Helping enterprises that hold the key to a sustainable world

Have you ever heard of Boyan Slat? At the age of 18, he founded The Ocean Cleanup, an environmental enterprise developing and scaling technologies to rid the oceans of plastic. Environmental entrepreneurs such as Slat and their eco-innovations are the cornerstone of the transition to a more sustainable world. But how can we help them make a bigger impact? That's what Georgios Outsios is determined to find out.

Enemies with benefits: positive effects of mistletoes

When you think of mistletoe, you probably think of the Christmas kissing tradition and ancient druids, while the word parasite may not come to mind. Yet mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows on the branches of numerous tree species, from which it draws water and nutrients. This can lead to serious damage to this host tree. Still, we should not hastily remove mistletoe from these trees, says Luiza Teixeira-Costa. Watch her explain the positive side of this 'enemy with benefits'. 

What does the liver think of artificial feeding?

Artificial feeding, such as parenteral nutrition -food that is injected directly into the bloodstream- is crucial for critically ill patients. It keeps them alive, but unfortunately, it can cause significant liver damage in the long run. To prevent liver injury, Milos Mihajlovic and his colleagues are developing an advanced human liver model in a dish to better understand how food injection leads to liver damage.
Carlos Leonidas

How do wildfires affect your health?

In the last decade, wildfires peaked at record numbers in different countries across the world. These fires destroy houses and burn down forests, but they also have other important 'unseen' effects. "Smoke from wildfires leads to high air pollution, which is associated with short and long-term risks, such as respiratory and cardiac diseases", as Leonidas Leiva explains. He's working on new materials to recognize, capture and neutralize these contaminants.

3D-printed concrete can be strong and energy-efficient

Did you know that we can build bridges out of concrete with a 3D printer? Yet, this promising technology still faces challenges before it can reach its full potential and be widely used in construction. VUB researcher Yanjuan Chen explains what these challenges are and how she's working to help overcome them.
KU Leuven

Predicting survival time with incomplete data

How long will a patient live after his or her cancer diagnosis? And how long will a marriage between a new couple last? To make predictions of this so-called 'survival time', the time until an event occurs, researchers use statistical methods to analyze lifetime data. But what if you have incomplete data? Can you still make accurate predictions? That's what Worku Ewnetu is working on. Watch the video to find out more.

What is 'home' to older adults with a migration background?

Our ageing population is not only growing but is also becoming more diverse. Labour migrants who came to Belgium last century are part of today's ageing population. Most older adults prefer to live at home for as long as possible, but what is 'home' to older adults with a migration background? To explore this, PhD researcher Micheline Phlix conducted 45 interviews with older migrants.

A smart planner for home care

Home and family care workers go out on the road every day to help their clients. That busy round is often a complex puzzle, where they have to take into account distances, personal preferences but also, e.g., medication times. To help them with this, Ruben Vanbosseghem and his colleagues are using AI to develop a smart home care planner.

Flammable hydrogen: where best to place our detectors?

Hydrogen can play a key role in making our energy supply more sustainable. One problem though: hydrogen is highly flammable. So how do we store hydrogen safely? Joren Vanlaere is working on a solution to detect possible leaks at lightning speed.

Loneliness among seniors

"Loneliness, that's just part of getting older, right?" This perception prevails in our society. Sociologist Haike Delafontaine wants to help dispel myths and stereotypes surrounding loneliness among seniors, thus lowering the threshold for talking about it. This is necessary, because did you know that loneliness increases the risk of dying prematurely by as much as 26%?

Making information about our personal data accessible for all

"Several people with visual impairments use screen readers, which means that if an app or a website is not built with accessibility in mind, some information may not be noticeable to them at all."
Through her research, Olga Gkotsopoulou (VUB) wants to raise awareness and help organizations make information about our personal data accessible to the widest audience possible. 

Empowering individuals by making personal data breaches transparent

A personal data breach is not to be taken lightly: it can lead to depression, divorce, and even death. Seems far-fetched? Not really, as the data breach of a Canadian adultery website showed in 2015. Lina Jasmontaite (VUB) researches how companies (should) handle data breaches in Europe, since the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).