Fraunhofer symposium "Network Value" – rewarding Fraunhofer IGB ideas

Fraunhofer IGB News /

The Fraunhofer symposium “Network Value”, held at the beginning of December 2013 in Munich, was well attended with 360 guests. Two candidates from the Fraunhofer IGB were invited to participate in the symposium’s “ideas contest”, where in each of two rounds, ten scientists presented original ideas in the form of a 90-second “elevator pitch”. Due to a technical problem that arose counting the votes of the spectators, all ten proposals in the fi rst round were awarded sponsorship of 25,000 euros – including Dr. Kai Sohn with his “genetic fingerprint” project idea. In the second round, the audience voted Philipp Grimmer and his “ice-free road surfacing” into second place, securing him funding of 25,000 euros.

Fraunhofer-Symposium »Netzwert« 2013
Fraunhofer symposium “Network Value” 2013.
Laureate Philipp Grimmer at the Fraunhofer symposium "Network Value".

Genetic fingerprinting for the diagnosis of infection

Thanks to the fact that all humans have their own individual genetic fingerprint, it is possible to trace perpetrators from the marks they leave at the crime scene. Similarly, bacterial pathogens are characterized by a genetic profi le. Dr. Kai Sohn wants to exploit this analogy for the diagnosis of sepsis pathogens. Every year, more than 56,000 people in Germany die of sepsis – more commonly known as “blood poisoning” – often because the pathogens, mostly bacteria, are not identifi ed in time and hence cannot be fought in a targeted way. His idea is that the DNA of the pathogen circulating in the blood of patients should be isolated and decrypted using the latest methods of high-throughput sequencing. Within a few hours, the doctor at the treating hospital would know which pathogens the patient is infected with and which medications are to be given – on the basis of DNA fingerprinting.

Ice-free roads

Snow and ice in the winter lead to accidents and traffic chaos. A road surfacing that could thaw ice and snow of its own accord would make the roads safer in the time it takes before a snowplow arrives for gritting. The doctorate student Philipp Grimmer came up with the idea whereby a chemical de-icing agent is incorporated in the surfacing itself, encapsulated in polymer particles. If the temperature drops below the freezing point, the particles release the thawing agent into the asphalt. The de-icing agent diffuses onto the surface of the road where it causes the ice and snow to melt. Empty particles will be replenished after discharging – by means of the de-icing agent spread by the oncoming gritters.