Examples of Projects with Industry partners

From technology platforms to real-life applications

The exchange of ideas, observations, and experimental results between researchers is the basis for scientific and technological progress. Based on this paradigm, AMI researchers constantly seek to create synergies between different research projects, leverage the complementary expertise of the different research departments, and develop new ideas based on interactions with external scientists. The resulting knowledge and expertise are the basis of AMI’s emerging technology platforms, which are attracting significant interest from industrial partners around the world. Based on the idea of «open innovation», many technology-based companies rely on collaborations with academic partners, where the academic partner provides knowledge and expertise and the industry partner drives the industrialization and product development. Merging fundamental with application-oriented research, AMI has quickly established itself as a valuable partner for innovative companies. Here some examples of such collaborative projects:

Nanomilling prototype

Frewitt is an SME located in Fribourg that is involved in the development of powder-handling equipment and processes for the pharmaceutical industry. AMI placed its competences at the disposal of Frewitt for an internal project developing milling equipment to produce nanoparticles. The first analyses of new milling products were carried out by AMI staff.

Rapid prototyping

The incorporation of mechanically robust nanoscale fillers allows one to significantly improve the mechanical properties of polymers. One of AMI’s research programs focuses on fundamental studies that aim to develop an understanding of the structure-property relationship of such materials, with a particular interest in cellulose nanofibers isolated from renewable sources as the filler. This expertise was the starting point of discussions with the Swiss branch of 3D Systems, a company that is a world leader in photo-curable resins for rapid prototyping applications. A team of AMI researchers and 3D Systems engineers collaborated to improve the mechanical properties of resins used in rapid prototyping by applying AMI's approaches to mechanical reinforcement with nanoparticles to resins developed by 3D Systems.

Controlled fragrance release

The interaction of fragrances with cellulosic materials significantly influences their performance in laundry applications. One of AMI’s research programs focuses on fundamental studies that aim to develop an understanding of fragrance performance as influenced by the structure of cellulose at the mesoscale, i.e. at length scales of a few nanometers to a few micrometers. AMI’s expertise with cellulose nanofibers isolated from renewable resources is leveraged to enhance fragrance performance in a partnership with Firmenich, the world’s largest privately owned company in the fragrance and flavor industry.

Mechanically adaptive needle

One important technological platform that is being developed at AMI comprises polymeric materials that can adapt their mechanical properties as a reaction to an external stimulus. Such materials have a great potential in medical applications, where the compatibility between materials and the human body should be enhanced. As part of a project with a German medical device producer, AMI researchers are working on the development of materials for novel introducers for venous access. A material with a very high stiffness is required in order to penetrate the skin and get to the blood vessels. However, for stationary venous access, softer materials would be preferable, as they would be much less traumatic for the sensitive vascular walls. Today, most materials used are either a compromise between the two extreme properties or comprise complicated multicomponent systems with different materials for different functions. An adaptive material that is initially very stiff and can then soften when it comes in contact with the human body, would be ideally suited to improve the quality of life of patients with chronic or critical conditions and also simplify the work procedures for nurses. Together with a competent industry partner in this field, AMI researchers and students are working on developing such materials and have already succeeded in a first proof-of-concept for a promising class of composite materials.

3D cell printing

regenHU is an innovative biomedical company located in Switzerland, which produces 3D bioprinters. AMI and regenHU have teamed up to develop and industrialize a new cell culture platform technology for in vitro lung models that offers a true high throughput alternative to animal testing and opens up new opportunities for its customers.

Dental cement

Ivoclar Vivadent AG is a leading international dental carecompany with a comprehensive product and system range for dentists and dental technicians.Until today, dental cements are designed for permanent fixation of the dental prosthesis. However, in many cases the easy removal of dental prosthesis would simplify the dentist’s work. Ivoclar approached AMI with a confirmed need for adhesive materials or cements that permit strong fixation of a dental prosthesis while allowing an efficient and complete removal on demand. AMI researchers developed in collaboration with Ivoclar novel materials, which can be used as components of strong dental cements or adhesive materials. They enable a targeted debonding under oral conditions in a convenient timeframe without damaging the substrates.

 

Adolphe Merkle Institute - Chemin des Verdiers 4 - CH-1700 Fribourg - Phone +41 26 300 9254