Two projects of the ATTRACT program for IBEC researchers

Santiago Marco, group leader of the Signal and Information Processing for Sensing Systems and Samuel Ojosnegros, Head of Bioengineering in Reproductive Health and have been selected for their research projects in the ATTRACT programme. The call received more than 1200 projects and only 170 proposals were selected.

The ATTRACT programme is a pioneering Horizon 2020 research and innovation project funded by the European Union and backed by a consortium of 9 partners. The main objective of this programme is to create a co-innovation ecosystem between fundamental research and industrial communities to develop breakthrough detection and imaging technologies for scientific and commercial uses.

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ATTRACT couples national and European Research Infrastructures, universities and research organisations with actors who can extract societally relevant and commercially interesting innovations out of the projects. The aim is to create an entirely new, European model of Open Innovation that can become an engine for jobs and prosperity for all.

At the kick -off meeting, which was held at CERN last 22nd May, all the 170 selected projects where announced and each will receive 100.000€ to develop it and will have a one-year countdown to prove the scientific merit and innovation potentia. The projects are grouped into four categories; data acquisition systems and computing; front-end and back-end electronics; sensors; and software and integration.

Santiago Marco is one of the partners of the “SNIFFDRONE” project, together with Laura Pastor responsible for Innovation at  “Depuración de Aguas del Mediterráneo”. Its main purpose is the co-creation of a drone with olfaction capabilities able to provide spatially dense odour measurements and autonomously localise the source of odour nuisances in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), leading to a drastic improvement in plant management.

Malodours produced by WWTPs are an expanding concern for the cities, they lower citizens’ quality of life by undesired odour exposure and nuisance. Odours are the main cause of pollution perception, together with dust and noise. Current odour assessment methodologies use costly and infrequent olfactometry measurements involving large human panels and continuous monitoring of only a few gases. SNIFFDRONE will provide real-time odour information to managers which will help to make fast decisions and to apply actions pre-empting potential inconveniences and emergencies. In future, monitoring of odour emissions from gas emission points using drones with olfaction capabilities will largely improve plant management and all release sources.

Samuel Ojos negros is the principal investigator of one of the selected ideas under the name of “HYSPLANT”, that pursues a new imaging method to identify the embryos with higher implantation potential. Identifying the embryos that are competent for implantation is a critical step in the in-vitro Fertilization (IVF) cycle as one out of seven couples in Europe suffer from fertility problems. Despite the great advances in assisted reproduction and IVF, the number of embryos leading to a live birth is relatively low. Often pregnancy rates are artificially increased by transferring multiple embryos to the mother. However, this procedure leads to multiple pregnancies, which generate remarkable obstetrical and neonatal complications.

Therefore, HYSPLANT experiments consider a 12-month tight collaboration between clinicians from DEXEUS Hospital and IBEC researchers. The technology ensuing from this project will be the basis for a new medical device combining laser illumination with a novel software analysis that will enable IVF professionals to select competent embryos, thus increasing the implantation success rate and reducing the time to pregnancy.