A new study has compared children’s capacity to imitate behaviour with the same capacity of the bonobos primate. The study found that bonobos did not copy actions as children do, highlighting the unique nature of human imitation. The study, by researchers at the University of Birmingham and Durham University in the UK, appears in the journal Child Development. Professor Zanna Clay, lead author of the study, said: “Our results show striking species differences in imitation. “The young children were very willing to copy actions even though they served no obvious function, while the bonobos were not. Children’s tendency to imitate in this way likely represents a critical piece of the puzzle as to why human cultures differ so profoundly from those of great apes.” In the study, researchers compared the imitative behaviour of 77 typically developing 3-5-year-olds with that of 46 untrained bonobos living in naturalistic forest enclosures in Lola ya Bonobo Sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Children were recruited from the Birmingham Science Museum, which resulted in an ethnically diverse sample from low- and middle-income families. Imitation was defined as authentically copying body movements from others. The researchers showed children and bonobos a small wooden box with a reward inside. Before opening the box, an experimenter performed some nonsensical actions over the box, such as waving a hand or tracing an imaginary line over it. Each participant was then given a box without any instructions. Most of the children spontaneously imitated the actions; in contrast, none of the bonobos made any attempt to copy any of the actions. Claudio Tennie, co-author of the study, added: “The fact that the bonobos failed to imitate demonstrates that even enhanced social orientation may not be enough to trigger human-like cultural learning behaviours. “Although some animals show some limited abilities to copy, copying actions that have no apparent purpose appears to be uniquely human.” The study was funded under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme and the European Research Council (ERC). The post Study compares child-bonobo behaviours appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
Sernova’s Cell Pouch™ for treatment of haemophilia A has received confirmation of its next stage of funding worth €5.6m to the HemAcure Consortium. The clinical stage regenerative medicine company announced significant scientific progress achieved in the development of a ‘first in world’ personalised regenerative medicine therapy for the treatment of haemophilia A patients. The therapy is to treat severe haemophilia A, a serious genetic bleeding disorder caused by missing or defective clotting factor VIII in the blood stream. This therapy consists of Sernova’s implanted Cell Pouch device transplanted with therapeutic cells, corrected to produce factor VIII at a level sufficient to significantly reduce the side effects of the disease and improve patient quality of life. Dr Philip Toleikis, Sernova president and CEO, said:  “The international HemAcure consortium team members are pleased with the groundbreaking scientific advances achieved at this point and are on track for this regenerative medicine solution to advance into human clinical evaluation. “Sernova’s Cell Pouch platform technologies are achieving important world-first milestones in both diabetes and now haemophilia, two significant clinical indications which are being disrupted by its regenerative medicine approach aimed at significantly improving patient quality of life.” Dr Joris Braspenning, HemAcure programme co-ordinator, added: “We are thrilled with the approval by the EU of the next stage of funding for the HemAcure programme based on our quality interim report. This is a strong validation of the consortium’s dedication and teamwork and the importance of this regenerative medicine approach.” Sernova has developed its innovative Cell Pouch technologies for the placement and long-term survival and function of immune-protected therapeutic cells. It has proven to be safe and efficacious in multiple small and large animal preclinical models and has demonstrated safety alone and with therapeutic cells in a clinical trial in humans for another therapeutic indication. The post Haemophilia therapy project makes progress appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
