NANOREGION - CONNECTING OF INDUSTRY AND LABORATORIES FOR DEVELOPMENT BREAKTHROUGH

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Modern industrial strategies are based on specialized sciences and advanced technologies, including nanotechnologies. The existing manufacturing tradition needs qualitative leaps to meet current global challenges. At the same time, the existing research centers already have knowledge of the new technologies. The NANO-Region project aims to connect existing knowledge in the field of nanotechnologies with the needs of the manufacturing sector. Primorski tehnoloŇ°ki park is one of the partners of the strategic project NANO-region / Interreg Slovenia Italy, which connects research institutions and the business community.

The partners shared some of their experiences with us.

Vesna Jereb, Head of R&D, Polident

 

How and why did you participate in the Interreg project NANO-region? In addition to purely technological challenges, the medical device industry is also facing extremely demanding regulations that demand the highest quality standards from manufacturers and other actors in the supply chain. This year, the new Medical Devices Regulation (EU) 2017/745 (MDR) entered into force in the EU, establishing an even more modern and robust regulatory framework to ensure the safety and efficacy of medical devices.

In search of answers to many questions, Primorski tehnoloŇ°ki park came to us at the right time with information about the NANO region Interreg project and a network of research centers, which has a lot of knowledge and high-performance research equipment.

What have you researched and what were your expectations? The work was directed in three directions, namely we investigated the stability of materials, the behavior of nanoparticles in the use of dental materials and the cause of certain defects in the microstructure of the material that causes ejection in production.

Are you satisfied with the cooperation with the laboratories? Would you repeat the experience or recommend it to other companies? We have successfully answered practically two questions, we are on the right track in the third and we are establishing the optimal method for final confirmation. Cooperation has made it easier for us to face challenges and

offered us some new approaches and insights, so we would be very happy for such projects in the future. Due to the general epidemiological situation, the current cooperation took place practically entirely at a distance, which made it somewhat difficult for all stakeholders in this project to work; personal contact, joint work in the laboratory and a tour of research equipment and production could further deepen mutual understanding and encourage new, fresh ideas, which we are counting on in the future.

How do you see collaboration between laboratories and industry in general? Certainly, each sector, both academic and economic, has its own specifics, goals and challenges, which are difficult to manage on their own. Regardless of this, we have the opportunity for important synergies here, as fresh ideas and concepts are most often born at the crossroads of different sciences and sectors.

Changes in society and the environment are accelerating, new situations are emerging, new needs, trends in ever new products and technologies, products with higher added value and, on the other hand, large amounts of waste, and calls for more responsible environmental management and protection of natural resources. In this general situation, the desire to effectively design and develop new solutions is even greater. The design and development process is a specific, unique, very complex process with many unknowns and variables and very high risks; the constructive collaboration of laboratories and industry can facilitate, better define, guide and accelerate this process.

On the one hand, laboratories can offer a lot of expertise, a scientific approach and the possession and management of high-performance research equipment, which is especially welcome in the initial stages of design and development, in setting and testing concepts and validating individual phases, as well as in solving complex problems in production, as well as in cases where there is a need only for individual experiments or the implementation of periodic control procedures, where the purchase of such equipment for the company would be costly and personnel unjustified. On the other hand, the industry has insight into market needs, a set of application challenges, the ability to industrialize and ultimately create market value. Both partners, both laboratories and the economy, are usually also closely linked to the international space and can therefore contribute additional openness and breadth to joint projects. I therefore expect that in the next period, cooperation between the economy and laboratories will be further strengthened and also reshaped.