Tallinn University of Technology

To solve problems associated with the SARS-CoV2 virus, 13 research projects, the financing of which was proposed by the Estonian Research Council evaluation committee this week, are starting. A total of 2.14 million euros are being allocated for the projects.

The applied research and experimental development projects that received funding were chosen from 29 applications submitted in an emergency targeted grant application round opened in July. The capacity of the projects is between 100-200 000 euros.
In TalTech, the projects that received funding were "Biodegradable formulations for antiviral coatings and sanitizers [BIOFORM]" by Yevgen Karpichev, "Development of ventilation solutions for reduction of respiratory infections and sizing principles for SARS-CoV-2 virus" by Jarek Kurnitski, "Hospital robot carrier" by Innar Liiv, "Novel diagnostic tools for detection of SARS-CoV-2 infection for clinical and point-of-care use" by Vitali Sõritski and "Monte-Carlo analysis of the spreading rate of a virus as a function of human mobility and social distancing" by Jaan Kalda. TalTech is participating as a partner in the project "Novel nanoparticle-based filter materials and face masks for SARS-CoV-2 inactivation" (Andres Krumme).

Researchers will begin to develop, for example, more effective face masks biodegradable ingredients for antiviral covers and cleaning agents, in five different subject areas. They will find out which antiviral ingredients could be used in standard products such as disinfectants or cosmetics as well as look for surface treatment possibilities for the antiviral treatment of hard-to-clean surfaces and ways to purify indoor air of respiratory viruses. A patient questionnaire prototype will be developed and a data analysis tool to predict the spreading speed of the virus will be created. To reduce the workload and infection risk of healthcare workers in the pandemic, robots will be developed for hospitals and care homes.

Chairman of an expert panel, Tartu University professor Irja Lutsar highlighted that many very strong applications were submitted. "Several of them intended to solve problems broadly related to avoiding viral diseases and not just the coronavirus. Due to a selective contest and limited finances, some good applications were unfortunately left without funding this time. However, a targeted grant round could be used to solve burning issues in the future," said Lutsar.
According to Siret Rutiku, Head of the Department of Research Funding, targeted grants aim to support the fast implementation of researchers' results of long-term research. "Rushing is not inherent to science to it can take long years to reach practical solutions. Sometimes, the results of researchers' work remain unimplemented due to either lack of funding or the disinterest of entrepreneurs. Projects carried out with the support of targeted grants will help us in the fight against coronavirus in the near future and presumably similar situations in the long term. I really hope that the importance and necessity of science in all of our daily lives do not need proof any longer."

A more precise overview of the funded projects and a summary of the targeted grant application round can be found on the research council's website.

The projects that received funding will begin this year and are planned to reach results by the end of next year. Targeted grants are financed by the state's supplementary budget.

Additional information from the TalTech Research Administration Office: Marika Lunden, marika.lunden@taltech.ee

Additional information:
Siret Rutiku
Head of the Department of Research Funding
731 7381, 5342 0639