The European Investment Fund (EIF) and ProCredit Group are providing an additional €450m to innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), bringing a total of €820m to companies in 11 countries. The financing is available through ProCredit banks and targets companies that use new technologies for new products in one of the 11 countries where the facility is available – Germany, Albania, Serbia, FYROM, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia. To date, agreements with ProCredit have already supported more than 1,000 innovative SMEs and many more will be financed in the coming years. These agreements were signed under the European Commission’s InnovFin initiative, backed by the EU’s research and innovation programme Horizon 2020. EIF chief executive Pier Luigi Gilibert said: “We are delighted that InnovFin SME guarantee agreements with the ProCredit banks are yielding such positive results. “ProCredit’s well-established distribution network, combined with its SME lending expertise, ensures that EC-backed loans can be rapidly deployed across the 11 territories. These transactions will help companies to access this EU-backed finance in order to drive forward an innovation agenda across Europe.” European Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness Jyrki Katainen said: “The commission recognises that small businesses help drive jobs and growth in Europe. “Facilitating access to the finance they need to innovate, expand and create jobs is one of the most effective ways by which the EU supports SMEs across Europe. “I wish those set to benefit from this financing every success as they take their next steps.” The post Project provides additional funding for SMEs appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
Materials circularity on artificial pitches is changing grass roots level sports, as Advanced Sports Installations Europe discusses. Advanced Sports Installations Europe (ASIE) is developing a zero-waste method of artificial pitch renewal.1,2 This method is called the ARENA concept and it makes the reuse of all used materials of artificial grass pitches possible, reducing CO2 emissions by 80%, compared to present methods of fields renewal, and also saving costs of up to 50% for field owners. ASIE has now completed the first field tests of the new concept and has renewed several football fields in Europe. Artificial grass sports fields are a growing trend in Europe, where there are about 25,000 full-sized football fields and almost 1,000 new fields built yearly. But the lifetime of an artificial grass field is an average of ten years, depending on usage and maintenance quality. This also means that around 2,500 fields need to be removed and rebuilt. Until now there has not been a perfect solution on how to remove, clean, reuse or recycle old materials. More than 90% of the materials are sent to landfill, making more than seven million tonnes of waste in what are actually reusable materials. Fields and the renewal process ASIE has developed a full solution to remove used artificial grass, clean the materials and reuse both, thereby removing the need for landfill. The technology is called the ARENA concept and is developed with the support of Horizon 2020 funding for innovations and SMEs. The best example of the development result is that of Mönchengladbach, Germany, where ASIE completed the first field job with ARENA concept machines. Our customer ordered the removal of two full-sized football fields which were used by local citizens and football clubs for daily training and competitions. ASIE began by rolling up the turf using the Crab removal system. This took less than a day and all 28 rolls from a single field with infill were stored on the car park adjacent to the pitch. On the second and third days, all the rolls were processed with ArenaMaster to reclaim the infill mixture from the grass. As the grass was still in good condition, our customer POLYTAN sold it to Africa to be installed as a football pitch there, as the four-metre wide rolls makes a good level of reinstallation possible. Infill from of the pitch was still in good condition and the customer wished to reuse it on the same pitch but with new grass. To raise the quality of the used infill, ASIE utilised the new ‘Wizard’ device. Wizard is for cleaning and separating infill material and can take out all the dust and debris in the infill mixture, which is then separated into sand and rubber crumbs. These cleaned materials were loaded into bags and again kept next to the field, ready for reinstallation. In this way the customer saved a lot of the costs of transportation, which would have taken the used materials to landfill as well as new materials to the field. It also provides a big environmental saving – about 10,000km of truck transportation was saved and 150 tonnes of sand was not mined, plus around 80 tonnes of new rubber was not produced. The owners of the two German pitches were impressed with the speed of the work, as well as the quality and cleanliness of the recycled materials. As a result, our co-operation with the customer, who gave us strong feedback, will continue, and we are pleased with the progress of our Arena concept. The ARENA concept for artificial grass is actually much broader than described above. It covers activities from the evaluation and maintenance of pitches that are in use, to cleaning and recycling all materials, including the used artificial turf. In general we can separate the ARENA concept into three main parts: Evaluating pitches and planning ASIE is developing a machine called GreenEye, which can automatically measure infill thickness on the field. Based on the measuring result, we can then evaluate the infill amount on the fields and the