EIT RawMaterials Community takes action on the global health crisis

EIT RawMaterials Innovation Community has extensive knowledge in the raw materials sector connecting partners from leading industry, research and technology organisations, and higher education to find innovative solutions to global challenges. EIT RawMaterials partners, as well as talented entrepreneurs, have mobilised their forces to find novel solutions to fight COVID-19 and support their local communities in this challenging time.

VTT has started developing a rapid test for coronavirus

EIT RawMaterials partner VTT is working on a new testing method based on detection of viral antigens for the COVID-19 virus together with the joint vaccine research centre of HUS and the University of Helsinki – new test would enable fast and early diagnosis. The goal of the rapid test is to provide healthcare professionals with an accurate, fast, and resource-efficient method to detect coronavirus infections early. The development of the rapid test is carried out by VTT together with MeVac – Meilahti Vaccine Research Center. The project is also actively seeking Finnish companies to join cooperation.

The rapid testing method is based on the detection of viral antigens in nasopharyngeal samples, and it will make it possible to diagnose COVID-19 at an early stage of the disease. The test is designed to be performed by health care personnel – at least in its first phase. The results, however, will be returned significantly faster than with existing tests, within 15 minutes or less. The new test would also be considerably more cost-efficient than current testing methods. The antibody development has already started at VTT, and the first versions of the test are expected during the fall.

BASF 3D printing solutions for protective face shields supporting hospitals

BASF is printing to fight against COVID-19. 3D Printing Solutions team and colleagues across diverse divisions have activated their private and company printers to support hospitals with the urgently required frames for protective face shields that effectively protect healthcare workers from infection. EIT RawMaterials partner has already produced more than 1000 frames and is joining forces with partners in the Additive Manufacturing industry to be able to supply even more frames in a shorter time.

Arkema sets up emergency manufacture of alcohol-based solution for hospitals

In response to the COVID-19 epidemic and the health situation, EIT RawMaterials partner Arkema has decided to repurpose a production line to manufacture 20 tons of alcohol-based solution per week to be distributed free of charge and as a matter of urgency to hospitals in France.

In this time of health crisis, the Arkema Group will be using a pilot line at its Rhône Alpes Research Center (CRRA), near Lyon, which will be dedicated to the manufacture of an alcohol-based solution to help out healthcare professionals now under considerable strain. The solution will be supplied to the French health authorities and will be earmarked in particular for the mass restocking of public hospitals. Accordingly, Arkema has been granted all necessary administrative authorisations.

Spanish National Research organisation CSIC launches a project on genomic epidemiology to predict the evolution of the new coronavirus

The project called “Addressing unknowns of COVID-19 transmission and infection combining pathogen genomics and epidemiology to inform public health interventions” with a budget of EUR 740.000 combines genomic data with clinic microbiology, epidemiology and phylogenetics. This study will compare the coronavirus genome of infected patients from microbiology data in hospitals throughout Spain. Researchers from CSIC lead this ambitious scientific project in collaboration with 40 hospitals from Spain comparing the genome of the new coronavirus in patients enduring COVID-19 to understand better and predict the evolution of the virus epidemic. This study will provide information to health authorities in the country, and data generated will be made available in public repositories as well as in the global platform nextstrain.org.

The project is led by researcher Iñaki Comas from the Valencia Biomedicine Institute (IBV-CSIC), together with researcher Fernando González Candelas, from System Integrative Biology Institute CSIC-I2SysBio and the University of Valencia. Valencia regional government is providing support through their foundation for health and biometric research Fundación para el Fomento de la Investigación Sanitaria y Biomédica (FISABIO).

Politecnico di Milano has started to certify and test personal protective equipment to fight COVID-19

The Politecnico di Milano has kicked off the PoliMask project in response to the request of the Lombardy Region engaged in the procurement of personal protective equipment for health during the COVID-19 emergency.

Politecnico di Milano (POLIMI) provides support to the Lombardy Region for the creation of a local (regional and national) production chain of surgical masks, FFP2 and FFP3 masks for healthcare use, protective gowns for healthcare workers, glasses and other protective devices. EIT RawMaterials partner also collaborates with the Lombardy Region, the Higher Institute of Health and INAIL for the definition of a simplified test protocol, necessary for the certification in derogation of the devices, under Article 15 of the Law Decree No. 17 “Cura Italia” of 17 March 2020 The Rector, as President of CRUI, shares the test protocols with the various universities at the national level and coordinates their contributions.

POLIMI is responsible for the experimental verification of the effectiveness of new surgical masks and FFP2 and FFP3 masks. All tests are performed free of charge, as a further guarantee of the impartiality of the polytechnic as a third party. The Departments of Aerospace Sciences and Technologies, Energy and Chemistry, Materials and Chemical Engineering “Giulio Natta” have created a test chain in record time which covers almost all the tests necessary for the certification of surgical masks and personal protective equipment.

