diseases of the liver are among the most frequent human cancers with fatal outcome. At the same time, the currently available drug therapy options are very limited and allow only a limited extension of survival chances. Respectively, the interest in new targets and active substances is high. A completely novel development of drug discovery is to attack the metabolism of tumor cells as a target system for pharmacological intervention. Mr. Thavamani has identified the activation of the mitochondrial C1 metabolism as a characteristic of liver tumor cells. This opens up the use of selected enzymes of mitochondrial C1 metabolism as a novel oncological target structure for a new therapeutic approach. As part of his doctoral thesis, Mr. Thavamani has succeeded in developing cell lines from liver tumors where its progression can be specifically controlled via a recombinase, similar to an on / off switch. These cell lines can now be used as a model for testing substances. During the course of the Innovation Grant support, low-molecular substances are to be identified with the aid of computer-assisted modeling. Those substances can intervene in the enzyme functions of this metabolic pathway as well as in the cell growth of the liver cell carcinomas. These will be optimized, tested and prepared for clinical trials in the future. 
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Boris Benkner:  System for measuring the visual performance in mice

Research on blindness is often carried out in mice with similar disease patterns as in humans. This brings with it the problem of objectively assessing how well the animals can see. For this purpose Mr. Benkner further developed a test system ("OptoDrum") within the framework of his PhD thesis. The basis for this is an eye-follower reflex, which can be triggered by a moving environment. Since this reflex is present in almost all vertebrate animals, the test system can also be applied to many animal models used in research. The test system consists of four monitors that present the animal a virtual environment to trigger the reflex. The behavior of the animal is monitored from above by means of a video system and automatically evaluated using a self-developed animal identification and analysis software, which allows an objective behavioral analysis. In addition, the stimulus is adjusted depending on the behavior of the animal, so that the vision can be precisely determined. In the course of the Innovation Grant, Mr. Benkner and his team will integrate further improvements into the setup. The main focus is on the customer-oriented restructuring of the software design. But other customer requirements, such as changing the light conditions during the behavioral tests, are still to be implemented until the product will finally be introcued to the market. Mr. Benkner has already worked on the development of further products in the area of ​​behavioral monitoring and analysis for the longer-term future perspective. 
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Florian Karlewski: Line width analyzer: line width analysis of lasers with optical resonators

This project deals with the development of an instrument for the investigation of the spectral properties of lasers. The central element is an optical resonator with which, in particular, the spectral properties of narrow-band laser sources can be determined in a temporally resolved manner. This requirement is crucial for the development of new laser-based sensors as well as for quantum technologies. At the end of the Innovation Grant period, a compact laboratory model as a demonstrator is to be completed. Until then, further optimizations regarding the robustness against acoustic disturbances are carried out. Furthermore, Mr. Karlewski would like to create another prototype, which works on the basis of fiber resonators. With the combination of free-beam and fiber-based analyzers, the industry's broad demand for the analysis and stabilization of free-beam and fiber lasers can be covered. 
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Julia Maier: Disease-related cellular test systems for the identifiaction of modulators of tumor metastases - EMTSCREEN

The project focuses on tumor diseases of the lung, especially on the non-small-cell lung carcinoma. With approxamately 85% it displays the majority of all lung cancer diseases. The metastases emanating from these tumors can occur in almost all body regions, but especially in the lymph nodes, the brain, the bones and the liver. The identification of active substances with an anti-metastatic effect is particularly interesting for the development of new treatment strategies for cancer diseases. A cellular key process of the metastasization of tumors from epithelial primary tissue is the epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT). On the basis of her doctoral thesis, Ms Maier succeeded in developing intracellular fluorescent biosensors (chromobodies), which were integrated into the tumor model of the non-small-cell lung carcinoma for the detection of EMT. Based on these chromobody cell lines, 2D and 3D models will be developed, which, due to their phenotypic proximity to the tumor, allow for improved results in drug discovery. For the final development of the cell models for pharmaceutical screening campaigns and an associated option for commercialization, further extensive validation and proof-of-concept studies are being carried out during the course of the Innovation Grant. 
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Fabian Vogt:  Pre-clinical characterization of a bispecific antibody with the specificities PSMAxCD3

