FCT approved five INESC TEC projects to fight against COVID-19

The Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) approved five INESC TEC projects under the “RESEARCH FOR COVID-19” financing line, with the Institute as the applicant entity in three of said projects – and a total of €85M funding. These initiatives will focus on the development of solutions to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

This set includes two initiatives in the field of robotics, two projects on artificial intelligence and a fifth project focused on production planning.

The Centre for Robotics in Industry and Intelligent Systems (CRIIS) coordinates PNEUMA and RADAR. The first is a low-cost, easy-to-assemble pandemic ventilator with a self-inflating bag, developed to support Portuguese hospitals during the pandemic. PNEUMA enables healthcare professionals to control volume, respiratory rate and the inspiratory/expiratory ratio, and it includes stoppage alarms and a HEPA filter to mitigate the risks of infections, among other specifications.

The RADAR (Autonomous Robot for Disinfection at Hospitals) will help disinfecting rooms at hospital units, through sensors and UV lamps. The robot will include an autonomous navigation system i.e. it will be able to locate and navigate through contaminated rooms, monitor the presence of people in the surroundings, and carry out the disinfection process independently.

The Centre for Biomedical Engineering Research (C-BER) leads the CXR_AI4Covid-19 project, which focuses on the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to analyse thorax X-RAYS, in order to identify the presence of COVID-19 in certain lung regions, thus providing a second opinion to the healthcare professionals involved in screening patients with COVID-19.  INESC TEC is working together with the Regional Health Administration – North.

C-BER is also one of the partners of CAIRUS – COVID-19 Artificial Intelligence-based Risk Unified Stratification tool for clinical management, a project led by the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto (FMUP), in partnership with INESC TEC’s Centre for Applied Photonics (CAP) and Centre for Innovation Technology and Entrepreneurship (CITE). The project proposes a fast and low-cost stratification tool for the prediction of clinical results in patients with COVID-19 – based on serum analysis – using a validated artificial intelligence photonic platform. This tool will make it possible to anticipate the discharge of low-risk patients, with significant benefits for public health and patients.

Finally, the Centre for Enterprise Engineering Systems (CESE) proposes the COVID_3DPRINT initiative, focusing on 3D printing technology to produce medical devices – supported by a network of volunteers. The CESE will also contribute to the development of an information and decision support system for planning the production and distribution of printed products – within the scope of a project led by INEGI.

“The five selected projects represent INESC TEC’s commitment to address the health and socio-economic challenges of the COVID-19. They comprehend a wide range of initiatives that we have been promoting since day one, alongside many of our international counterparts, thus addressing the needs of the community during these difficult times”, said João Claro, INESC TEC’s Chief Executive Officer.

The “RESEARCH 4 COVID-19” financing line will support a total of 66 R&D projects and initiatives (already underway or under development) that address the needs of the National Health Service (SNS), particularly those related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The INESC TEC researcher mentioned in this news piece is associated with UP-FEUP.

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