AJELIS is mobilising to propose solutions to protect the population from COVID-19

AJELIS has received numerous requests for supplies of HYGIAFELT® – a sterilisable biocidal antibacterial and antiviral material. These requests come from health workers, law enforcement personnel and close relations who have little or no masks. To respond to this emergency, AJELIS is participating in a voluntary action with a network of sewists of hand-made masks from Gif-sur-Yvette and Juvisy-sur-Orge.

AJELIS HYGIAFELT protective masks and air filters of all types have successfully passed the DGA breathability tests. They will be used as a barrier patch with biocidal properties intended to deactivate bacteria and viruses from contact.

Trinity College Dublin establishes COVID-19 immunology research hub

Trinity College Dublin joins forces with AIB (Allied Irish Banks) to urgently accelerate the college’s immunology project tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. The project will involve scientists and immunologists working on basic and applied research, and infectious disease consultants, immunologists, respiratory disease physicians and intensive care specialists working with COVID-19 patients. AIB is putting €2.4 million into the hub, which aims to discover drugs and vaccines against the coronavirus, and will work on commercial antibody tests and investigating if recovered COVID-19 patients are immune to further infection with the virus.

ENEA will turn snorkelling masks into ventilators

ENEA has been providing civil protection with medical devices that allow to turn snorkelling masks into ventilators for the COVID-19 emergency. At the Portici Center, researchers are using 3D printing to create the special valves patented by Isinnova Ltd, needed to adapt snorkelling masks “Easybreath” in ventilators for sub-intensive therapy.

To date, the Portici Energy Technology Department laboratories manufacture 15 kits of valves per day for an estimated total of 150 adapters to increase availability in Campania, but also for hospitals in Lombardy in case of a shortage of C-PAP helmets for patients with respiratory problems. The valves are tested and validated by medical experts who verify their efficacy and proper functioning. The initiative, coordinated by the Directorate-General for Health Protection of the Campania Region involves numerous public and private entities, including FabLab Napoli Laboratory, Re-Made in Sanità, Spark Creative Hub, 3D Rap, Dam Bros, Stampa3Dsud, Stmaker Makerspace-Hub.

aSmartWorld connects elderly people with their families providing refurbished smartphones and communication credits

As retirement homes are closed due to the quarantine, a lot of our seniors are entirely isolated from the outside world. aSmartWorld, a young Belgian start-up involved in the refurbishment and recirculation of smartphones through a local circular economy, decided to react quickly.

aSmartWorld configures smartphones which are easy to use and delivers them to the retirement homes. This action is centralised on a Facebook group page Familles Connectées #covid19. Through this tool, retirement homes have the opportunity to dispose of these smartphones. This page will enable, thereafter, the creation of a real community with a common purpose. In less than a week, the start-up has already delivered to 20 retirement homes, where more than 15 of them have reached the team directly via the Facebook group, and 50 more are already on the waiting list! In total, already over 3000 seniors have been (re)connected to their families thanks to this initiative. The team still has more than 150 000 elder people to (re)connect!

DMT and TÜV NORD test protective masks in the fight against COVID-19

Governments, local authorities and businesses are all working hard to import protective equipment, especially protective masks, and make them available to medical personnel as quickly as possible. DMT is now making an important contribution to this with its Laboratory for Air Hygiene in Essen, Germany under the lead of TÜV NORD. There protective masks will undergo testing according to a shortened certification procedure, recently approved by ZLS (German Federal Office for Safety Technology). This is based on the recommendation of the European Commission to allow the purchase and use of protective equipment without a valid CE mark if it passes certain test standards, thus drastically speeding up availability at this critical time. DMT is committed to helping in the fight against COVID-19 and are proud to be one of only three test centres nationwide to offer the tests, which are being certified by TÜV NORD CERT. 

Graphene-XT making a polymer with graphene to make masks

Prof. Loris Giorgini from the department of ChimInd-UNIBO suggested the idea of making a polymer with graphene to produce masks. The polymer treatment has extremely low costs, high ease of application on the support and has antimicrobial potential that would increase the degree of safety and durability mask. The idea was welcomed with enthusiasm by a group of researchers, Marco Giacinti Baschetti and Matteo Minelli of the department DICAM-UNIBO that, together with Franco Belosi of CNR-ISAC, Martina Cappelletti of FaBiT-UNIBO have collaborated with Graphene-XT in the realisation and characterisation of the polymer-based graphene that showed interesting antibacterial activities, deposited on paper or fabric. Graphene-XT start-up is interested in working with companies or institutions co-funding the research and making it quickly usable, on a large scale, this treatment, which the market urgently requires. Please reach out to Nicola Mirotta, Innovation Manager at Graphene-XT for more information about the cooperation.