calculated quantity of material needed to add during the following maintenance. All this data will then be uploaded to our database where we can analyse the results and plan upcoming jobs. Actions on pitches Here we have developed three different machines which are designed to work together. All these machines have working prototypes and will be running on the field already – when the pitch owner has decided to renew the artificial grass, the first step is always to roll the used artificial turf up. We do this with a machine called the Crab and it can be done in less than a day. The rolls of turf with the infill inside are in four-metre-long rolls and stored next to the pitch, and the field is now ready for the installation of new turf. Next to the field we use a machine called the ArenaMaster for the reclamation of infill from the artificial grass. For this the rolls will be pulled through the ArenaMaster and the infill will be beaten and brushed out. After this process, the grass will again be rolled and the infill mixture progressing to the next process – the Wizard. This device separates rubber crumbs from sand and removes the debris and dust. After this operation, the sand and rubber crumbs are also ready for reinstallation. Depending on each job, the Wizard process may not be necessary. When the infill materials are in good enough conditions, we can reinstall them without it. Recycling used grass ASIE’s first option is always to reinstall used turf, but eventually it will be so worn that it will no longer be possible to make an acceptable level of pitch with it. In this case, the used grass will be crushed and a compound produced and ASIE plans to establish a mobile recycling plant by the summer of 2018. Developments To support all these activities, collecting data from pitches and helping with planning, ASIE is developing a database called ‘Cloud’. This is a modern tool for planning daily working processes as well as handling materials and dealing with customers. The database is built up by following Industry 4.0 principles. We collect as much digital information from processes as is reasonable, analyse them, and then use the data for planning the next renewal processes, educating our staff and developing the machines of the ARENA concept. The ARENA concept is a new way of thinking about the renewal of artificial grass fields and materials handling. To bring these ideas to other people and to showcase the new possibilities, ASIE attended a first-time demo event in Tallinn, Estonia, called ARENA 2017 in February. The event was public and all visitors were welcomed. To reach key persons we gave many personal invitations to the event. The main invited visitors were ASIE’s present customers and potential new ones. We also invited our partners and artificial grass and other materials suppliers. A third main group of persons were from football associations in the different countries of Europe. Of course, many local visitors from local municipalities and football clubs were also in attendance. ASIE lined up all its machinery, including ARENA concept prototypes – Crab, ArenaMaster and Wizard. The best way to understand the machines is to show them working, so we ran all the machines as we explained their principal functions to visitors. These direct contacts were good for both sides – visitors understood our capabilities and we learnt what the important aspects for field owners and players are. The demo event in 2017 was so successful that ASIE decided to repeat it next year. You are welcome to ARENA 2018, from 18-23 of February 2018, where we will have an even wider range of machines to show ( References 1  2   Meelis Koik Advanced Sports Installations Europe AS +372 5330 9003 The post Change the pitch appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
The first patient in an international trial of a new liver dialysis system has been recruited at the Royal Free Hospital in London, UK. The device, called DIALIVE, was invented by scientists and doctors at University College London (UCL) and Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust. The principles behind DIALIVE are based on recent advances in the understanding of the mechanisms underlying liver failure, a condition that affects some 200,000-300,000 people every year across Europe. The patient group treated in this trial has a greater than 25% chance of death within a 28-day period if they do not undergo a liver transplant. 