Ljubljana — Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nejc Hodnik, researcher at The National Institute of Chemistry and the leader of the Laboratory for Electrocatalysis received the ERC Proof of Concept Grant 2020 with the project “StableCat – Assessing the Technical and Business Feasibility of Highly-active and Stable Intermetallic Pt-alloy Catalysts for Application in PEMFCs”.
The purpose of the project is to make the first steps towards the commercialisation of new method of producing catalysts for hydrogen fuel cells.
The newly acquired »StableCat« project originates from the results of the ongoing »123STABLE« ERC project for researchers at the start of their independent careers (ERC Starting Grant). Last year, the group from the National Institute of Chemistry, with the important contribution of Dr. Matija Gatalo has filed a patent application for a new method of producing catalysts for hydrogen fuel cells. The project plans to further develop the new catalyst production and demonstrate their product in the real fuel cell environment. The team will also set up a Spin-out company and begin with development of the business plan, early commercialization strategy as well as perform further fundraising to set up a pilot production. The project will take place for 18 months and will also include participation of Tomaž Bizjak, a technology transfer expert.
ERC Proof of Concept (PoC) grant is awarded by the European Research Council with a view to finance the initial phases of the transfer of fundamental scientific discoveries into use. The ERC PoC project, which can only be acquired by researchers who already have an ERC research project, promotes the transfer of scientific knowledge to elements with a market or social value. The project funds are used by the scientists to finance development, patent protection, market analysis, connection with potential partners, and the initial degree of commercialisation or transfer of fundamental scientific discoveries to wider use.
Hodnik’s ERC Proof of Concept project is the only Slovenian project that has convinced the reviewers of the European Research Council in this call. 205 applications were received for this call and only 55 were accepted for funding. Application of dr. Nejc Hodnik was ranked in the high 9th place. This is already the second ERC Proof of Concept project for The National Institute of Chemistry, the first of which was received last year by Prof. Dr. Roman Jerala.