Kickoff: High-Performance Center »Integration of Biological and Physical-Chemical Material Functions«

Press release / 26.4.2017

The High-Performance Center »Integration of Biological and Physical-Chemical Material Functions« opens on April 26, 2017. The event will take place at the Fraunhofer Conference Center in Postdam-Golm and be attended by Brandenburg’s minister president, Dr. Dietmar Woidke, and Professor Alexander Kurz, executive vice-president for human resources, legal affairs and IP management at the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. The aim of the Center is to manufacture products with integrated material functions using the fewest process steps possible. The Center is coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP and the Bioanalytics and Bioprocesses Branch of the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI-BB.

© Photo Fraunhofer IAP
© Photo Fraunhofer IAP | Foto: Andreas Bandow

The Fraunhofer Iinstitutes IAP (above) and IZI-BB (below) in Potsdam-Golm form the nucleus of the Center »Integration of Biological and Physical-Chemical Material Functions«.

Structure meets function

Researchers at the Center combine structural materials, which give a product its shape and stability, with functional materials. »We aim to integrate a range of functionalities into plastics, including biochemical and biosensory functions, identification features, sensors, photovoltaics and lighting elements. Functionally integrated products, such as novel lab-on-a-chip modules for medical applications, sensors integrated into light-weight materials, and smartcards for the security industry, offer outstanding potential for innovation. This means the Center could take on a pilot function for the region and Germany,« explains Professor Alexander Böker, head of the Fraunhofer IAP. He coordinates the Center in cooperation with Professor Hans-Ulrich Demuth, head of the Fraunhofer IZI-BB in Potsdam-Golm.

 

Synergies for efficient production processes

Focus is not only on function integration, but also on making the manufacturing processes of complex products as efficient as possible. In order to achieve both aspects, material development and production technology have to merge and combine with one another. The Potsdam/Berlin region unites excellent research institutions that specialize in both areas. Their expertise is set to transform the entire value creation chain to enable the production of functionally integrated products – from application-related basic research, to applied research and the concrete development of prototypes and products. The Fraunhofer Institutes IAP and IZI-BB have already conducted joint research as part of a series of initial projects. The University of Potsdam acts as a regional anchor. Working alongside the university and other research and industry players means that large-scale projects can also be applied for in the future. Thirty regional companies have already committed to participating in the Center and utilizing its innovations. Plans are in place to expand the network structure and initiate further projects in the coming years. The Center is also participating in two initiatives in Brandenburg as part of the BMBF funding measure »Innovative Hochschule«.

 

Memorandum of understanding: intensifying collaboration

During the kickoff event Minister President Woidke and Professor Kurz, a member of the Executive Board of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, will sign a cooperation agreement to intensify collaboration. One of the goals of this »memorandum of understanding« is to advance the structural transformation of the Lausitz mining region. The Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg will be especially strengthened in the areas of bioplastics, biotechnology and microelectronics.

Minister President Dietmar Woidke underlines: »By supporting applied research, the state government is investing in the future. Being the largest organization for applied research and development in Europe makes the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft an ideal partner for us. The aim of this memorandum of understanding is to intensify this collaboration. This applies not only to the Science Park in Potsdam-Golm, but also to the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg. I am certain that the intensified cooperation between BTU and the Fraunhofer Institutes will drive forward the structural transformation of the Lausitz region and make a lasting impact on the creation of highly skilled jobs in the region.«

 

Strengthening the region

Brandenburg’s Ministry of Science, Research and Cultural Affairs (MWFK) and Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (MWE) support the establishment of the Center. As part of the InfraFEI Directive, the Center is receiving 17.5 million euros in funding from the MWFK to construct a laboratory and office building for the Fraunhofer IAP’s lightweight material activities at its Wildau site. A further 4.2 million euros has already been approved within the framework of the StaF Directive. The MWE has earmarked 4.25 million euros to fund concrete research and development projects at the Center. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is providing 2.5 million euros to fund the initial projects of the Fraunhofer IAP and IZI-BB.

Science Minister Martina Münch explains: »Innovative materials research is enormously important for both science and industry, for example to establish new products and production methods. The opening of the national Center highlights the high level of research competence in this field in Brandenburg. The planned cooperation between universities and non-university research institutions in the state of Brandenburg and Berlin is a particularly welcoming development. The capital region will profit as a whole from the pooled expertise of this strong initiative.«

»It takes a long time for an idea to become an innovation that is successfully established on the market. The process frequently begins with basic research. Concrete prototypes, products or services often aren’t generated until the applied research phase. The Center hopes to advance precisely these processes along the value creation chain and involve small and medium-sized companies in the process. Science and industry benefit alike – this is active knowledge and technology transfer,« says Economics Minister Albrecht Gerber.

 

New material concepts for many sectors

The High performance Center »Integration of Biological and Physical-Chemical Material Functions« is one of 17 centers in Germany. The unique character of its thematic profile extends into Europe. With an outstanding university serving as a regional anchor, actors from science, business and politics support science and technology transfer to industry, as well as excellent educational and training opportunities. »The manufacturing industry is an important pillar of the German economy. The crucial competitive factors of the, oftentimes, export-oriented companies, include innovative materials and material technologies. The new Center in Potsdam-Golm enables Fraunhofer to create, in conjunction with universities and companies in Brandenburg, a center for material research that has international standing. Fraunhofer offers a wide range of interdisciplinary expertise in material-driven innovations. Our experts develop new materials for the medical, security, aviation, automotive and mechanical engineering sectors in collaboration with our partner’s specialists. This also generates new material concepts that enable communication between materials and parts, and with machines. This makes a significant contribution to the transferring of technologies to applications for Industry 4.0 and the Internet of things,« says Prof. Alexander Kurz, member of the Executive Board of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.

 

Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP

The Fraunhofer IAP in Potsdam-Golm, Germany, specializes in research and development of polymer applications. It supports companies and partners in custom development and optimization of innovative and sustainable materials, processing aids and procedures. In addition to the environmentally friendly, economical production and processing of polymers in the laboratory and pilot plant scale, the institute also offers the characterization of polymers. Synthetic petroleum-based polymers as well as biopolymers and biobased polymers from renewable raw materials are in the focus of the institute’s work. The applications are diverse, ranging from biotechnology, medicine, pharmacy and cosmetics to electronics and optics as well as applications in the packaging, environmental and wastewater engineering or the aerospace, automotive, paper, construction and coatings industries. | Director: Prof. Dr. Alexander Böker

 

The Bioanalytics and Bioprocesses Branch of the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell therapy and Immunology IZI-BB

The Bioanalytics and Bioprocesses Branch of the Fraunhofer IZI at the Potsdam-Golm Science Park develops solutions at the interface between biotechnology, biomedicine, diagnostics and bioproduction. The interdisciplinary team of scientists, engineers, IT specialists and technicians develops and optimizes technologies for manufacturing biosensors and bioassays, as well as innovative solutions for a broad range of applications spanning agriculture, the environment, biomedicine and diagnostics. One aim is the detection and validation of biomarkers for various medical and veterinary aspects that can be used as informative markers in the corresponding applications. This involves a selection of suitable methods, sample preparation and measurements, as well as data collection, analysis and integration. Miniaturization and automation of the corresponding technologies are a crucial element of the development work so that they can be integrated into transportable and easy-to-use measuring systems for personalized medicine. Work in Potsdam also focuses on the production of functional proteins using cell-free protein synthesis and the culture collection of cryophilic algae CCCryo, which is used as a bioresource in the development of production processes to create novel industrial bioproducts. | Head of Branch: Prof. Dr. Hans-Ulrich Demuth