24 patients will be included in the first phase, which is aimed at establishing DIALIVE’s safety and performance. The trails are being conducted at seven centres across Europe, including London, Birmingham, Nottingham, and Edinburgh in the UK; Rostock in Germany; Paris, France; and Madrid, Spain. A second trial that plans to enrol more than 100 patients across Europe is already being designed. That study is scheduled to begin in 2018 and will include patients at another 18 widely distributed European referral hospitals for liver diseases that are part of the European Foundation for the Study of Chronic Liver Failure (EF-Clif) consortium of hospitals. Professor Rajiv Jalan, the co-ordinator of the ALIVER project and an inventor of DIALIVE at UCL, said: “Many patients with liver failure are relatively well until the time they present to the hospital. “Within a matter of 28-days, about 25% of these patients will die with multi organ failure. Given the huge regeneration potential of the liver, many can recover. “DIALIVE removes toxins that accumulates in liver failure to prevent inflammation. It has the potential to allow the liver to regenerate.” Jalan added: “The Horizon 2020 EU grant and the collaboration with the leaders in the field will allow us to further develop DIALIVE for benefit of liver failure patients”. The post Patient to receive trial liver dialysis appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
The EU’s research ministers are meeting in Tallinn, Estonia, between 24-25 July to discuss how to increase the impact of research and innovation, and to clarify the EU research funding landscape. The meeting is to be chaired by Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps. According to Reps the future of Europe’s competitiveness depends on research and innovation. She said: “We need to convince a wider audience at the EU and national levels that everyone benefits from supporting ambitious investments in research and innovation.” Today (24 July) the ministers are receiving a presentation of Estonia’s e-government solutions, including e-residency, cybersecurity, and mobile positioning issues. Later, the executive director of the Nobel Foundation, Lars Heikensten, will present a keynote speech on the impact of research. Tomorrow they will discuss how to strengthen the impact and relevance of research in the EU. In the afternoon discussions will focus on the simplification of EU funding for research and innovation, and how to make them more accessible. One of the main topics of the Estonian presidency of the Council of the EU is also the interim evaluation of the Horizon 2020 programme for research and innovation. The post EU ministers discuss research impact appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
Plastic recycling company Luxus has secured a £1.29m (~€1.47m) investment under the Horizon 2020 programme, in a consortium with Polykemi and global plastics manufacturer One51. The funding supports NIRSort, a commercialisation project which aims to replace carbon black and other pigments with a range of near-infrared (NIR) detectable alternatives for use by packaging, automotive and consumer durables manufacturers. Each year 3.5 million tonnes of polymer are discarded in the UK alone, since black and some other coloured packaging cannot be picked up by recycling sorters. This is due to the products containing carbon black that reflects very little or no radiation rendering it ‘invisible’ to sorting machines in recycling depots. NIRSort is a two year project that will be led by Luxus in collaboration with global processor Polykemi. Polykemi will participate by formulating, processing and testing materials. The resulting materials will be then further evaluated for use in innovative packaging material via Polykemis subsidiary Scanfill. The third consortium partner is rigid plastics manufacturer, One51, selected for its injection moulding manufacturing expertise. Christel Croft, technical director at Luxus, said: “This pioneering project is based on the previous successful work to identify NIR detectable alternatives to carbon black from specialist additive and masterbatch supplier, Colour Tone, which Luxus acquired earlier this year. “It aims to develop a range of colourants for polymers that will enable NIR sorting operations to segregate black and coloured plastics from waste streams to a level of purity that they are useable in highly engineered polymers. “We have defined a programme of development, designed to identify formulations with optimal cost effectiveness in packaging recycling and to extend the technology across to Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) and end-of-life vehicle applications, each of which has its own specialist requirements.” The most immediate market need is for food packaging, which typically has a three to 12 month cycle from ‘make-to-waste’. The post Project to create NIR packaging alternatives appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
