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Finnish-Indian projects in food biotechnology and nanomaterials given boost

18.11.11

Research collaboration between Finland and India will further strengthen in food biotechnology and nanomaterials research. The Academy of Finland and two Indian research funding organisations, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST), have decided to fund three projects in food biotechnology and six projects in nanomaterials research. The projects to be funded are researching topics such as the origins and process of microbiota development, allergenic food ingredients, bioactive glasses and solar cell applications.

The Academy will fund joint projects in food biotechnology with a total of EUR 1.3 million and in nanomaterials research with some EUR 3 million. The Academy will fund the Finnish researchers and the DBT and the DST the Indian researchers within the projects. The aim is to support Finnish-Indian collaboration in food biotechnology and nanomaterials research. Another aim is to support researcher mobility and the creation and strengthening of research collaboration networks between Finland and India.

The funded projects in food biotechnology:

Seppo Salminen (University of Turku) heads a project researching the origins and process of microbiota development in different geographical areas and environments. The development of infant intestinal colonisation is important for future health. The goal is to combine Finnish and Indian biotechnology and food expertise with a view to identifying the exposure to different lifestyle diseases such as obesity, allergies and metabolic diseases. The Indian partner is the National Centre for Cell Science, Pune University.

The project of Maija Tenkanen (University of Helsinki) and Kati Katina (VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland) aims at gaining a better understanding of the key factors dictating dextran synthesis in the high-dextran producing Weissella species. Another aim is to study the production, properties and use for in vitro dextran synthesis of dextran sucrases. The research is expected to enable the controlled and enhanced production of dextrans with tailored properties for different food and other applications. The results will also form a basis for potential efficient industrial applications of Weissella species in the future. The Indian partner is the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IITG), Guwahati.

Marja-Leena Laukkanen (VTT) investigates allergenic food ingredients and food safety. The focus of her project is on the risks of food allergies where an ingested food or food component causes an adverse, even life-threatening immunological reaction. The project is expected to give new insights into the food allergens in celery, apple, mustard and cow’s milk as well as into IgE/IgG allergen interactions. The project will also aim to develop new tools and assay principles for the detection of even trace amounts of allergens. The Indian partner is the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, New Delhi.

The funded projects in nanomaterials research:

Pekka Vallittu (University of Turku) and Mikko Hupa (Åbo Akademi University) focus on researching the interaction between biomaterials and the host tissue. During the past thirty years, bioactive materials forming an interfacial chemical bond with the host tissue have been introduced as alternative biomaterials in dental, head-and-neck surgery and orthopaedic applications. The present project aims to further pave the way to implants with a fibre-reinforced composite (FCR) core giving long-term stability and with bioactive surface layers to provide good bonding to tissue. The Indian partner is the Nano-Structured Materials Division of the Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute, Kolkata.

In their project, Hannu Häkkinen (University of Jyväskylä) and Robin Ras (Aalto University) investigate metal nanoparticles that are stabilised by functional organic ligands. Potential applications of such nanoparticles include biolabelling, sensing, imaging, nanocatalysis and scavenging of harmful heavy metals from nature. The Indian partner is the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.

Markku Sopanen (Aalto University) and Filip Tuomisto (Aalto University) are investigating the structure-property relationship in GaN-based nanostructured materials with the ultimate aim of improving light emission properties. A better understanding of the structure-property relationship of nanostructured nitride semiconductors will lead to significant advances in the field of semiconductor optoelectronics and feasibly also in photovoltaics. The Indian partner is the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai.

The project headed by Martti Kauranen (Tampere University of Technology) aims to develop nanostructured materials with novel non-linear optical properties. The main objective is to use magnetic-dipole and electric-quadrupole interactions in non-linear optics. The symmetry rules of such higher-multiple interactions differ from those of the electric-dipole interactions. They allow second-order effects in centrosymmetric materials, overcoming the traditional non-centrosymmetry requirement. The Indian partner is Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT).

Kari Rissanen (University of Jyväskylä) heads a project that investigates certain luminescent materials attached to gold nanoparticles as sensor materials for metal ions and anions in sequential manner. The synthesis of molecules with complex structures and exploring their applications in daily life is one of the challenges facing nanoscience today. The project is highly interdisciplinary, which will ensure a wide knowledge base in various fields, such as self-assembly, surface chemistry, physical organic chemistry, chemical topology and molecular electronics. The project also aims to establish a link and a common ground between these fields. The Indian partner is the School of Chemical Sciences of the National Institute of Science, Education and Research (NISER), Bhubaneswar.

Kirsi Tappura (VTT) received funding for her project that focuses on developing novel nanostructured materials for solar cell applications. Specifically, the project aims to utilise plasmonic effects with a view to enhancing the efficiency of harvesting solar light into thin solar cell structures to be converted into electricity. In addition to enhanced energy efficiency, the proposed methods will also provide potential for significant cost reduction and consequently, for more competitive future solar cells. The Indian partner is the Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi.

More information

• Food biotechnology: Science Adviser Hannele Lahtinen, tel. +358 9 7748 8409, hannele.lahtinen(at)aka.fi

• Nanomaterials research: Senior Science Adviser Pentti Pulkkinen, tel. +358 9 7748 8342, pentti.pulkkinen(at)aka.fi

Academy of Finland Communications
Riitta Tirronen
Information Manager
tel. +358 9 7748 8369
riitta.tirronen(at)aka.fi

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