CULTURE

Made in Greece: 21 reasons to feel optimistic

Who said there is no news to restore Greeks? faith in our potential during these woeful times? Read on and you?ll find 21 good reasons to stay optimistic.

In the last year alone, John Matsoukas from Patra headed a research team that developed a vaccination for multiple sclerosis, Manassis Mitrakas and his team at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH) invented a way of extracting arsenic from tap water that it is low-cost and very effective, Sofia Panteliou, at the University of Patra, developed a pioneering instrument for diagnosing osteoporosis, while again at the AUTH, Stergios Logothetis found a way to construct flexible photovoltaic panels that can even be built into fabric.

Yes, there are thousands of Greeks out there who are working hard to develop beneficial innovations. A number of them were brought into the limelight by the ?Greece Innovates? competition, which has been running since last May and is organized by the Confederation of Greek Enterprises (SEV) and Eurobank EFG, in order to boost innovation by providing a strong financial motive. The response from the country?s research community was immediate and very encouraging, as over 300 proposals were sent in by university teams, research centers and foundations, business innovation groups and individual researchers working on applications in areas such as renewable energy sources (RES), environmental technology, medical and pharmaceutical goods and supplies and building materials among others.

The work of the competition?s panel, comprising 11 distinguished Greek scientists, is focused on the international potential of the projects, their commercial potential and also their contribution to Greek competitiveness. The list has now been narrowed down to 21 entries that are in the running for the four grand prizes: cash awards of 15,000 and 8,000 euros for two entries in the area of applied research and another two in innovation.

The choice was difficult.

Alexander Astaras, a postdoctorate researcher at the AUTH, in collaboration with the Laboratory of Medical Informatics, designed a ?smart? device to be used in physical therapy, ?which can be programmed to help injured people perform exercises that they are physically unable to do,? he told Kathimerini. The device also has significant commercial potential as it can be used for regular workouts as well.

Nikolaos Michalodimitriakis, a physicist and electronic engineer, has also developed a smart system for the self-regulation of elevator inverters, which reads the elevator?s operations and prevents problems in its operation.

An innovative filter for drinking water, which removes traces of sulfur chlorides, ammonia, iron and manganese, was developed by Dimitris Vayenas at the University of Ioannina. ?It is a biological method of cleaning drinking water and it costs the consumer nothing,? he told Kathimerini. ?The system has already been in operation for three years in a village on the border between Achaia and Ilia [in the Peloponnese], while researchers in poor countries like Pakistan, Bolivia and Egypt have also expressed an interest in it.?

From photocatalytic materials to combat sick building syndrome (Foundation for Research and Technology, Crete) to new-generation stents that do away with the complications of surgery (Patra University) and the development of second-generation biofuels from used frying oil (the Center for Research