The ACES Eurovision Tour

June 26, 2015
Sam Findlay

I’ve recently returned from what I call the ACES Eurovision Research Tour – an amazing journey for ACES during which many collaborative projects were progressed. 

Just look at the view from my ‘office’ in Lake Garda, Italy!

Dublin, Ireland

It was great to catch up with Danny Kelly at Trinity College, Dublin. He’s doing brilliant work on mechanical stimulation of living cells and we’re starting to process collaborative activities.


I also met with Mike Lyons at Trinity. Mike continues to do great stuff on electrocatalysis, is forging ahead on water splitting and there are some interesting collaborative possibilities on CO2 reduction.


Robert Forster from Dublin City University is doing some really neat stuff on bipolar electrochemistry.


Also at Dublin City University, I met up with Dermot Diamond’s crew including the Shimmer team. We should be able to get some customised electronics to help with the Knee Sleeve, Bionic Bra and the SwEatch project.


I also caught up with Larissa and Wayne at DCU on their fascinating project to do with electrolytic control of droplet movement.


It seems there might be some new opportunities emerging on the ‘sensors in contact lenses’ front. Some real eye openers there!


While at DCU, we held an ACES Symposium and the following collaborative opportunities emerged:

  • Surrey University:  Alan Dalton’s presentation highlighted some great opportunities on the graphene front.
  • University of Manchester:  Paul Viper’s presentation exposed the amazing array of graphene projects going on at the Graphene Institute and planned for the new $50mil Euro Graphene Engineering Centre and an impressive amount of industry involvement.
  • DCU: Aoffie Morrin is doing some really neat work on sensing technologies for incorporation into wound-healing systems.
  • Louis Lemieux. Coupling electrode technologies and MRI scanners for brain-mapping applications. Some challenges – could be a great collaborative project.


The Australian Ambassador to Ireland, Dr Ruth Adler, was kind enough to host the ACES Research Showcase that evening. It was a brilliant event attended by many old and many potential collaborators from across Europe. During the presentations, the importance of bringing industry into these global research networks was highlighted.


ACES was represented at the Embassy and Symposium by Maria Forsyth, Doug MacFarlane, David Officer, Fletcher Thompson and myself.


Lake Garda, Italy – Europolymer Conference (EUPOC)


Quite a place and quite an event!


Edwin Jager (Linkoping University) and I kicked off the event, putting Organic Bionics front and centre. Edwin introduced work on Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells and the use of actuating conducting polymers to induce cardiac myocyte development.


Other conference highlights included a presentation by Prof Okuzaki on the control of structure and properties of PeDOT.


Stephen Holdcoft’s talk on organic conductors and fuel cells provided great insights into the challenges involved.


Prof Chemeni’s talk on tuning chemistries for effective formation of conducting polymer hybrids was also enlightening.


All of the presentations were excellent and the poster sessions vibrant!


Pisa, Italy

From Lake Garda travelled to Pisa to catch up with long-time collaborator Danilo DeRossi. Centre D’Piaggio is doing great work on soft robotics and on bioreactors for cell studies.


I also met with Fabio DiFrancesco who is working on a large EU consortium project on wound healing. We have a lot to offer this project and hopefully Fabio will visit us soon.


Had a day-off and visited a DaVinci exhibition. Wow!  A (bio) engineer, architect and artist – amazing stuff. Made me think about all those talks I have given on the importance of collaboration and the ‘you can’t do everything yourself’ message. I hope I have not suppressed a modern day DaVinci. Then again he probably had some great collaborators. I will look into that.


Bologna, Italy

I am usually not one for history, but when I was walking the same streets as the great man, Galvani himself, I could not help but feel overwhelmed. I spent some time in Piazza Galvani as I walked around this amazing city.


I gave two talks in Bologna. The first was at the Rizzoli Institute. I appreciated the tremendously warm reception and great interest in the ACES bionics program.  The plan is to build a new collaborative program based around the BioPen, with the Rizzoli Institute.


After that talk I had one hour of respite before being whisked to the Accadenia Di Scienza in the grounds of Bologna University. Galvani was a fellow of this academy and it was pretty special to talk on Organic Bionics in that venue.


The Netherlands

I visited the University of Twente to talk ‘Horizon 2020’ projects with colleagues from the  Netherlands, Finland and Germany.  Work on our existing collaboration with Dirk Grijpma and Suvi Haami on PTMC-graphene composites is progressing well.


I then went on to Maastricht on a Saturday so had a chance to explore another very interesting city.


Further collaborations with Boston Scientific were explored in meetings with Jan Weber.  There is a lot of movement on the biomaterials front at University of Maastricht and we need to follow-up.


Germany and the WITE Conference

Love Wuerzburg!


The WITE conference on tissue engineering was attended by more than 400 people from 20 countries.  A great line up of speakers and I learnt a lot – especially about stem cell material interactions and who is doing what.


I took the opportunity to catch up with colleagues from QUT, University of Wuerzburg and Utrecht University on the international Masters in BioFabrication degree. QUT students have already started, UOW is to commence in July and the Utrecht and Wuerzberg students will start in October. Targeted, integrated projects are taking shape.


Final stop in Germany was Erlangen and it was brilliant to listen to a series of seminars on projects from the Clark and Guldi groups.


They are developing some modelling approaches that will be of interest to ACES, and also a number of projects involving carbon nanohorns, nanotubes and graphene. Thanks to Markus Pfau for looking after me for the day and of course great to catch up with Dirk and Tim.


Well that’s it for the ACES Eurovision Research Tour for 2015.


Quite a journey, met amazing people, learnt a lot and progressed our collaborative projects.


If you’d like to chat about collaborative opportunities, drop me a line.


“On the road again …..just can’t wait to get on the road again” (Willie Nelson).


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