In the 12th regular session of the UL Senate on 27 November 2018, the University of Ljubljana established the Research and Development Centre of the University of Ljubljana (RDC UL). This organisational unit of the University of Ljubljana is comprised of UL multidisciplinary research and development centres (MRDC UL), which link together various fields of research. The RDC UL represents support for the research work at the University of Ljubljana. The principal aim is to provide for the research, development and educational linking of UL member institutions in fields with multidisciplinary content.

Each multidisciplinary research and development centre (MRDC) has the following roles and tasks:

  • development and linking: contribute to the overall professional development of the individual multidisciplinary field, where it functions in a distinctly interdisciplinary way, organises international workshops and includes the exchange of experts and students with leading institutions in Europe and around the world, representing a bridge between the academic and research sphere and the business sector;
  • research: bring together, link, encourage and assist various researchers in this area. Researchers in different fields may in this way professionally cover various aspects, enabling the enhancement of existing knowledge and the development of new solutions in an individual multidisciplinary field;
  • career, applied and motivational: bring together examples of best practices, motivate students/young people and facilitate the employment of young doctoral graduates and post-doctoral associates;
  • educational: strive for the inclusion of this topic in existing programmes at higher education and other educational institutions, and further development of education in this area.


Chair of Micro Process Engineering and Technology – COMPETE.

The first multidisciplinary research and development centre, the Chair of Micro Process Engineering and Technology – COMPETE – was established at the beginning of 2019. It operates as part of RDC UL. In the call for applications of the European research Area Chair in 2018, University of Ljubljana associates led by Prof. Dr Polona Žnidaršič Plazl of the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology secured the COMPETE project for establishing a Chair of Micro Process Engineering and Technology – COMPETE). This is the first and only Slovenian project of this type within the Horizon 2020 programme. Under this programme, to date only 13 ERA Chair projects have been approved, and in this call out of 103 applications another 13 were approved. 

The ERA Chair COMPETE is a project with a distinct interdisciplinary design, in which participants of several groups involved in the development of microfluid science and the technologies based on it will join together with researchers of basic disciplines, and through the upgrading of existing knowledge will develop new solutions in the area of biotechnology, production of substances, biomedicine, food quality and environmental protection. In addition to staff from four chairs of the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology at the University of Ljubljana, the project will involve the collaboration of members of research groups from the University of Ljubljana Faculty of Mechanical Engineering (Laboratory for Alternative Technology), Faculty of Electrical Engineering (Laboratory for Microsensor Structures and Electronics), Biotechnical Faculty (Microbiology Chair) and the Faculty of Medicine (Biophysics Institute).

As part of the five-year ERA Chair project, valued at EUR 2.5 million, the COMPETE Chair seeks to become a leading European centre for microprocess engineering and technology with strong industrial links. The programme includes international workshops and the exchange of experts and students between leading research institutions in Europe and around the world. The COMPETE Chair intends to collaborate with numerous internationally established institutions, including ETH Zürich, the University of Tokyo and Oregon State University, and to include other member institutions of the University of Ljubljana and research institutions in Slovenia. By linking together laboratories already dealing with microfluids or that see opportunities in it for new scientific and technological challenges, the COMPETE centre seeks to bridge the fragmentation of research and equipment and create new knowledge in numerous areas important to society. Special attention will be devoted to linking up with industrial partners which even at the application stage provided numerous letters of support for the project. In this way COMPETE will make a vital contribution to fulfilling the goals of the national strategy of smart specialisation, as well as the University of Ljubljana development strategy, which emphasises the importance of excellence, internationalisation and the interdisciplinary nature of research and study.

The programme will also facilitate the creation of new jobs and employment for young doctoral graduates and post-doctoral associates, who are expected to become leading experts in microprocess technology and the development of microfluid apparatus for the sustainably oriented production of substances, and the improvement of health, foods and environmental quality.


Members of the COMPETE project group, from left to right: Dr Izidor Sabotin (UL Faculty of Mechanical Engineering), Dr Danilo Vrtačnik (UL Faculty of Electrical Engineering), Assoc. Prof. Dr Joško Valentinčič (UL Faculty of Mechanical Engineering), Prof. Dr Ines Mandić-Mulec (UL Biotechnical Faculty), Prof. Dr Igor Plazl and Prof. Dr Polona Žnidaršič Plazl (both of the UL Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology), Assist. Prof. Dr Jure Derganc (UL Faculty of Medicine) and Dr Drago Resnik (UL Faculty of Electrical Engineering).

Photo: NORA d.o.o.