Industry Liaison Office

Current Projects

The latest call for proposals by the Innovation Grants has just ended. Deadline for the next proposals is 28.02.2020.

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 28.02. and 31.08.).

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

Barbara Bergmann: Police risk assessment of juvenile offenders

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

Nadine Schilling:  Structure optimization and increased efficacy of the new antibiotic lugdunin for clinical application as an antibiotic drug against infections caused by gram-positive pathogens

Maximillian Priester-Lasch:  Interchange - intercultural change management

Fabian Schrodt:   Cognitive game characters and general AI in games

Simon Drescher:  Disruptive rhetorikc- strategic promotion of innovation in companies

Wolfgang Fuhl: Framework for automated annotation of training datasets for computer vision algorithms and training of useable models

Stefanie Maurer: Validation of strategies for the therapeutic neutralisation of RANKL in tumor patients

Martin Pflügler: Development and characterisation of a bi-specific FLT3xCD3 antibody for the treatment of leukemia

Nevena Tomasevic: Development of a source-to-sink stratigraphic prediction framework

Jonathan CottonDevelopment and optimization of clinically translatable PET probes for in vivo detection of cellular senescence

Ramon Ziai: Automatic assessment and interactive feedback in complex task types for the modern teaching of foreign languages

Björn Watzer: Biotechnological production of native cyanophycin from cyanobacteria

 

Innovation Grants Kuebler

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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Bergmann klein2

Barbara Bergmann: Police risk assessment of juvenile offenders

Police officers have nothing but their experience to estimate the criminal risk of juvenile offenders. Latest findings show that their estimate is highly biased. Together with state criminal police offices we aim at developing a screening for the police officers to systematically identify 'hot spots' and potentials in the young delinquents’ lives to find an effective way of preventing further criminal behavior.
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Innovation Grants Brilisauer

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

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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Innovation Grants 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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Innovation Grants Schilling

Nadine Schilling:  Structure optimization and increased efficacy of the new antibiotic lugdunin for clinical application as an antibiotic drug against infections caused by gram-positive pathogens

Pathogenic bacteria are posing an increasing threat to human health, as many available antibiotics are losing their efficacy due to the emergence of resistance. Therefore, there is an urgent demand for novel antibiotic structures. In 2016, the discovery of lugdunin was published. Lugdunin shows antimicrobial activity against a range of gram-positive pathogenic bacteria such as multidrug resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Lugdunin proved to be efficient in mouse models and so far no development of resistance has been observed. As part of the Innovation Grant, the economic potential of lugdunin as a new lead structure for antibiotics will be explored. For this purpose, lugdunin and a synthetic derivative with higher activity will be investigated in cooperation with the institute of mircobiology (IMIT), the university hospital and external companies. The collected data will form the basis for the therapeutic clinical application of lugdunin as a potent novel antibiotic.
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Innovation Grants Priester Lasch

Maximillian Priester-Lasch: Interchange – Intercultural Change Management

The Indian market is becoming increasingly interesting for German companies. Baden-Württemberg and the economically most important Indian federal state Maharashtra have intensified their cooperation since the start of their state partnership in 2015. However, a large percentage of all German-Indian joint ventures fail within the first three years. So called soft factors such as informal hierarchies, language barriers or differences in organizational culture are usually responsible for the failure. Mr. Priester-Lasch's dissertation project focussed on this particular situation. He analysed the organizational cultural integration of several business units of a German company at an Indian subsidiary. The long-term supervision of the project resulted in extensive desiderata for the implementation of intercultural change management in German-Indian cooperation. The dissertation project was funded by Collaborative Research Center 923 "Threatened Orders" and was located at the chair of Prof. Dr. Gabriele Alex at the Department of social and cultural Anthropology, at the Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies. The project Interchange supported by the Innovation Grant and in cooperation with MTO GmbH and Indo-German Society e.V. develops a consulting concept for internationally oriented companies that enter into a joint venture with a corporation in India, establish an Indian branch or plan changes in an existing branch on the subcontinent. The consulting concept is intended to support German companies in identifying any organisational cultural conflicts and to react to them with appropriate measures and/or to prevent internal conflicts all together.
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Innovation Grants Schrodt

