Together with the corporate sector, the University of Twente works on high-tech solutions for the future. By way of illustration, here are some examples of projects and collaborations.
Reggefiber, which specializes in fiber optic connections, and the University of Twente joined forces on the Careful Construction and Reduction of Excavation Damage programme (ZoARG). Practical experience and science have got together in order to stimulate methods, techniques and processes for construction. PDEng candidates from the UT spend two years developing quality solutions for civil engineering problems.
This initiative was started with the desire to reduce construction damage. Both Reggefiber and the UT are working intensively on optimizing construction processes. Reggefiber is doing this based on its role as fiber optic supplier and focuses on promoting careful excavation and construction. Among other things, UT is researching the process of laying cables and pipelines, and focuses on the development of new technologies, methods and forms of cooperation to streamline sewer projects, including cables and pipelines.
The joint venture T-Xchange, a knowledge centre formed by the UT and Thales Nederland that focuses on serious gaming, has been accommodated on the UT campus. This means the personnel of T-Xchange can profit optimally from the laboratory facilities in the Virtual Reality Lab in the Horst building on the campus.
T-Xchange, set up in 2005, is a knowledge centre in the field of serious gaming and process facilitation. The main goal is to offer support for designs. T-Xchange supports complex decision-making processes in fields such as product development, spatial planning, security and health. In the VR laboratory, users have creative ways of reaching agreement about a given problem. For instance, users train in crisis situations or test new products and services.
In 2013 the decision was made to extend the collaboration by five years. One year later, T-Xchange was officially relocated to the UT campus.
More information about the project T-Xchange.
The unique rehabilitation robot, LOPES II, was developed by a consortium consisting of the University of Twente and mechatronics companies, Moog and Demcon. Rehabilitation clinics provided the clinical input for the development process. LOPES II is now being used by Roessingh rehabilitation centre in Enschede and the Sint Maartenskliniek in Nijmegen. For example, this unique rehabilitation robot helps CVA patients or paraplegics learn to walk again. The novelty of the LOPES II is that the robot only supports a patient during walking practice as and when necessary.
Clean Sky (budget: 1.6 billion euros) is a public-private collaboration between the European aviation industry and the European Commission and focuses on more economical, environmentally friendly and lighter aircraft. Together with JTI Clean Sky, the EU wants to contribute significantly towards making European aviation greener. The goal is a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions, an 80% reduction in NOx and a 50% noise reduction. At the same time, Brussels wants to speed up the application of new breakthrough technologies (also environmental ones) in aviation products. These new technologies are also expected to strengthen the competitive position of the European aviation industry.
The University of Twente has a number of research groups who are partners in Clean Sky, and a number of doctoral candidates did research relating to this project. Our researchers in this field work very closely with the industry concerned.
In their work on Top Sector policy, important industrial and academic partners initiated the branch of the Industrial Focus Group XUV Optics in Twente. What makes this initiative so unique is that the research group is not doing solely fundamental research, but is actually linking it to high-tech applications in the industry. The consortium is, in fact, encouraging the development of high-tech nanotechnology applications which are of enormous economic importance. The fact that the corporate sector is actually funding as much as 38% of the 19.7 million euro budget highlights how important this initiative is to the industry.
The European Commission launched the PETROBOT project under the direction of Shell at the end of 2013. The PETROBOT project, a consortium of ten European companies, together with academic partners such as the University of Twente, develops robots which can replace people in carrying out inspections on pressure vessels and storage tanks in the oil, gas and petrochemical industry. Up till now, installations had to be taken out of operation in order to ensure that inspectors could carry out their work safely.
The PETROBOT project will run for three years and has a budget of 6.2 million euros. The project is funded by the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development. It is partly thanks to the enormous efforts of former EU commissioner, Neelie Kroes, that the EU recognizes the importance of robotics and this will continue with the Horizon 2020 Robotics PPP programme. The European Commission uses Horizon 2020 to encourage research and innovation.
In 2014, during the opening of the AEX, the start of PETROBOT was celebrated with a gong ceremony by a robot from the UT.
The UT biannually organizes the world's largest student think-tank:
Create Tomorrow. Throughout the day, about 1250 students, working in teams, find solutions for cases submitted by the corporate sector. Previous editions of this event were attended by, amongst others, Jort Kelder and Jan Peter Balkenende.
High-end technology supplier, DEMCON, was started as a spin-off of the University of Twente by ex-students Dennis Schipper and Peter Rutgers. This company focuses on the development and production of mechatronic applications in various markets and still collaborates on these with the UT. With the focus on high-tech systems and medical devices, during recent years Demcon has rapidly developed into a medium-sized enterprise. Being based in Twente is important for the company, Demcon is now located within walking distance of the UT.
In developing the newest generation of medical robots, Demcon works together with the robotics research groups of the UT. For instance, work is being done on a ‘humanoid’ and a valve has been developed with a movement radius of about twenty micrometres. This facilitates use in blood pressure gauges, analysis apparatus for microfluidics and even for industrial printing. The company is also investing in education and in UT talent, currently employing as many as 40 alumni.
In the next five years, BP will invest two million euros in fundamental research to be conducted by the department of Physics of Complex Fluids of the UT research institute MESA+. This constitutes a continuation of BP's collaboration with the department that has existed for some time. The purpose of the research is to obtain a better understanding, on a molecular level, of how oil is attached to the porous rock bed of an oil field. The application of this knowledge should make it possible to extract more oil from existing fields.
‘It is partly thanks to the Twente knowledge on fluidics that Océ is world leader in printing’, stated Eppo Bruins, director of NWO-technology foundation STW, writing in the Financieele Dagblad (Dutch daily financial newspaper) in 2015. He was referring to the close collaboration between the University of Twente and Océ, a partnership that already spans more than fifteen years. For instance, physicists of the department of Physics of Fluids (MESA+), working together with Océ-Technologies, developed a method for measuring detailed speed data in flying inkjet droplets. Their research was published in a first edition of the new professional journal, Physical Review Applied.
Océ-Technologies currently uses this method for the design of new printing applications. Océ claims that knowledge at the UT is among the best in the world of fluid mechanics. Prof. Detlef Lohse publishes in Nature and Science and this has already earned him the Spinoza prize.
During the Bedrijvendagen at the University of Twente, a series of activities will be organized, which promotes contact between students, PhD's and graduates on the one side and potential employers on the other. Every year about 2000 students and graduates meet with approximately 125 companies on various activities. This all takes place on the campus of the University of Twente.