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18/11/2016 - 08:45

Received the Applied Science Prize for anti-inflammatory substance


A new substance processed from marine organisms that significantly inhibits inflammation received this year UI Applied Science Prize.  Two other projects were rewarded. One is developing interactive exhibitions on elves and other mythical creatures, and the other on interactive work environment with a view to simplifying and facilitating collaboration on software development. The prize money is a total of 3.5 million ISK.

This was the 19th time that the prize was presented. The aim of the prize is to bring out utilizable ideas from students and staff at the University of Iceland and affiliated institutes. Diverse projects from different fields of study have in recent years received a prize and this year is no exception. 

A total of 19 ideas were entered into the competition from most of the University's schools. The choice of the award-winning projects was in the hands of a special selection committee, which considered, among other factors, how quickly the proposal could be realised. Other factors considered were whether the proposal was in sync with the University’s policies and operations, its originality, and how beneficial it would be for Icelandic society.

First prize in the amount of two million Icelandic krona went to the project on a substance originated from marine organisms that inhibit inflammation. Jóna Freysdóttir, Professor at the Faculty of Medicine, leads the project but her collaborators are; Ingibjörg Harðardóttir, Professor at the Faculty of Medicine, Sesselja Ómarsdóttir, Professor at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Xiaxia Di, doctoral student at the same faculty, and Jón Þórir Óskarson, master student at the Faculty of Medicine. 

The team has succeeded, after years of research and good collaboration, in isolating pure matter from a marine organism that has a great anti-inflammatory effect. Researchers are constantly trying to find new ways to inhibit inflammation and the progression of inflammatory diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and Alzheimers. Most anti-inflammatory medicine currently on the market has an extensive impact on the immune system as well as having various side effects. The matter isolated by the team has not been described before and seems especially effective in inhibiting inflammation.  

The selection committee considers this project to be an excellent example of the outstanding research activity within the University of Iceland, and the possibilities created when accomplished research scientists combine their knowledge and work together towards clear goals. It is highly probable that the results of this project will be beneficial to society as a whole.

The second price in the amount of one million ISK went to the project "The hidden world - interactive experience exhibition on elves and other mythical creatures." The founders of the company Jaðarmiðlun are behind the project; Ólöf Magnúsdóttir, Svanhvít Tryggvadóttir, Sólrún Ingvadóttir and Kristín Mjöll Jakobsdóttir. They are all master students in applied studies in culture and communication at the University of Iceland's Faculty of History and Philosophy, with backgrounds in ethnology, sociology and music. 

The folkloric content for the augmented reality technology will be developed through academic research work. The main goal is to create a world where people can experience the magic of Icelandic folktales that have lived in oral tradition for centuries and can be found in many Icelandic folktale collections. The organizers believe that by combining the latest technology and folktales to create a world where people can experience the magic of Icelandic folklore. 

The selection committee considers the project to be an exciting and magnificent example on how to combine practical ideas and good research conducted within the University of Iceland and communicate them in a novel fashion with modern technology. Furthermore, the project helps to preserve an interesting and valuable Icelandic cultural heritage. 

Third prize in the amount of 500.000 ISK was awarded to the assignment "Augmented Interaction Room (AugIR)". The project was sent in by Matthias Book, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Industrial Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Iceland, Volker Gruhn, Simon Grapenthin, Markus Kleffman and Erik Hebisch.

The project deals with simplifying and facilitating collaboration on software development. It can be challenging to foresee potential problems during the work process, and coordinate understanding among on the one hand those who use the software, and on the other hand the specialists that develop it. At the same time as support with software design is increasing with an implementation of the well-tried process the software itself becomes increasingly complicated. Problems are often only revealed in advanced stages of the development thus involving more costs and work than if they had been diagnosed earlier. The project involves designing a work-environment and a room with interactive whiteboards. Each has information connected to different aspects of the software. The boards are consequently all connected to one another and when changes are made in one area the effects show immediately in other aspects of the software. This enables designers to analyze problems and inconsistencies early in the process that otherwise, it would be easy to miss. 

The evaluation committee considered the project to have great potential and very relevant to the growing industry of software programming, in Iceland and abroad. The project is, furthermore, advanced, based on research and knowledge, the work is professional with a clearly defined progression. 

The UI Applied Science Prize is a collaboration of the University of Iceland, Árnason| Faktor, and Innovation Center Iceland, which additionally offers its specialist consultation to the winners as well as being on the evaluation committee.