With billions of Euros committed to research and development every year, industrial-sized companies are the innovative backbone of Europe.
Koen Andries, Jerome Guillemont & Team
Solving the world's tuberculosis problem by cutting off the bacteria's energy supply
With their revolutionary new therapy, Koen Andries and his team have found an extremely promising approach that can save thousands of lives.
Microbiologist at Janssen Pharmaceutica (Andries); chemist at Janssen Research & Development (Guillemont)
Tuberculosis could be treated in half the time with the first new anti-TB drug to hit the market in 40 years. Koen Andries and Jérôme Guillemont headed the Franco-Belgian efforts that led to the discovery of bedaquiline, a molecule that inhibits mycobacterial growth by cutting off the bacteria’s energy supply. This is a novel approach to battling TB, as the researchers tackled the challenge by looking at everything afresh, abandoning all preconceived notions. Inspired by the prospect of saving lives, scientists re-tested and re-combined thousands of chemical substances, and finally stumbled upon the bedaquiline molecule. Proving to be an effective inhibitor of mycobacterial growth, the molecule not only slowed bacterial reproduction but also paralysed energy supply in the bacterial cell. As up to two million people die every year from TB, this fresh approach provides hope of stopping the traditionally more drug-resistant strains of the disease. Also, it could save people in developing countries, where time-consuming treatments are not practical.
Erik Dahlman, Muhammad Kazmi & Team
Paving the way for the future of high-speed mobile internet with network communication standard LTE ("4G")
The LTE standard shows that companies can find ways to combine their developments and make them available as an industry standard.
Research engineers at Ericsson, the mobile technology company
LTE - Long Term Evolution- is the Ferrari on the mobile data superhighway. The new standard for mobile internet browsing is the result of the work of this team of Ericsson engineers. Speed and stability are the key attractions of LTE, as data is transferred to and from mobile devices just as speedily as with a broadband connection. Soon LTE, or 4G, will replace the existing 3G mobile data networks, which are straining under heavy use. Consequently, people will be able to load data-heavy items such as video on their phones. Thousands of patents make up the new LTE standards, as researchers around the world have been racing to solve the puzzle. The primarily Swedish teams at Ericsson contributed about 25% of all the essential patents in the standard. The technology uses one air interface for downlinks from the network mast to the device, and another one for uplinks, hence allowing for optimal signal transmission in both directions. In rural areas with poor connectivity, LTE will provide a viable alternative for home internet.
Luigi Cassar, Gian Luca Guerrini and team
Battling pollution with self-cleaning, air-purifying cement
This cement is an invaluable contribution to improving the quality of life in the world’s cities by combatting pollution.
R&D chemists at Italcementi, the cement manufacturer
Self-cleaning facades and smog-eating surfaces that battle air pollution is the prospect for modern buildings following Luigi Cassar’s innovation. Along with his team, the Italian chemist has developed a new cement mixture that is both self-cleaning and air-purifying, because it contains photocatalytic compounds which use sunlight to break down pollutants. Standard cement production is a major source of CO2 pollution, and to keep buildings clean requires aggressive chemicals or costly silicone coatings. But this new cement brings a vision of a city that cleans itself, improving the quality of living for its inhabitants. Cassar’s team mixed cement with titanium dioxide – a brilliant white photocatalyst – which oxidises common pollutants into harmless substances in the presence of sunlight. Cassar’s findings suggest a 50% reduction in air pollution around houses coated with the cement mixture, indicating significant potential for construction and modernisation projects in areas of the world currently struggling with poor air quality. Imagine construction projects which counter pollution rather than contribute to it!
View the Make, Create, Innovate film about Cassar’s team's innovation.