Fabian Schrodt: Cognitive Game Characters and General AI in Games

Artificial intelligence research paved the way for groundbreaking successes in recent years, leading to new commercial products on new markets. These successes were achieved not least by drawing inspiration from the cognition of intelligent beings to develop more general learning algorithms, which could be applied to highly diverse problems. In contrast, intelligent and even faulty behavior of computer game characters is still mostly rule-based, static, specialized, and the result of effortful scripting. This project funded by the Innovation Grant serves the goal to equip game characters with a cognitively plausible, flexible and learning mind. It aims at developing an innovative and contemporary AI architecture for the games market in order to establish a new concept of gaming. By investigating neurocomputational principles of social intelligence, and by embedding a cognitive architecture in a Super Mario clone, Mr. Schrodt layed the groundwork for this project in which a commercial game for mobile devices will be developed as proof of concept.
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Simon Drescher: Disruptive Rhetoric - strategic promotion of innovation in companies

In our times the constant pressure to innovate translates into a requirement for businesses and companies to integrate business development units with highly efficient and agile work processes. Those units, meaning innovation labs and think tanks, but more generally all continuous improvement processes are in need for methods to question strategically existing structures, products or forms of project organization. The goal in most cases is to expand the development potential of the company. These processes can also be described as highly complex communication processes, because they require the breakdown of old conceptions and traditional ways of thinking, which have been condensed in fixed narratives. From a theoretical point of view operational doubt has to be raised in a productive manner, so new convictions and forms of decision making can be established. For this reason, the whole communication process requires a competence in what we call disruptive rhetoric. With disruptive rhetoric we mean specific strategic communicative procedures of questioning and reestablishing certainty, so a new form of decision can be made. This project plans to develop an applicable framework for this new concept. Rhetorical practices and techniques will therefore be utilized by a process manager for innovation advancing reflections and the subsequent state of creativity.
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Wolfgang Fuhl: Framework for automated annotation of training datasets for computer vision algorithms and training of useable models

There are innumerable applications for algorithms from machine learning, especially in the field of image analysis. The training is based on ground truth data, which has to be annotated. This annotation requires a considerable amount of time, since it is usually done manually. In this project, a prototype of an annotation software for the automated annotation of structures in image data is being extended from previous work developed during my PhD thesis. This software is to be licensed to companies. In the current state, this framework already contains a number of procedures for the precise, fully automatic annotation of images. Originally, this prototype was used in the field of eye-tracking for the annotation of eye images (pupil, eyelids, etc.). These ground truth datasets have been made publicly available, which enabled the training of deep convolutional neural networks. The annotation software is extended to enable the applicability to any image-related annotations. Two scenarios are planned for marketing: (1)  The creation of large annotated datasets for model training. Here, the main applications are image-based systems for autonomous driving and medical image processing. (2) The second scenario deals with the automatic training of models. The benefit here is that pretrained models are integrated into customer software via the framework and interchangeable without updating the software. These applications could be used for the area of gesture control, eye-tracking, driver observation, and smartphone applications.
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Stefanie Maurer: Validation of strategies for the therapeutic neutralisation of RANKL in tumor patients

