Publish Date: 13.08.2018

Category: News from the University

The colleagues of the University of Ljubljana have won the COMPETE project for the establishment of the Chair Of Micro Process Engineering and Technology under the leadership of Prof. Polona Žnidaršič Plazl, PhD, from the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology within the call for tenders of the European Research Area ERA Chair. The project we have acquired is the first and only such Slovenian project within the Horizon 2020 programme. So far, only 13 ERA Chair projects have been approved in Europe, whereas during this call for tenders, additional 13 were approved from 103 applications.

ERA Chair COMPETE is a project with an expressive interdisciplinary character within which colleagues from several teams who are already working on the development of microfluidics and microfluidics-based technologies have joined forces with researchers from some fundamental sciences and have developed new solutions in the fields of biotechnology, production of substances, biomedicine, quality of foodstuffs, and environmental protection by upgrading the existing know-how. In addition to the colleagues from four chairs of the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology of the University of Ljubljana, the project will also feature research team members from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering (Laboratory for Alternative Technologies), Faculty of Electrical Engineering (Laboratory of Microsensor Structures and Electronics), Biotechnical Faculty (Chair of Microbiology Studies), and Faculty of Medicine (Institute of Biophysics).

Within the five-year-long project valued at 2.5 million euros, ERA Chair COMPETE wants to become the leading European centre for micro process engineering and technology with strong ties to the industry. The programme will also feature international workshops as well as an exchange of experts and students with leading research institutions in Europe as well as worldwide. “We intend to collaborate with numerous internationally renowned institutions, among others ETH Zurich, the University of Tokyo and Oregon State. We are also going to include other member faculties of the University of Ljubljana and scientific research institutions in Slovenia. By connecting laboratories that are already active in the field of microfluidics or at least see opportunities for new scientific as well technological challenges in it, we would like to overcome the excessive fragmentation of research and equipment, and create new know-how in numerous socially important areas. We are going to predominantly focus on our links to industry partners who sent us numerous letters of support immediately upon our application. That way, we want to significantly contribute to the implementation of the objectives of the National Smart Specialisation Strategy as well as the development strategy of the University of Ljubljana, which points out the meaning of excellence, internationalisation, and the interdisciplinary character of research and studies,” were the words of Prof. Polona Žnidaršič Plazl, PhD.

Among others, the programme will allow for the creation of new jobs as well as to hire young postgraduate studies alumni and colleagues. They are expected to become leading experts for micro processing technologies and the development of microfluidic devices for a sustainably oriented production of substances, improvement of health, foodstuffs, and the quality of the environment.

The project was supported by the Development Fund that was founded by the University of Ljubljana in 2015 to encourage as many researchers as possible to submit their European projects and also support them professionally. The University of Ljubljana provides researchers professional assistance and counselling in all project development phases, from workshops to the development of the idea, planning and drafting as well as the professional review of the project.