The winners and prize winners (runners up) of the «SPbU Start-up» competition spoke about their innovative projects in the areas of environment and healthcare: an express test for measuring the content of lead in the body; dental 3D-printing and smart-clothes; anti-bacterial coating; and a utilisation system for oil-in-water emulsion. An open talk took place at the IIIrd International YouthLabour Forum in St Petersburg.
3D-crowns and smart-vests
The Ceramicprints team, a prize-winner in “SPbU Start-Up – 2018” developed a new generation of material – “liquid” ceramics. This unique photopolymer can be used for the 3D-printing of dental crowns. The developers emphasise that this approach would dramatically reduce the cost of dentures and reduce the time of production to 40 minutes against hours and even weeks that the process formerly took.
Now the team of university students is working on another project, developing “smart” clothes for medical purposes. They suggest making bands, bracelets, vests and other gadgets which can measure the level of sugar in blood, record ECG and even warn of epileptic seizures. According to the authors of the project, their bands can monitor brain function and signal an approaching epileptic seizure.
‘We’re not the first to come up with an idea to print dentures on a 3D-printer. Japanese, American and Norwegian engineers have been exploring the same idea for a long time. What is unique is the material for printing – the photopolymer which we developed. As for smart-clothes, this is still a new market that is just emerging. For example, nobody has yet come up with an idea to make “smart” vests which monitor blood sugar level and record ECG. To our knowledge, there is no such product anywhere in the world’, said Ekaterina Baranova, a team member and a project promoter.
Express-test for measuring lead content
The winning team of the “SPbU Start-up – 2016” developed an express test which within minutes measures the content of lead in a human body. The main benefit of the express test is that it does not require any specific knowledge and expensive medical equipment. To identify lead poisoning, you should just place your biomaterial, i.e. urine, into a special container with lead sensitive coating, shake it and wait for some time.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 0.5% of world deaths are associated with lead poisoning. For example, a high exposure to lead affects the brain and central nervous system. Some paints and toys may contain this neurotoxin and that is why children often suffer from lead poisoning.
Andrei Kalinichev, the author of the project, a student of “Fundamental and Applied Chemistry” at St Petersburg University
Russian and foreign companies, including companies from the UK, have expressed their interest in this development. The team is now applying for an international patent.
Antibacterial “paint” and a new system of utilisation.
A university spin-off (small innovative enterprise) OOO “SPbU functional materials and coatings” is a project that won the competition “SPbU Start-up – 2016”. The students developed an antibacterial coating that can be applied to ceilings, walls and even ceramic tiles. The secret is special photoactive particles that, under exposure of light, prevent bacteria from spreading and clean the air.
This anti-bacterial effect lasts for about six years.
The innovative coating is the subject of interest to medical institutions, kindergartens, catering facilities, business centres, as well as coating producers.
The researchers are currently involved into one more project – a system of utilisation for oil-in-water emulsion. According to Anton Maevskii, the team leader, the untilisation of one ton of oil-in-water emulsion currently requires twice that amount of reagents. To solve this problem and reduce the cost of processing, the researchers have developed a prototype of unique equipment. The new system has already been used at the plant and allows recycling of oil-in-water emulsion without using reagents.
“I worked for one year in the engineering company where I first came across this problem. With the same team that took part in our first project at the “SPbU Start-up” competition, we developed and built the utilisation system. To my mind, in order to come up with an idea for a successful start-up, you should focus on a specific practical problem, rather than on abstract issues of fundamental science’, says Anton Maevskii, the team leader and Director General of OOO “SPbU functional materials and coatings”.
About “SPbU Start-Up”
In order to participate in the business projects competition “SPbU Start-up”, it is necessary for a team of students or post-graduate students of St Petersburg University in at least three different fields of study to research and develop a commercially successful project. The finalists of the competition will receive financial prizes and an opportunity to start up their own small innovative enterprise. This year’s total prize fund comes to more than 2.5 mln roubles.