Disseminating tumors are among the major challenges in clinical oncology and mostly there remain no curative options. One of the main problems is that patients aquire resistance to available therapeutic agents. The number of new drug approvals in oncology is declining since the development and production of novel therapeutics is highly cost and time consuming as well as risky. Receptor Activator of Nuclear Factor κB and its ligand (RANK/RANKL) are mainly known for their role in bone metabolism, where RANKL activates osteoclasts thereby mediating reduction of bone. Meanwhile, a RANKL-neutralizing antibody termed denosumab is approved for treatment of benign and malignant osteolysis. Platelets express RANKL (platelet-derived, pRANKL) upon activation, which stimulates the cognate receptor RANK that is expressed on tumor cells, thereby facilitating metastasis and chemotherapy resistance of tumor cells. These effects can be overcome by neutralization of RANKL e.g. with denosumab. The influence of (p)RANKL on metastasis and chemotherapy resistance of various tumor entities will be characterized in detail within the Innovation Grant project. Due to the availability of the RANKL-neutralizing antibody denosumab, results can be directly transferred into clinical application. Such drug repurposing is highly attractive also from an economical point of view, as the highly cost and time consuming as well as risky requirements for drug production are already met.
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Martin Pflügler: Development and characterization of a bispecific FLT3xCD3
Antibody for the treatment of leukaemia

Recently, strategies to mobilize T cells against tumor cells have achieved spectacular success in cancer treatment: For example, bispecific antibodies directed with a "target part" against a tumor-associated antigen and an “effector part” stimulating the T cell receptor (TCR)/CD3 complex on T cells can successfully activate these cells against a tumor. The prototype of this substance class, Blinatumomab, has recently been approved for the treatment of lymphatic leukaemias as part of a break through designation. However, bispecific antibodies can also cause significant side effects through "off-target" - activation of T cells, which prevent the application of optimal doses. In the present project, Martin Pflügler has now transferred a novel format for bispecific antibodies to a FLT3xCD3 molecule, which can be used not only for the treatment of lymphatic leukaemias but also for myeloid leukaemias. The bispecific format of the antibody offers an extended half-life and thus reduced costs of goods as well as a more practicable application compared to other competing products currently under development. In this project the bispecific antibody (CC-2) will be further optimized and it shall also be shown that the effectiveness of the antibody can be further increased by a combination with TKIs. The aim of this work is to create the basis for a clinical study with the CC-2 antibody.
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Tomasevic HP mS

Nevena Tomasevic: Development of a source-to-sink stratigraphic prediction framework

High demands for resources forced companies to expand exploration frontiers to regions such as the deep ocean or below ice-sheets that are not always easily accessible and cost effective. Furthermore, the lowering of resource prices forced companies, especially oil and gas, to reduce costs and financial risks of their operations. With the help of the Innovation Grant, and in collaboration with industrial partners, this project will develop a source-to-sink stratigraphic prediction framework to improve predictions of sedimentary basin architecture hosting targeted resources. To produce more realistic models, this tool will use our understanding of the physics of the processes governing source- and sink-related sediment erosion, transport and deposition to predict distribution of sedimentary rocks in the basin. Application of the model will narrow down the search for resources on areas in the basins that host targeted resources. An a priori assessment like this can significantly reduce costs of exploration operations and place this source-to-sink stratigraphic prediction framework in a unique position on the market.
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Cotton HP2 mS

Jonathan Cotton: Development and Optimization of Clinically Translatable PET Probes for in vivo Detection of Cellular Senescence

Medical imaging plays a fundamental role in cancer detection, characterization, therapy management as well as longitudinal disease monitoring. The PhD work of Jonathan Cotton, which was driven by clinical demand, focused on developing and evaluating PET probes for the in vivo detection of cellular senescence, a biological process characterized by enduring growth arrest, which is mechanistically linked to aging and cancer. It plays important roles in both protecting from and initiating cancer. Tumor cells can be driven into senescence through chemotherapy, making senescence a preferable therapeutic goal. Owing to the complexity and ubiquity of senescence in cancer, imaging this process offers inordinate scientific, clinical and commercial benefit. Previous work produced several novel PET tracers, which were tested in vitro and in vivo in relevant senescence models. The most promising tracer [18F]FPyGal, a substrate of the gold standard biomarker senescence associated b-galactosidase, was further subjected to toxicity testing in rats, wherein it was deemed safe. [18F]FPyGal has already been administered to several patients before and after chemotherapy. Patents protecting tracers comprising the ß-galactoside and alpha-fucoside substructure have been filed. The aim of this project is to further the development of PET-based probes used to detect and quantify cellular senescence in vivo, which can benefit from improvements to pharmacokinetics and better cellular trapping. This project also aims to further investigate PET tracers probing other senescence biomarkers such as alpha-fucosidase, making necessary and meaningful contributions to this emerging field.


