Microfluidics and lab-on-chip is an enabling technology with great growth potential. The life science industry has come to realise the trends and potential of miniaturisation which already have affected the information and communication industry in the last decades. Combinations of microfluidics, microelectronics and microoptics provide striking opportunities for advancing biomedical research and creating new markets for the medical sciences industry. In terms of economical and ecologically worthwhile processes, complex Micro-Nano Bio Systems (MNBS) have greatest potential to enhance processes for cell-based assays, chemical analytics and medical diagnostics.
However, there are three main challenges for such MNBS to overcome which hamper growth of the market: First, a lack of economical micro-fabrication methods hampers the implementation of lab-on-chip solutions in an industrial scale. Second, inefficient interfaces between laboratory equipment and mircofluidic devices cause a lack of interoperability. Third, there is no integrated manufacturing platform which provides flexible and cheap design and re-design opportunities.
ML2 will overcome these three main challenges by developing a cost efficient production system for new generation MNBS, combining microfluidics, optics and microelectronics. The devices will base on a multi layer concept. The overall function of the smart device will be split in several subfunctions, which can be of fluidic, optical or electronic nature. Multiple foils will transfer the functionality into technical solutions. Economic roll-to-roll processes will be developed for the production of micro fluidic and optic functional layers. In combination with high-end inkjet solutions the layers offer functionalities of printed electronics and bio-chemical functionalisation. Interconnections between the layers realise a fully integrated system.
Thus, ML2 will provide a design and manufacturing platform for the production of sophisticated devices which combine microfluidics, optics and microelectronics. ML2 devices will be compact devices with increased performance at lower prices while providing higher sensitivity compared to existing MNBS. The packaging method and fully automated production will lead to higher reproducibility, increased integration of bioactive components and higher intelligence of the devices.
The project is funded until autumn 2016 by the seventh framework programme (FP7-ICT-2011-8) and addresses the work topic "Smart components and smart systems integration - Micro-Nano Bio Systems (MNBS)".
7th EU Framework Programme
European research and innovation efforts are set to receive a significant increase in funding with the announcement of the largest set of calls for proposals ever under the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). Worth a total of EUR 8.1 billion, projects funded by these calls are open to organisations and businesses in all EU Member States, FP7 partner states and specifically eligible countries.
The calls target both innovation and a range of societal challenges, building a bridge to Horizon 2020, the next funding programme for EU research from 2014-2020. 'Knowledge is the currency of the global economy,' says European Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn. 'If Europe wants to continue to compete in the 21st century, we must support the research and innovation that will generate growth and jobs, now and in the future. The high level of competition for EU funding makes sure that taxpayers' money goes to the best projects that tackle issues that concern all of us.'
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have a special place in the current round of calls with a package worth around EUR 1.2 billion. This includes financing for SMEs of around EUR 970 million under the 'Cooperation' Theme, where ring-fenced budgets for SMEs will account for up to 75 % of available funding in specific calls. There will also be EUR 250 million for the dedicated SMEs programme 'Research for the benefit of SMEs', including demonstration actions for FP7 research results.