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Thursday, 18 November 2021

ICN2, BIST and GRAPHCAT push novel technologies at PUZZLE X, fair on frontier materials

PUZZLE X, a forum for entrepreneurs, researchers, investors and deep tech professionals to discuss ground-breaking ideas, share their vision and promote new technologies and inventions, closed its doors today. Held on November 16-18 together with the Smart City Expo World Congress, the event registered a high participation of attendees and proved very successful. The ICN2 was among the exhibitors with a booth which attracted a huge attention, shared with GraphCAT and BIST and the spin offs FutureChromes, GraphenicaLab and Cooling Photonics.

After three busy days of presentations, roundtable discussions and flash talks, today concluded PUZZLE X, an innovative event dedicated to frontier materials and their role in meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Integrated in the largest Smart City Expo World Congress, PUZZLE X held a dedicated stage and an exhibition space for companies and research institutes to present their technologies and show prototypes. It took place at the Fira de Barcelona (in Hospitalet de Llobregat) from 16 to 18 of November 2021.

The aim of this event, organized by AMPT (Advanced Material Pandemic Taskforce) and supported by the Government of Spain, Generalitat de Catalunya and Ajuntament de Barcelona, was to provide a space for professionals of frontier materials and smart technologies to meet and create a bridge between different worlds: research, entrepreneurship, venture building, and corporate innovation. All this in a context in which societal impact, sustainability and a better future are central values and goals.

The ICN2 participated in this lively and exciting event with a booth devoted to the GRAPHCAT project, led by ICREA Prof. Jose A. Garrido, shared with the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST), of which it is part. On Wednesday 17 November, a roundtable discussion on Grephene in Catalonia was introduced and chaired by Prof. Garrido, who is also ICN2 Deputy Director, leader of the ICN2 Advanced Electronic Materials and Devices Group and CSO of INBRAIN Neuroelectronics, a spin-off company of ICREA and the ICN2. The other panellists of this discussion on applications of graphene in four key fields –biomedical devices, electronics, materials and membranes, and energy— were Dr Nina Carretero, from the Catalonia Energy Research Institute (IREC), Dr Anibal Pacheco-Sanchez, from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), Prof. Pedro Gomez-Romero, leader of the ICN2 Novel Energy-Oriented Materials Group, and Josep Sanfeliu, from Asabys Partners. Later in the same morning, ICREA Prof. Arben Merkoçi, leader of the ICN2 Nanobioelectronics and Biosensors Group, gave a flash talk on nanotechnologies for diagnostics developed by his team.

The 20 sqm stand in the exhibition area was shared by various institutes members of BIST (ICN2, ICFO, IREC, IBEC) and three young companies which originated from research projects carried out at the ICN2: Cooling Photonics, established in 2020 as a s pin-off to commercialise a technology developed by researchers of the ICN2 Phononic and Photonic Nanostructures Group; FutureChromes, which commercialise photochromic films for smart windows and glasses, a technology that sprang from the ICN2 Nanostructured Functional Materials Group; and GraphenicaLab, a spin-off co-funded by ICREA Prof. Arben Merkoçi that develops printed flexible sensors made of graphene.

In this exhibition space, various members of the involved institutes and spin-off companies took turns to provide information and give a demonstration of the technologies on display to visitors and potential customers. The GraphCAT/BIST “crew” included Clara Barreneche, Head of Innovation & Business Development of BIST, Dr Virginia GrecoÀlex Argemi and Joana Pi-Suñer from the ICN2 Marketing and Communication Department, Dr Pablo Pomposiello and Dr Claudia Nieva, from the ICN2 Business and Innovation Department, Ylenia Almar, officer in the ICN2 Competitive Funding Department and Project Manager of GraphCAT, Dr Amador Pérez, from the ICN2 Advanced Electronic Materials and Devices, and Dr. Alastair Cunningham, Project Portfolio Manager at ICFO. For Cooling Photonics there were Javier Achiaga and Antonio Cuenca, respectively CEO and COO of the company. GraphenicaLab was represented by its CEO Miguel Vilaplana, and FutureChromes by Dr Caludio Roscini (CTO and Senior Postdoctoral researcher at the ICN2), Dr Héctor Torres (Business Developer), Aleix Carrascull (researcher) and Dr Daniel Ruiz-Molina (Scientific Advisor and group leader at the ICN2). A video about the applications developed by the group led by Prof. Daniel Ruiz was premiered during the event:

Among the other appealing technologies discussed on stage were 3D printing (including live steak printing, cooking and tasting), a bicycle that is able to capture CO2, robotic surgery and graphene-brain interfaces (with Carolina Aguilar, CEO of INBRAIN Neuroelectronics, as one of the panellists), materials deep tech for climate action and other sustainable development goals. A few specific roundtables were also held in parallel, as well as a pitch session for start-up companies to promote their ideas and attract new investors.

Meant to be a space for different stakeholders to meet and share knowledge and visions, with its varied programme and its modern format and design, PUZZLE X attracted not only entrepreneurs and investors, but also students and young scientists interested in learning more about cutting-edge technologies and disruptive ideas. The stands full of customers and the sessions always packed with attendees are a proof that this event was a success and will be proposed again in the future.

See you there next year!