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Ziai HP mS

Ramon Ziai: Automatic assessment and interactive feedback in complex task types for the modern teaching of foreign languages

Leveraging the possibilities of digitalization in the area of education is one of the main challenges of our time. In the area of language learning, two key technologies play a larger role here:

i) Intelligent Tutoring systems, supporting individualized, sustainable learning with adaptive, immediate feedback and

ii) methods for the automatic assessment of complex task types.

In practice, complex open task types with free-text answers can currently only be assessed with significant manual labor. They do however play an important role in determining learner competence in language and content learning. For Intelligent Tutoring systems, research shows that they lead to substantial learning improvements. Individualized technological support of the learner also supports more equality in education, since learners are less dependent on the education level of their parents. On the basis of the dissertation and long-standing internationally successful research of Ramon Ziai on the automatic Content Assessment of answers to questions, this project aims to make use of the vast potential of Natural Language Processing in a real-life education context by developing two crucial components: an automatic assessment approach for institutional language testing, and an interactive feedback module for individual practice of learners. Concretely, this means that at the end of the funding period,software modules will exist for both components which can directly be integrated into the infrastructure of relevant partner institutions (learning management systems, testing frameworks) and applied in schools.
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Watzer HP mS

Björn Watzer: Biotechnological production of native cyanophycin from cyanobacteria

The importance of environmentally friendly production processes and biodegradable plastics increases more and more. Hence, Cyanobacteria are expected to play a major role in future industry, due to their ability to use sunlight and CO2 as energy and carbon source. Cyanobacteria have been identified as rich source of various biologically active compounds, biofertilizers, bioplastics, energy, food and feed. Most cyanobacteria are able to accumulate the industry relevant biopolymer Cyanophycin. Cyanophycin is a non-ribosomal synthesized polyamide consisting of the two amino acids, aspartate and arginine, forming a poly-l aspartic acid backbone with arginine side chains. In the last 20 years, research on Cyanophycin mainly focused on biotechnological purposes, like strain or process optimization. Most work has been carried out with cyanophycin from recombinant producer strains; however the biophysical properties of this heterologously produced polymer differ significantly from native cyanophycin. It was previously possible to create a high potent cyanobacterial Cyanophycin producer strain, named Synechocystis strain BW86. In the first part of the project, we will focus on process optimization to further increase the Cyanophycin production of strain BW86. In order to lower the production costs we will prove the usage of waste material as nitrogen or carbon source in the production process. The high yield of Cyanophycin provided by the strain BW86 allows us to establish new cooperation with research facilities with focus on polymer chemistry. In this second part of the project we will investigate the material properties of native Cyanophycin. We will further evaluate the possibilities of Cyanophycin derivatization by modifying the arginine side chains. The determination of the material properties is strictly required to develop concrete products made of Cyanophycin. The results of the first and second part will allow us to establish cooperation with different companies of the plastic-, food- and pharmaceutical industry. As a side project, we will analyze a novel proteinogenic nitrogen storage substance found in strain BW86 which lost the ability to accumulate cyanophycin. First experiments could identify this novel nitrogen storage substance as small proteins (<10 kDa to 20 kDa) with similar chemical properties as cyanophycin. Determination of the amino acid composition showed the presence of a strong dominant amino acid, which makes up to around 80% of the total amino acid composition. It is most likely that this dominant amino acid could be arginine or an arginine derivate. As a part of the project, we will evaluate the market potential of these newly discovered storage proteins.
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Call

Ausschreibung

Here you will find the details of the call for Innovation Grants for the natural and life sciences as well as for the humanities and social sciences.

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Current Projects

Projekte

The latest call for proposals by the Innovation Grants has just ended. Deadline for the next proposals is 28.02.2020.

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Former Projects

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