The LINX Project

“The LINX Project” is sponsored with a 50 million DKK investment by the Danish Innovation Fund (IFD) over a funding period of 5 years (2016-2021). With such a central and close position to the three-large-scale radiation research facilities MAX IV and ESS in Lund and the European XFEL in Hamburg, the IFD wished to sponsor a strong link between materials research and its application in industry.

The LINX project ensures and encourage the growth opportunities for Danish industry companies to be the forefront of the commercialization of advanced materials and pharmaceutical/biotechnological applications.

The project focus areas

The research topics of the LINX projects changes over time, as new companies enter, as techniques develop, and as the industrial partners become better acquainted with the techniques. To facilitate such a dynamic approach without losing focus, LINX projects operates with medium-term focus areas, defined by the College of industrial partners.

The initial focus areas from 2016 are:

  • Colloids materials
  • Drug discovery, protein based pharmaceuticals & protein engineering
  • Sorption of liquids and humidity
  • Fibre structure and dynamics
  • Materials at operating and processing conditions
  • Quality assurance

Each Focus Area comprises a set of concrete materials problems for the industries. In Phase 1, there is a total of 13 projects (see Table 1).

Focus Area Number of projects University Partners Industry Partners
Colloid materials 2 KU Novo Nordisk, BioModics
Sorption of liquids and humidity 3 AU, DTU, KU Grundfos, VELUX, Rockwool, LM Wind Power
Fiber structure and dynamics 3 DTU Novozymes, Rockwool, Xnovo technology, Grundfos
Materials at operating and processing conditions 4 AU, DTU Tetra Pak, VELUX, Frichs, TEGnology, Grundfos, Novo Nordisk
Quality Assurance 1 DTU Exruptive, Xnovo technology, LM Wind Power

Table 1: LINX focus projects in Phase 1.

LINX Project Partners

The LINX project partners who received the assigned IFD funding after winning the application for the original the LINX Project consists of 12 different industrial company (both in interests and size), 3 Danish universities (University of Copenhagen (KU), Aarhus University (AU) and Technical University of Denmark (DTU)), 2 regional governmental partners and the Confederation of Danish Industries (DI). The LINX Project partners are also members of the LINX Association.

LINX project structure

The governing principle of LINX projects are industry pull. Each focus project will have an identical budget structure:

  1. 1/3 is for internal activities (in-kind delivered as manpower or other direct project costs),
  2. 1/3 is dedicated for large-facility beam time as needed and
  3. 1/3 is anticipated Contract Research (CR) to be commissioned at the universities for confidential activities.

The first 2/3 is covered by 50% by the grant, while CR is paid 100% by the company. Of these, only the 1/3 on internal activities is a mandatory project contribution. It is reimbursed by 50 % of the Innovation Fond Denmark (IFD). The entries 2 and 3 (facility beam-time and CR, resp.) are both optional expenses which may be held at the discretion of the given IPP depending on the development of the internal activities. Within this frame, any purchase of beam-time will be reimbursed by 50 % of the IFD.

Contract research (CR) projects

Associated with the Focus Areas are also industry­-university contract research (CR) projects where neutrons and X‐rays are used for confidential research. In these projects, the industry will own the intellectual property rights (IPR) for any results that might arise from the project.

The impact of LINX will be evaluated based on the combined results. In addition, the Focus Areas comprise activities that aim to introduce and mature neutron and X‐ray methods in the field, inspire the next generation of materials design engineers and scientists and enhance industry‐university collaboration.

Outreach projects

An important fraction of the LINX resources is reserved for two types of outreach activities: 1) Advice to and tests for potential new LINX members and 2) Dissemination and raising general awareness of the potential benefits of using neutron and X-ray techniques.

  1. Advice to and tests for new Members: As industries typically need to acquaint themselves with new tools before committing to commercial contract research, LINX Association operates with Partners and Members. It is the aim that a fraction of the Members over time will become Partners in LINX Projects, perform proprietary research or in other ways collaborate with the LINX Association by means of external funding.

Based on the successful models developed in the context of the previous pilot portals (such as the NXUS project at KU or the Vækstmotor Project at DTU), LINX will provide members an individual discussion on materials problems and potential problem solving, possibly followed by a test experiment to prove feasibility and document concrete impact on industrial challenges. While tests at the home laboratories are generally available, budget dictates that only selected Members will be able to benefit from test experiments at synchrotrons and neutron sources. LINX will also provide advice on proposal writing for beam time at large scale facilities, training and other relevant matters.

  1. Dissemination: Raising awareness of the potential of using neutron and X-ray techniques is a central issue in general, in particular towards small and medium-sized enterprises (SME’s). Such awareness activities are handled by the LINX newsletters, participation in fairs and meetings, a press strategy and the current homepage.

Additionally, the dissemination/marketing is performed in collaboration with the branches of the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI) (which have 10.000 members), with professional societies, and last – but not least – via interaction with the Regions, which also have a widespread network

The LINX Outreach model

Project governance

Before the onset and kick-off of a new project, a focus project agreement (FPA) has to be signed by all partners in the project to avoid unclarity concerning intellectual property rights (IPR) issues for foreground results that might arise from the project.

Based on the timelines and milestones defined in the FPA, a governance model is developed and a common operational structure around progress reporting and transparency is established. The internal framework for project governance and transparency in the project portfolio management consists of weekly Skype-meetings, a monthly written status report for all activities in the project portfolio and a common project calendar in the Asana software package. The output from the project portfolio serve as input to a detailed Gantt diagram for all milestones and project-related activities to document and provide regular updates to the LINX board and annual reports to the Innovation Fond Denmark (IFD).