Tara Gandhi

Deputy News Editor

Academic work to improve water quality and develop robots with a sense of touch is to receive £11.7 million in European funding

Three research projects at the University of Glasgow have received substantial backing from the European Commission. The projects aim to direct evolution for industry, improve water quality and develop robots with a sense of touch, and will be created by academics from the Schools of Engineering, Geographical and Earth Sciences and Mathematics and Statistics, who have teamed up with businesses and universities from around Europe.

The research is funded by the Innovative Training Network (ITN) project created by the European Commission, and aims to “train a new generation of creative, entrepreneurial and innovative early-stage researchers, able to face current and future challenges and to convert knowledge and ideas into products and services for economic and social benefit.”

They hope to “raise excellence and structure research and doctoral training in Europe.”

The commission’s budget of €442m will be shared across 123 projects, with the three at Glasgow receiving a total of €11.7m. €3.5m will go to the EVODrops project, which is led by Professor Thomas Franke from the School of Engineering. The project aims to help direct the further evolution of natural enzymes that are already used within the industry, and to create new molecules that could also be utilised. The field of directed engineering was this year awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for Chemistry.

€4.1 has been awarded to AQUASENSE, which is a combined effort from School of Engineering’s Professor Ravinder Dahiya, the School of Geographical and Earth Science’s Professor Susan Waldron, and the School of Mathematics and Statistics’ Professor Marian Scott. It aims to develop new technology for monitoring water quality through flexible and printed electronics, autonomous sensor systems, wireless communication, autonomous underwater robots and drones. They will also provide multidisciplinary training to 15 early stage researchers.

The final project NeuTouch also includes research contributions from Prof Ravinder Dahiya, and is lead by the Fondazione Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia in Italy. Professor Dahiya’s work will play a large role in the development of novel self-powered and neural inspired or neuromorphic touch sensors. There is hope this work will improve tactile perception in prostheses.

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