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Innovation Grants

The latest call for proposals by the Innovation Grants has just ended. Deadline for the next proposals is 31.08.2018.

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 28.02. and 31.08.) 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

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

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 inGames

 

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 31.08.2018.

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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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