In the last few decades, the treatment and prognosis of some forms of cancer has been significantly improved by the use of chimerized and humanized antibodies. However, the therapeutic success of such substances, especially in the case of solid tumors, is still limited to this day. To optimize the antibody therapy of tumors, various strategies can be applied. One possibility is the development of bispecific antibody constructs. Bispecific antibodies have a target region that acts against a tumor-associated antigen, as well as an effector region for stimulating the T cell receptor. Such a bispecific antibody was developed by means of a newly generated PSMA antibody clone (10B3) for the recruitment of T cells, via CD3 at the University of Tübingen. This bispecific antibody was optimized for essential features (off-target T cell activation, serum half-life). With the help of Innovation Grant, important and necessary questions (in vivo model, pharmacokinetics, serum half-life) have been answered during the first year, which will be helpful in the approval of a planned study I / IIa. Furthermore, by prolonging the Innovation Grant, it is possible to further characterize the cytokine profile which is produced by the activation of the T cells by the bispecific antibody and, if necessary, to influence the possible side effects more effectively and to design the bispecific antibody more effectively.  
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Eivazi

Shahram Eivazi: Hands-free surgical microscope: from ocular-based to augmented reality-based microsurgery

In microsurgery, surgeons use a magnified view with miniaturized instruments to operate very small structures like a vessel under a surgical microscope. Present surgical microscopes need to be zoomed, focused and moved to illuminated target areas at various depths, where the tips of the micro-instruments are in a constant and bimanual flow of purposeful actions. The lack of an automatic method for adjusting the surgical microscope is a major problem that causes interruptions during microsurgery and may lead to errors, delays, undesirable situations and potential complications. In this project it is planned to build a 3D video streamer to produce a high-magnified live video. This video will then be integrated to a 3D viewer (a 3D screen can be any part of widely used VR- and AR glasses). A head and eye tracking hardware within the VR-glasses will be used to track the surgeon’s position and direction of attention. Next, an intelligent interface will be built to translate the positional signals from the surgeons’ head and eyes location to an adjustable motorized optical system.  
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Brilisauer

Klaus Brilisauer: tbd

The shikimat-biosynthesis represents an essential pathway for the synthesis of many aromatic compounds for plants and many microorganisms. Since this metabolic pathway is absent in humans and animals, its enzymes are attractive targets for the development of new, selective antimicrobial and herbicidal agents. The newly discovered cyanobacterial metabolite acts as a selective inhibitor of the shikimat-biosynthesis. The chemo-enzymatic synthesis, which was established in the research group, allows a fast and easy production of the substance. As part of the Innovation Grant, the economic potential of the active ingredient for optimal marketing will be clarified. For this purpose, the antimicrobial, antifungal and herbicidal properties of the substance will be investigated in joint cooperation of university and companies.
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Brauchle

Eva Maria Brauchle: Development of a Raman spectroscope-based platform for the medical diagnosis of body fluids

The removal of blood and the determination of blood values ​​are part of the routine control of medical examinations. In solid tumors, such as breast cancer, blood analyzes are often not meaningful enough to make a diagnosis. Here mainly mammography screening and biopsy sampling are used. New methods that can detect diseases based on a blood sample quickly and inexpensively are of great interest to medical diagnostics. Raman spectroscopy is a method by which the molecular composition of liquids and solids can be determined without contact. The method does not require expensive reagents, can be carried out on the smallest sample sizes and the results can be obtained within a few minutes. With the help of the Innovation Grant, a concept for a Raman spectroscopy-based analysis platform will be developed, which will allow to analyze body fluids. For this purpose, an efficient sample format suitable for screening procedures should be developed first. In addition, critical parameter for measurement and samples must be identified. The clinical relevance of the technique should be substantiated by examining blood sera of control and breast cancer patients. The blood sera are provided from a biobank of the University Women's Clinic, Tübingen for the project. 
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Scientific Report

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The first Scientific Report of the University of Tuebingen has been completed and can be downloaded as PDF.

 

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Innovation Grants

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The latest call for proposals by the Innovation Grants has just ended. Deadline for the next proposals is 31.03.2018.

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At the University of Tuebingen a new Center of Competence will be established in the field of "Material Sciences of Archaeometry" which is funded by the Ministry of Science, Research & Arts Baden-Wuerttemberg, the company Helmut Fischer GmbH in Sindelfingen and the Excellence Initiative of the University of Tuebingen.

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