Research at Politecnico di Milano gains 5 new ERC grants

European Research Council awards our university with a Consolidator Grant and 4 Proof of Concept grants

The Politecnico di Milano obtains five new ERC (European Research Council) Grants.

Camilla Colombo, with the GREEN SPECIES gains a Consolidator Grant, intended for researchers with at least 7 years of experience since obtaining their PhD and with a very promising scientific profile. These are scholars who aim to consolidate their independence in research. Funding can reach €2 million per single project, for a maximum duration of 5 years. The project was selected among more than 2,200 proposals received by the ERC.If we consider that this year only 14.4% of the projects submitted have obtained funding this is a great result for the Politecnico di Milano.

Like many factors exercising environmental stress on the Earth, space debris is growing at an exponential pace. Immediate action is required to mitigate the growing risk of collision and assure a sustainable use of Space - a common good - in the future. GREEN SPECIES will define an interdisciplinary approach for the modelling of space debris and the elaboration of estimates about its evolution. A probabilistic model of space debris taking into consideration all physical, economic and political variables will be developed. The project will incorporate the management of the debris by means of a robust controller applied to the space debris model, described as a complex dynamic system. The ideal feedback control actions will be converted into policies and guidelines through quantitative indicators, so as toevaluate both the environmental impact and the social and economic benefit of space missions in the journey to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

GREEN SPECIES will also propose a new economic model for the definition of a credit system for a sustainable space. The project will allow the creation of the Space Sustainability Lab for advanced modelling and control of the debris through high-performance computing and virtual reality.

Other four researchers from the Politecnico have obtained funding for an ERC Proof of Concept (PoC), which aims to allow a progression of previously ERC-funded ideas from pioneering to applied research.

The team coordinated by Carlo Spartaco Casari is to develop a new printable anti-counterfeiting system (PYPAINT) based on carbon-based nano-structures with a specific optoelectronics answer, allowing the creation of a unique identifier code for an artwork, invisible to the human eye. The project stems from the research activity at the NanoLab of the Energy Department as part of the EspLORE project and is carried out in collaboration with the start-up DayOne. With PYPAINT, the research group wants to help safeguard the extreme value of artworks in Europe and the rest of the world.

The CATALYSE project of Matteo Maestri is centred around the development of a software for multi-scale modelling of industrial catalytic processes, combining rigorous adherence to core principles and advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms. The software will provide a plug-and-play framework for the inclusion of detailed atomistic-level kinetics in advanced chemical reactor models, serving as a key tool to support the development of new technologies for energy transition and sustainable use of resources

Francesco Topputo obtained funding for his GUIDO project, which will lay the foundations for the realisation of an autonomous driving unit for satellites in deep space. Steering a satellite means planning and controlling its trajectory as well as deciding how to direct its thrusters during manoeuvres. The innovative element of GUIDO is its ability to find trajectories with reliable optimization algorithms that can run on a low performance and low energy consumption circuit board. The GUIDO PoC will be developed at the DART Lab, the laboratory managed by Topputo where steering and navigation algorithms for space probes are tested through simulations with integrated hardware.

Despite their astonishing clinical success on adults, there are still no mesenchymal stem cell (MSC)-based products approved for paediatric use, useful to prevent progression in diseases called childhood interstitial lung disease (ChILD). The goal of Manuela Raimondi’s NICHILD project is to standardize and automatize the production of MSC secretome and validate it for its translation to paediatric use to treat ChILD.

Therefore, the Politecnico di Milano has now received a total of 60 ERC grants, 14 of which are Consolidator Grants. Within Horizon Europe, the European Union’s 2021-2027 framework project for research and innovation, the Politecnicohas, to date, achieved the outstanding result of 126 winning projects, 17 of which with the ERC, for a total value of over 64 million euros. Currently the application success rate of the Politecnico is 20.45%, compared to about 15% at the European level. In terms of the number of funded projects, the Politecnico is fifth out of all universities in the European Union.