The tecnet-accent Innovation Prize was awarded at Danube University Krems, University for Further Education. For the first time, also an honorary prize was awarded. The topics of the winning projects range from healthcare to IT development.

The prizes were awarded by Petra Bohuslav, Minister of Economic and Technology Affairs. For the state councilor, technology and innovation are important pillars for the positive economic development of Lower Austria. “The Innovation Awards are an important step in implementing the spin-off strategy of the Lower Austrian province,” Petra Bohuslav highlights. This strategy was launched three years ago to bridge the gap between science and business and thus create some impulse for startups. In close cooperation with Danube University Krems, the technology financing company tecnet equity and Tough Tech Incubator accent ideas from research should be fostered to result in company start-ups. Bohuslav concludes: “We want to show our young researchers what opportunities are available to implement outstanding research projects also economically.”

The Innovation Award focuses on the question of commercial usability of scientific knowledge and novelties. Therefore, the jury not only assessed the actual research work, but primarily the economic implementation strategy on side of the young researchers. An important component is the further development of a research project into a product or service as well as the associated aspects such as customer benefit, market potential, target group marketing strategy or patent protection.

Rector Friedrich Faulhammer emphasizes: “The tecnet-accent Innovation Award focuses on innovative and at the same time practice-relevant research results. The award is a visible contribution to a transdisciplinary and innovative approach in science.”

Very prominently, a new method for faster pathogen identification in sepsis can be mentioned. Matthias Pilecky won the Innovation Award with his “SHOTPAS” project. Sepsis is still the leading cause of death from infection. In sepsis, the immune system attacks its own tissue or organs. To treat sepsis, time is a crucial factor, because treatment must be provided as fast as possible. At the moment, however, the diagnosis alone usually takes two days. The new procedure should enable a diagnosis to be made in just a few hours, making treatment much earlier.

Furthermore the multimedia and interactive web platform on Lower Austrian social and contemporary history is to be mentioned. The team was awarded the honorary award for their “History.First” project. It aims at an easy-to-understand, multimedia and interactive web platform on Lower Austrian social and contemporary history. The project itself has set the task of preparing history in a new way for both children and adults. For instance, the situation of the population in different epochs is portrayed using topics such as eating or living, and the historical dimension are highlighted accordingly. This project was developed in cooperation with the research network “Interdisciplinary Regional Studies” as a team project in the Web & Mobile Media Design course.

The Managing Director of tecnet equity, Doris Agneter, explains: “The aim of our award is to encourage highly qualified researchers to deal with the economic possibilities of their developments. In addition, we would like to contribute to the closer cooperation of science projects at the universities and economic partners in Lower Austria.” Michael Moll from accent, business incubator to the Lower Austrian province, adds: “We are pleased that we can once again present the award to project teams this year who have achieved remarkable results with their innovative ideas and who have also dealt with their practical implementation. A strong generation of young scientists grows up who has shown great potential for starting their own businesses.”

The awards also see two second places on the subject of extracellular vesicles. Sobha Karuthedom George received the second prize for her project “Enrichment of Time-to-Result for Pathogen Identification in Sepsis Patients”. Extracellular vesicles are small structures that are released by all cells in the body and play an important role in signal transmission. The extraction of these vesicles is very complex. As part of this project, methods are being developed to extract extracellular vesicles from the blood. The aim is to develop new biomedical applications. Alexander Otahal equally arrived 2nd in this competition his project “Extracellular Vesicles – Pioneers of Regenerative Medicine”. Degenerative cartilage loss in old age leads to painful and inflammatory joints, commonly better known as arthrosis. Currently only symptom treatment is possible, whereas the actual cause, cartilage degeneration, remains unaffected. Otahal’s innovation is to use only the vesicles from the blood products for treatment, since they contain micro-RNA molecules that rejuvenate old cartilage cells and stimulate actual cartilage regeneration.

Günther Schreder received the third place with his project “DJ Isotype”. This project deals with the application of isotypes for interactive information visualization in data journalism. Isotype is a promising approach to the presentation of statistical data for non-statistical users. So far, it has hardly been investigated empirically. There is a lack of suitable applications for producing isotype graphics. In the project, templates for prototypical visualizations and intuitive, narrative interactions have been developed and examined with regard to their cognitive effects, as well as usability and user experiences. In addition, a prototype web application has been programmed to help journalists create isotype-based visualizations quickly and easily.