International Science, Technology, Engineering and Business Cooperation
The Centre of Excellence for Polymer Materials and Technologies (CE PoliMaT) successfully brings together polymer knowledge, research, technology and innovation in Slovenia. It is now on the way to harnessing the power of biopolymer materials and technology by fostering international science, technology and engineering cooperation.
CE PoliMaT, established in January 2010, ensures the transformation of research excellence into products and services in high-tech niche markets, as well as supporting job creation and the transition to a low-carbon society.
In the field of polymer materials and technology, CE PoliMaT facilitates research excellence and enables interdisciplinary research by bringing together leading researchers, scientists and engineers from different disciplines such as chemistry, physics, pharmaceutics, chemical and mechanical engineering.
Bursting with Knowledge
CE PoliMaT’s activities are based on the synergy and effective cooperation of leading Slovenian researchers and research groups, knowledge institutions, enterprises and other successful companies. In the last two years, the Centre has successfully integrated the previously dispersed capacity of the leading Slovenian research groups and established high quality research infrastructure in the field of polymers. Currently, the Centre employs 84 researchers from different disciplines, 50% of which are women. A critical mass of scientific knowledge and expertise, supported by high-quality research and development equipment, provide excellent conditions for technological breakthroughs for the Centre’s industrial partners.
In the two years of its operation, CE PoliMaT has created 67 innovations, filed five patent applications, established one spin-off company, produced 25 prototypes and won four innovation awards. Its advanced applications are oriented toward different markets such as building materials, agriculture, pharmacy, medicine and regenerative medicine, automotive, nautical and the aircraft industry as well as optoelectronics and photovoltaics. All these markets represent a challenging opportunity to enforce the polymer industrial applications developed by CE PoliMaT.
Fostering international science, technology, engineering and business cooperation
CE PoliMaT is now well on its way to harness the power of biopolymer materials and technology by fostering international science, technology and engineering cooperation and by forging links with both leading and emerging markets. CE PoliMaT emerging global knowledge network includes institutions such as Harvard Kennedy School, Cambridge University, George Mason University, Virginia, and Akron Business Accelerator, The Centre for Nanoscience & Nanotechnology, University of Nancy, Nancy, France, VDI/VDE Innovation + Technik GmbH (VDI/VDE/IT), Berlin, Germany and The Polymer Competence Center Leoben (PCCL), Leoben, Austria, among others.
CE PoliMaT pays particular attention to the critical role polymer science and technology is poised to play in Africa’s economic transformation. CE PoliMaT is initiating collaboration with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Africa’s largest trading bloc which brings together 19 member states with a population of over 450 million people. One of the first joint initiatives is the preparation of a winter school on biopolymers in collaboration with the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology from Kenya and with the support of Professor Calestous Juma from Harvard University. The winter school, which will be held at the beginning of 2013, will help bring to Kenya unique expertise by gathering together and training international and interdisciplinary teams of researchers on selected topics in biopolymer science and technology. The idea for the school was born in July 2012 during a lecture Professor Juma gave on the opportunities for international science and technology cooperation in Africa, at the official launch of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering in Slovenia, held at CE PoliMaT.
CE PoliMaT has created strong links with the City of Akron, Ohio, the capital of the polymer industry in the USA. Representing an important step in strengthening cooperation in science, technology and education, the opening of an office in the Akron Global Business Accelerator (AGBA) in October 2012 will support the development of CE PoliMaT’s spin off’s and foster business links between Slovenian and US industrial partners.
The transformation to a low carbon society requires collaboration with the most progressive countries in the field of renewable sources such as Brazil and India. The first steps have already been made. In June 2012, CE PoliMaT presented itself at a roundtable on science, technology and innovation hosted by the Science Foundation of the Federal State of Sao Paulo (FAPESP) and signed a collaboration agreement with Mahatma Gandhi University, Kerala, India.
Founders of CE PoliMaT
Marjan Mateta, General Manager of Mitol: “We decided to collaborate with CE PoliMaT to develop new, sustainable and high-quality products faster. The knowledge transfers between the researchers of various founders in CE PoliMaT are more intense which enables more rapid development of new products with market potential. We benefit also from modern analytical equipment. We hope that CE PoliMaT will become a leader in knowledge and development in new polymer materials and technology.”
Bojan Kos, General Manager of Akripol: “Our motive in cooperating with CE PoliMaT was our need for knowledge in polymer materials and technologies which require the transformation of scientific knowledge into concrete products and services in high-tech market niches. We wanted to accelerate the product/service development cycle, penetrate foreign markets and increase cost effectiveness - we succeeded. Collaboration with CE PoliMaT brought us progress in many fields important to our company, starting with a new way of thinking due to the direct cooperation with various institutes around the globe with which we now have great opportunities for collaboration. Last year we created 10 innovations with CE PoliMaT. In the future I expect even more competitive products and even more production flexibility. We see CE PoliMaT connecting with international knowledge centres and networks to open up foreign markets to Slovenian industry.”
Peter Venturini, Assistant Chairman of the Managing Board for R&D at Helios Group: “As we strive for ever-greater quality and sustainable materials, we decided to collaborate with CE PoliMaT in order to continue good cooperation with some partners and co-founders and to establish a connection that would bring us into contact with advanced technology solutions. The collaboration opens up links with leading global experts in polymers and is an excellent basis for the development of new, innovative products and technologies, including sustainable polymer materials and coatings with special features. I believe that in the future, CE PoliMaT will function as a centre with a focus on demanding development projects and a pool of product and technological inventions for companies.”
CE PoliMaT’s office in Akron, Ohio is supported by the Office for Slovenians Abroad (OSA). At the OSA they are convinced that the ambitions of CE PoliMaT in the US are a positive exception to the general state of affairs in Slovenia and abroad: “This is a step in the direction of progress and expansion of activities. In case of success it will surely be a good example of reaching foreign markets with the help of economic diplomacy and Slovenian diaspora.”
The programme of the Centre of Excellence PoliMaT has been implemented according to Agreement no. 3211-10-000057 on the Cofinancing of the Programme of the Centre of Excellence for Polymer Materials and Technologies for the period from 2009-2013, concluded between the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology and the Centre of Excellence for Polymer Materials and Technologies. The development of the Centre of Excellence for Polymer Materials and Technologies is partly financed by the European Union from the European Regional Development Fund. The operation is implemented within the Operational programme of strengthening regional development potential for the period from 2007–2013, development priority 1 – Competitiveness of companies and research excellence, and priority orientation 1.1 – Improvement of the competitive abilities of companies and research excellence. Fifteen percent of the eligible funds are special-purpose funds from the budget of the Republic of Slovenia, budget item 9406 – Competitiveness of companies and research excellence, ESRR-07-13-Slovenian participation, accounts 4120 and 4310, NRP no. 3211-09-0012.