The aim of DigitAlgaesation is to strengthen the European innovation capacity through application oriented fundamental and applied research on cell metabolism, new sensors, controller strategies and system integration. We are at a point where technological breakthroughs on the design and movement control for particular applications are needed to secure Europe leading position in the digitalisation of photosynthetic bioprocesses.
The project shall pave the way for that. The host institutions will form a critical mass on competences, methods and equipment in the field, i.e. all features needed to perform top-level research in the future. To conduct the research at the highest level we target to attract the best ESR candidates from around the world. The large involvement of the private sector from SMEs to global players, and of leading research institutions will significantly enhance the research and innovation capacity of all participating organizations and form a critical mass of young researchers, capable of creating innovation and a constant flow of excellent scientific workforce.
Therefore, the project creates a unique knowledge triangle between research, innovation and education and can act as a role model for the European Research Area. The envisaged research of DigitAlgaesation fits very well to key European research challenges identified in the work programme Horizon 2020 in the areas: Excellent Science, Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies and Advanced Manufacturing and Processing, Innovation in SMEs and as well as in the Biotechnologies Initiatives in which the results and the approach will be very helpful as well. DigitAlgaesation covers the full knowledge chain photosynthetic technology with particular emphasis to bioprocess control and monitoring, bridging a gap in current expertise in microalgae cultivation systems and with the additional benefit that the project results are transferrable to other areas, such as biological processes, including wastewater treatment.
The project excellent science is combined with a Grand Societal challenge-driven approach to technology, i.e. the idea of a transition towards low-carbon sustainable production systems, with a strong industrial focus on overcoming the “valley of death” between good project results and their actual commercialisation. Note that the EU bioeconomy already has a turnover of over €2 trillion, where roughly a quarter of this is accounted for by the so-called bio-based industries, where the total employment is 3.2 million jobs. The global biotechnology market size is valued at USD 270.5 billion in 2013 and is expected to grow at a rate of 12.3% per annum.
Finally, DigitAlgaesation will also aim at strengthening connections with bio-based consortia, either dealing with the European Algae Biomass Association (EABA: www.eaba-association.org) or with the European Energy Research Alliance on Bioenergy (EERA – Bioenergy: eera-bioenergy.eu) and the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI: bbi-europe.eu). The project also will set up links with other existing or future ITN projects with the goal of finding cross-sector and cross-discipline common interests and objectives. DigitAlgaesation will also take advantage from existing and future national projects (e.g., French ANR-Phycover) to build up knowledge and critical mass, and will extend beyond the EU-financed project phase, converting the ETN into a long-term, structured training programme that will continue after the completion of the project.