ACTTiVATe’s targeted SMEs are those being part of the supply chain of the aerospace, agrifood, health and ICT sectors, developing their activity from the first phase of the product life cycle and being able to develop new prototypes with technologies acquired from other sectors.
Besides, the aim is that SMEs are expected to generate new services and products with the acquired technology, fostering the creation and consolidation of emerging industries. SMEs targeted are either well-established companies that want to enter new markets/value chains with cross-sector innovations and start-ups/spin-offs that will build up a business with a new technology.
Technology translation to the Smart Agro-food sector includes, among others: light materials and structures for transport, portable Auxiliary Power Units (APUs), advanced sensing or Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPASs).Light materials and structures for transports can very much reduce energy consumption in transports and/or heavy-duty machinery. Lightweight materials allow for energy saving when applied into the design and manufacturing of the vehicles and mobile devices. Both the novel materials per se and their advanced design and manufacturing methodologies will be transferred, thus up-scaling the potential benefits to several industries within the destination sector.
Portable Auxiliary Power Units (APUs are greatly desired for all kind of remote or autonomous applications. Large agriculture fields are prone for isolation and lack of energy access. Reliable, cost-effective APU may support (1) communications, (2) data acquisition systems, (3) vehicles autonomy, (4) backup energy sources, etc. Different energy storage methods may be sought, such as solar-to-battery, hydrogen fuel cells, compressed gas, etc. Aerospace has been delivering and improving successful solutions for these issues for decades now.
Advances in Sensing technologies in aerospace have promoted each time smaller sensors and interrogation systems for reliable measurements and acquisition of multi-type data for health monitoring. Some of the nearly non-invasive sensors (optical fibres, piezoresistive, dielectric, etc) may be used complimentarily for sensing of biological structures (plants, ecosystems, etc.) where bio-compatibility is highly governed by the invasive level of the interacting technologies. Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems are increasingly used for wide variety of applications. Recent advances in (1) autonomy, (2) robustness and (3) mission control, provide the basis for their implementation into cos-effective surveillance. This can be implemented for (1) wild life monitoring/protection, (2) image collection, (3) chemicals spreading, (4) fire inspection, (5) security, etc. Health sector can incorporate several aerospace technologies, among which we will focus on sensing, light-weighted and high-strength and conductive materials. Sensors developed in the aerospace industry enable the creation of more sensitive biosensors for the medical care industry. Weight saving is a main driver in aerospace industry. Regarding conductive materials: Attributing primary function (e.g., structural) and secondary functions (e.g., insulation, conductivity, energy storage, etc.) to a material system enhances its utility and decreases overall costs of applications. In the case of health, such multi-functionality may be sought as agent for reducing size of devices and equipment, which is critical for human-invasive applications and treatments. Some Advanced Field Non- Destructive Inspection techniques will be also envisaged for profitable translation.
Regarding the farming & food management chain, the most relevant technologies are advanced sensing systems (soil, plant growth, diseases, etc.),supported by vision, radar, satellites and Unmanned Aerial Systems (drones), wireless sensor networks, robotics in primary production and in the food factory, 3D food printing, analytics/farming devices systems, farm management systems, farming instrumentation, advanced (including 3D)Geographic Information Systems (GIS) based on multi and hyper spectral images, big data applied to the farm and food management chain, APPs as farmers decision support system or technologies for greenhouses and closed systems, such as climate control, new covers to improve photosynthesis or light materials. The logistics value chain has a great potential for optimization through the inclusion of several technologies, such as Auto Identification Systems (including RFID and biometric identifiers), cloud-based and service-oriented tracking & tracing, sensing systems for ambient conditions, microbiological information (biosensors), and other food quality parameters, remote product quality monitoring systems, augmented reality (e.g. for quality inspection), storage and transportation systems for perishables, robotized transport, food safety control and early warning, logistic planning & optimization systems, food chain information systems (based on cloud computing / Software as a Service), vision-based sorting systems and adaptive packaging systems. The retail and consumer value chains can be improved by combining smartphones and wearables with low-cost sensors e.g. for personalised nutrition advices, and by virtual reality and gamification technologies, e.g. to improve consumer awareness on the health effects of food. The advanced technologies of the aerospace sector have resulted and will continue to result in many innovations in the agro-food domain. For example, precision farming is driven by technologies that were developed in aerospace, including satellites and drones for remote crop sensing. The health sector is increasingly interweaved with the agro-food domain, especially because of the awareness of the impact of relation between food consumption and so-called diseases of civilization, including obesity and food allergies. Moreover, there is a strong cross-fertilization of technical innovations between both domains because many technologies can be applied both to humans and animals. For example: 3D meat printing is using advancements in the 3D printing of human organs.
The sector of health displays its activity in many fields, among which there are strong technological connections with ICT, agro-food and aerospace. We’ll mainly focus on electrochemical sensing, microencapsulation, enzymatic based detection systems, electrochemical sensors, processes based on microorganisms, 3D bio-printing systems, big data network for anonymous health system records or nutritional software. Purification systems based on microalgae-bacteria consortia, has an excellent ability to debug on pollutants present in the olives wash water, with an important decline in principal contaminants, which could have huge potential applications in the fields of agriculture, food, health and cosmetics. Selective electrochemical sensors for a wide variety of substances and offers significant competitive advantages over chromatographic or immune-enzymatic techniques that already exist in the market. Currently, many analytical tests for disease diagnosis, control on food safety, agriculture controls, process controls on pharmaceuticals, drug control, etc. are performed, these sensors have a clear application potential in the food security: detection of adulterated food by quantifying toxic antibiotics and pesticides and duality control during manufacturing processes, among others. 3D bio-printing systems use precise positioning systems and micro injection systems to fabricate supports made out of biomaterials (scaffolds) and impregnate those supports with cells, allowing the study of new medicines and cell behaviour. Current bio-printers share the same technology for building living tissues. New technology advances in inter-sectoral fields such as aeronautics or agro-food, regarding to sensors, actuators, new biomaterials and smart materials, robotics, etc. could mean new improvements and applications in the biomedical sector. Crystallization devices make possible to carry out crystallization experiments for drugs and other molecules in space, under micro-gravity conditions. They contain Crystallization Boxes, a simple device to crystallize protein and other biological macromolecules by counter-diffusion method. This device is basically a container capable of withstanding the launch and re-entry, and that meets the safety requirements of the ISS (International Space Station).