Polish blockchain start-up Billon has received a €2m grant under the Horizon 2020 programme to exploit the alternative payment market. The company said that it was awarded the grant on the basis that its distributed ledger technology (DLT) could exploit the alternative payment market. Robert Kaluza, co-founder of Billon, said: “Billon’s blockchain technology is the first cloud and mobile peer-to-peer solution for everyday currencies using DLT, where we provide PLN and GBP solutions in partnership with banks. Billon now moves beyond solutions to digitally pay people, to now enable participants to spend their funds online.” The granted funding will be used to expand the start-up’s blockchain technology beyond instant corporate payments, support the launch of e-commerce and content monetisation solutions, and provide additional investment in sales, marketing, compliance and operation. Tadeusz Kuropatwinski, managing director of digital payments at Billon, added: “We believe content monetisation and e-commerce payments will be one of the main drivers behind the global demand for micropayments, especially in emerging markets. “Today’s payment solutions include clumsy pre-paid vouchers and premium SMS, and Billon can transform this into a digital payment experience on a mobile phone, and with a full audit trail.” Based on the company’s successful trials, Kuropatwinski said he expects to launch merchant services for e-commerce and content monetisation this autumn in Poland, and in 2018 in the UK. The company will then start looking for possible entries into emerging markets. The post Blockchain start-up receives EU grant appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
Vice-President of the European Commission Maroš Šefčovič has met with InnoEnergy and its innovators in Portugal while celebrating the country’s progress as a clean energy leader. InnoEnergy welcomed Šefčovič to the capital, Lisbon, this week, showcasing the clean-energy contribution of some of the Portuguese innovations it has supported. Šefčovič met with Andreia Fernandes, Portugal Country Manager, InnoEnergy at the Tivoli Hotel Avenida. The commissioner witnessed presentations about the organisation’s work in Portugal and from some of the innovative start-ups that InnoEnergy has supported. Šefčovič said: “What I appreciate with InnoEnergy is its tailor-made support to help entrepreneurs develop promising and efficient energy solutions while always mindful that they have to conquer markets.” Fernandes said: “It was an honour to join Commissioner Šefčovič and to showcase some of the fantastic innovations we’ve supported. “To our innovators in Portugal and the rest of Europe, we hope that this shows how seriously the commission takes clean energy innovation and demonstrates the value of InnoEnergy’s top-table network of policy makers and industry influencers.” The following day, Šefčovič met with one of InnoEnergy’s Portuguese success stories, ProDrone. The Lisbon-based company uses customised unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), specifically designed for inspecting wind turbines in a safer, more cost-effective way. Šefčovič added: “InnoEnergy had a decisive role to play by being an enabler of the Energy Union through innovation.” “Portugal has already led the way in so many areas of clean energy – just look at Principle Power’s world-leading floating offshore wind technology, WindFloat,” says Diego Pavía, CEO of InnoEnergy. “We helped commercialise that project and are working to help Portuguese innovators lead in so many more. Commissioner Šefčovič’s kind words are a great validation of our work.” The post Šefčovič endorses InnoEnergy on Energy Union tour appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
Small capsules embedded in clothing could soon be used to counteract the rise of sensitive skin conditions. Dr Carla Silva, chief technology officer at the Centre for Nanotechnology and Smart Materials (CENTI) in Portugal, said: “As people are getting older, they have more sensitive skin, so there is a need to develop new products for skin treatment.” This increased sensitivity can lead to painful bacterial infections such as dermatitis, otherwise known as eczema. Current treatments use silver-based or synthetic antibacterial elements, but these can create environmentally harmful waste and may have negative side effects. To fight these bacterial infections in an eco-friendly way the EU-funded SKHINCAPS project is combining concentrated plant oil with nanotechnology. The solution puts these so-called ‘essential oils’ into tiny capsules that are hundreds of times smaller than the width of a human hair. Each one is programmed to release its solution only in the presence of the bacteria that cause the skin infections. This means that each capsule is in direct contact with the affected skin as soon as an infection occurs, increasing the effectiveness of the treatment. According to Silva, who is also project co-ordinator of SKHINCAPS, the nano-capsules are attached to the clothing material using covalent bonding, the strongest chemical bond found in Nature. This ensures the capsules survive the washing machine and that they are invisible to the wearer. This nanotechnology has a lifespan equal to that of the garment, though the active ingredients contained in the nano-capsules will run out earlier depending on the extent of the skin infection, and thus on how much of the treatment is released when the clothing is worn. The nano-capsules could prove invaluable for chronic eczema sufferers and those with high levels of stress, as well as the elderly and diabetics, who are particularly vulnerable to developing such infections. The post Nanotech clothing to treat eczema appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.