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Microbial Lifeforms Offer New Sources of Color


Microbial Lifeforms Offer New Sources of Color

Bacteria may be too small to see, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t colorful. An Austrian start-up called Vienna Textile Lab is taking advantage of that with a new line of dyes that are made using naturally-occurring bacteria.

Synthetic dyes on the market often rely on petrochemicals, whereas many of the natural dyes are subject to the conventional limitations that face all natural products: seasonal and geographic limitations, and the vagaries of weather. By cultivating bacterial strains in the lab, Vienna Textile Lab is able to capture the best of both worlds - a natural source of dyes that is endlessly renewable on demand.

The company has already developed a wide range of colors, and demonstrated that its dyes are both colorfast and capable of use with materials from cotton and wool to polyester. The company’s early commercialization plans focus on selling dyed fabric, but they ultimately hope to license the technology to large-scale textile manufacturers.


Watch video HERE.


New Actuators Allow Robots to Play a Role in Medical Recovery


New Actuators Allow Robots to Play a Role in Medical Recovery

Following a stroke, many patients have to relearn many of their motor skills. Robotic exoskeletons have been touted as a potentially valuable tool for helping patients develop these neuromuscular skills, but the technology has not yet lived up to that potential.

A start-up called LinkDyn may have come up with the solution. The foundation for LinkDyn’s technologies is a novel actuator, which is the component in the robot that is responsible for controlling its movement. The LinkDyn actuator is extremely sensitive to user input, meaning recovering patients don’t have to apply a great deal of force in order for the system to respond. At the same time, the actuator doesn’t move too quickly or too powerfully, which would pose safety concerns. In short, the actuator allows LinkDyn’s technologies to move smoothly and easily, which is essential for any viable neuromuscular recovery system.

LinkDyn has already developed a robotic arm that can be controlled using a virtual reality-based platform that draws on the vast literature of neuromuscular research. In addition, the company is in the process of building wearable exoskeleton robotics with funding from the National Science Foundation. The company’s ultimate goal is to make robotic rehabilitation not only possible, but economically viable for patients.


An Innovative Open Data Initiative

In complex settings like major cities, access to and productive use of data is increasingly critical

Dublinked’s online data store provides access to data from both the public and private sectors

Dublinked’s activities support innovation in social, environmental, and economic arenas

There is significant potential to transfer Dublinked’s model to other cities around the world

Dublinked is a partnership among entities in the Dublin region that provides access to valuable datasets that were previously inaccessible or difficult to find to foster innovation and economic development.



Innovation Summary

Dublinked is a unique open-data initiative based in Dublin, Ireland that supports collaborative and creative problem solving among members of the regional government and industry sectors. Dublinked’s central resource is an online data store for private citizens, government agencies, entrepreneurs, and businesses. Unlike other open-data initiatives that focus solely on opening up public data with an eye to transparency, Dublinked provides broad access to datasets from both the public and private sectors. Dublinked’s objectives include spurring job creation, creating new products and services, and providing a space in which to test new ideas and technologies. The initiative’s scope ranges from supporting large industry working on infrastructure projects, to helping startups develop new apps or supporting social entrepreneurs working to alleviate poverty and improve health outcomes in the city. Several apps, including one that identifies travel routes and another that maps projects being planned across the city, have already been developed.Dublinked also provides opportunities for public and private parties to come together and use data to drive systems-based thinking that can lead to innovative solutions. It organizes workshops to improve relationships and to simplify the processes for people in the region to work together.


Dublinked is ultimately about leveraging existing resources to solve problems. It opens up human and information resources which may previously have been inaccessible or difficult to find, and provides a space for their productive use. It creates an environment to support innovation in social, environmental, and economic arenas, which could lead to solutions that reduce waste, conserve water, optimize traffic flow, or reduce resource use in other ways.

In complex settings like major cities, with the immense scale of the resources and systems at work and the magnitude of data being collected, access to and productive use of data is increasingly critical. Dublinked has created a low-cost model for connecting people with data in a way that benefits both the public sector and businesses, which has the potential to transfer to other cities around the world to help them optimize their resource use.


The idea for Dublinked, which was founded formally in 2011, came about during one of the greatest financial crises Ireland has ever experienced, when it was clear that the city needed new ways to do better with fewer resources. Funding comes from the National University of Ireland Maynooth and four local authorities (Dublin City Council, DunLaoghaire Rathdown County Council, Fingal County Council and South Dublin County Council). Members pay a small fee to access data. IBM Research provides open collaboration technologies and tools.