Skip to main content

Giovanni Volpe receives ERC Proof of Concept Grant


The physicist Giovanni Volpe at the University of Gothenburg has received just over SEK 1.5 million from the European Research Council (ERC) to commercialise his research project LUCERO. The project has developed a method to easily and inexpensively analyse cells using artificial intelligence and optical tweezers.

The recipients have been chosen for the ERC Proof of Concept Grants for first round of the 2020 call for applications. The grants of EUR 150,000 give researchers who have already received grants from ERC the opportunity to continue to develop their research results.

A total of 55 researchers from 17 countries were awarded grants. Three of these researchers are active in Sweden. One is Giovanni Volpe at the University of Gothenburg with the project LUCERO: Smart Optofluidic Micromanipulation of Biological Samples.

“In the project we have developed a method where we use AI and optical tweezers to analyse individual cells in solutions without destroying the cells,” says Giovanni Volpe, from the Department of Physics.
Currently used techniques have many limitations, according to Volpe. They require access to large amounts of cells and require an extremely high level of expertise. The methods are also very work intensive and, in some cases, destroy the cells.

Simplifies analyses

The new method developed in LUCERO simplifies the analysis work.

“Normal standard microscopes, which are already used in biomedical laboratories, can be used, and this drastically reduces the costs for biomedical research.”

Volpe also feels that there is a large commercial market.

“The analysis method can be used within a range of fields, such as artificial insemination and forensic medicine. This is actually an ideal time to develop the method commercially since the market is valued at USD 1.4 billion globally and is expected to continue growing by more than 17% annually.”

He estimates that LUCERO will result in about 20 jobs for university-educated experts and researchers within the EU within the coming five years.

LUCERO has already received initial funding and support from two different organisations that support the initiative. Two doctoral students, Falko Schmidt and Martin B. Mojica, are also involved in the LUCERO start-up company.

Read more about ERC Proof of Concept Grants>>

Giovanni Volpe, professor at the Department of Physics, University of Gothenburg, +46-(0)31-786 91 37, +46-(0)766-22 91 37,
Photo: Giovanni Volpe, photo GU.