Enschede, Netherlands, 21-6-2014 — /EuropaWire/ — UT researchers Jan Harmen Wiebenga and Johan Hol have received a valorisation grant of 200,000 euros from technology foundation STW. With this grant, the enterprising pair can further expand upon the work of their spin-off company Innprove Solutions. It is the last time that STW awards this grant as a gift; from now on the grant will be a loan.
The couple focuses on developing a software package for predicting tribological behaviour: a discipline in mechanical engineering that investigates the effects of contact between materials under various circumstances: lubricated or dry, rough or polished, fast of slow, warm or cold.
A lot of interest from the market
There is a great interest for Wiebenga and Hol’s product, that they developed during their doctoral degree at the University of Twente. They did this in collaboration with research institute M2i. The pair obtained their doctoral degree within the Applied Mechanics department (Prof. Ton van den Boogaard) of the Faculty of Engineering Technology. Their software package is mostly used in the automotive industry, in order to accurately predict the tribological behaviour and the friction in production processes of new parts, such as a bonnet or car door.
Innprove Solutions focuses on predicting that friction on the basis of mathematical models. With this, it becomes possible to influence this behaviour in a positive manner. In this way, they can predict, explain and prevent problems in the production in the virtual design process, for example by adjusting the applied material, tool or lubrication. They have many clients in Germany.
Reducing trial and error
The trial and error can not yet be completely replaced by simulations. Tests with prototypes and experiments are still necessary in the mass production of (car) parts, but due to the software, the accuracy of the production process strongly increases. The trial and error is strongly reduced.
According to Wiebenga, when implementing the grant they will focus on two things: “Firstly, an industrial demonstrator. We are applying the developed software to an industrial part and process in the motorcar industry. Additionally, we will prepare the software for publishing on the market.”
About the ‘Valorisation Grant’
The Valorisation Grant is a personal subsidy to entrepreneurial researchers for developing innovative high-tech businesses. The Valorisation Grant is meant to cover the ‘funding gap’, the difficulty that entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial researchers experience when attempting to finance the first steps of knowledge utilization.
Wiebenga and Hol received the phase 2 grant (valorisation phase). In this phase the first few steps of the valorisation track are made, such as, for example, developing the product portfolio, attracting a ‘launching customer’ and initiating negotiations with private financiers. The aim of this phase is to reach the point where private financiers are willing to take on the costs of the further commercial development.
In the past few years the Applied Mechanics department already received five valorisation grants of the STW.
Jochem Vreeman, Science Communication Officer, tel +31 6 12 22 12 53