Microfluidics is a recent multidisciplinary scientific field concerned with the study and manipulation of fluids in channels smaller than 1 mm. There is increasing demand for microfluidics from industry and research groups within VUB, Flanders and Europe, especially for fast-growing medical, pharmaceutical and biotechnical applications.
Glass is an essential material for the development of microfluidics applications because of its chemical stability, optical transparency, dielectric properties, electrophilic nature and compatibility with many coatings. However, microfabrication of glass requires advanced techniques that are currently not available in Belgium.
VUB is building a new cleanroom of 300 m² with 250 m² associated technical areas, which will be equipped with the most advanced technologies available in the market for etching glass and silicon for microfluidics. This microfabrication facility (MICROLAB) will help Flanders to maintain and further strengthen its position as one of the most important biotech hot-spots in the world, and home to many world-class pharmaceutical companies.
Moreover, MICROLAB will be run as an 'open access' facility, a unique concept in Belgium. Researchers and students from in- and outside VUB and Flanders, as well as small and large companies will be given access against payment of a usage fee. Users will also be trained to use the new technologies and machines in the cleanroom, knowledge that will enable them to accelerate innovation within their own working environment.
The construction of the cleanroom is financed by the VUB and can count on the support of the Flemish Government's recovery plan 'Vlaamse Veerkracht'. The cleanroom is expected to be operational by the end of 2022.
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Watch the recorded pitch session here