Who’s NGI? Meet the NGI Explorers Oscars Winners!

NGI’s current fellowship program between the EU and US concluded with an NGI Explorers Awards Ceremony to celebrate the outstanding achievements of its Explorers who bridged trans-continental Research and Innovation collaboration with the USA.

The European researchers and innovators worked directly with US interdisciplinary, tech-driven collaborative groups in AI, Cybersecurity, Cloud/Edge Computing, IoT, 5G; and in verticals: health, smart cities and buildings, network security and connectivity, smart transport, and tourism.

Each Explorer had the unique opportunity to work on research collaboration over a three month period – other exchanges are minimum one year. The experience gave innovators an opportunity for scientific validation of their product, idea or services. They worked with professors and PhD students and were able to connect with US markets in a different approach to the research-led environment of European research. NGI Explorers received travel and subsidies support.

The US host did not receive funding. In addition to the host’s scientific/innovation supervision, the administration of the US University supported each Explorer through the bureaucratic process to get a special visa. These efforts were time-consuming, and US partners were personally involved to make it happen on a fully voluntary basis.

Explorers’ rated the collaboration with US partners in the following terms:

  • “This programme made me realise the value of linking with industry entrepreneurs. I never did it before, and now I can’t think of moving my research forward without nurturing such links!”
  • “This is a highly desirable program for early startup founders seeking top scientific validation for their offerings”
  • “Now I look beyond the academic perspective on my solution – looking at it as a product thanks to the programme.”
  • We have investigated how we could apply for funding for follow-up collaborations, but funding in the US is only for US-owned companies and the other way around in the EU. It’s very challenging to receive funding for joint projects that make both sides commit to the work.”

NGI EXPLORERS AWARDS

Watch all the pitches here: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMry6uwmHiLZ6L4dFW2Demff21MkBeYGg

BEST PROJECT EXCELLENCE

The evaluation considered the motivation for the mission, the project’s objectives & concept, ambition, novelty and the knowledge gap in the field of interest.

  • Awarded Explorer: Bruna Fonseca
  • Project title: Internet of Stem Cells Dust: Cyber Control of Polymer-based Devices for Treating Lung Damage from SARS-CoV-2
  • About the project: “the project aims to create a nanodevice to encapsulate stem cells to be inhaled and implanted directly into the lungs to help with the treatment of patients infected with COVID-19. Using Internet of Things and Ultrasound concepts, we will create a system to release the stem cells into the damaged lung tissues allowing faster and more effective treatment, to increase the chances of survival of those patients who are in more severe stages of the infection.”
  • Video: Bruna Fonseca | NGI Explorers 2nd Expedition: Meet the Explorers
  • Awarded Explorer: Greg Agriopoulos
  • Project title: Magos eXtended Reality
  • About the project: “Can you imagine physical interaction with limited touch capabilities? This is exactly the case in eXtended Reality due to technology limitations that restrict physical interaction. The current controllers try to simulate the sense of touch, blocking the natural interaction via fingers. Via Magos, the end user can interact using their fingers as this happens in the physical world. Magos, the next gen. human-computer-interaction solution, aims to revolutionise the interaction framework in VR.”
  • Video: Greg Agriopoulos | NGI Explorers Third Expedition: meet the Explorers

BEST NGI EXPLORERS IMPACT

This category judged the outcomes achieved by the project by the end of the mission in the form of tangible results, including sustainability indicators with the US partner. Examples may include peer-reviewed papers, technical specifications, software bundles, new services, business/commercial agreements, etc.

  • Awarded Explorer: Serena Leka
  • Project title: NGI Explorer – “The use of AI for idea management to assist radical innovation in new product development: Case of US firms”.
  • About the project: “The project emphasises the notion that a hybrid approach to idea management (IM) is superior to sole computational evaluations or sole human decisions. Machines are better at information processing and providing results, while humans present biases. The study aims at proposing a novel method for managing new product development ideas in firms via AI as the toolbox. We would contribute to the innovation management literature, but not only, by extending the current knowledge of IM automation.”
  • Video: Serena Leka | NGI Explorers Third Expedition: meet the Explorers
  • Awarded Explorer: Luis de la Tore Cubillo
  • Project title: Remote-Controlled Access to Internet of Things Devices
  • About the project: “The main purpose is promoting, testing and validating in the US market in general, and in the US Node in particular, Nebulous Systems’ cross cutting solutions that allow the advantages of IoT to be brought to educational and research contexts, with the security and privacy measures they need, and which are not generally considered in IoT devices and cyber-physical systems.”
  • Video: Luis de la Torre | NGI Explorers 2nd Expedition: Meet the Explorers

BRIGHTEST EU EXPLORER

This category evaluated the individual achievement of the project, looking into how the Explorers’ careers benefited from the missions.

  • Awarded Explorer: Roberto Medina Bujalance
  • Project title: Transmit one bit the longest using the least power utilising LoRa
  • About the project: “By designing and creating a piece of hardware that can keep working for several years without maintenance, we can build the next generation of radio communication sensors. The modules will be used in Smart Cities and Smart rural areas to track parameters for agriculture, fires, earthquakes, animals’ life, or citizen health problems. The main innovation will be designing a piece of hardware with optimising payload and software to reduce the consumption of the devices and improve the coverage and range of the radio.”
  • Video: Roberto Medina Bujalance | NGI Explorers 2nd Expedition: Meet the Explorers
  • Awarded Explorer: Lukasz Porwol
  • Project title: VR-Dialogue – AI & VR driven Next Generation Online Communication
  • About the project: “NGI promises new technological solutions to ensure efficient online information exchange. The aim of the project is to investigate how the emerging VR based communication technologies through its capacity to deliver strong sense presence and embodiment for discussion participants can help in alleviating some of the major obstacles hindering effective online communication and collaboration in NGI.”
  • Video: Lukasz Porwol | NGI Explorers 2nd Expedition: Meet the Explorers

BEST SOCIAL INNOVATION IMPACT

This category is aligned with the Next Generation Internet vision, analysing which idea contributed the most to have a positive social impact.

  • Awarded Explorer: Rui A.Costa
  • Project title: GoGreen – Improving sustainable transportation via green behaviours
  • About the project: “Sustainability plays a crucial role in everyone’s life, and most of the time, only a few people understand that even a small gesture can have a tremendous effect on everyone’s life. The GoGreen solution consists of a digital rewarding mechanism based on Blockchain technology for integration with existing or third-party applications. The aim is to create awareness about CO2 emissions and encourage people to use the most sustainable means by validating their choices using the GoGreen app”.
  • Video: Rui Costa | NGI Explorers Third Expedition: meet the Explorers
  • Awarded Explorer: Franziska Kirstein
  • Project title: Ethical Guidelines for the Development of AI-supported Healthcare Robots – with focus on the Patient Transfer Rehabilitation Robot by Blue Ocean Robotics
  • About the project: “The Patient Transfer Rehabilitation Robot brings patient handling to the next level. In the near future, it will be equipped with AI features such as intelligent rehabilitation support. The project aims at investigating AI trends that will play an essential role in healthcare and the potential ethical implications when these trends become a reality. The final result will be a set of ethical guidelines that healthcare robotics companies can use if they equip their robots with AI features.”
  • Video: Franziska Kirstein | NGI Explorers Third Expedition: meet the Explorers

US node winners

Special thanks were given to two US Professors who made the Explorers’ missions possible: