Project Description

“FLEXPOL” project is a 36 months innovation action divided into eight work packages. Its lean organisational structure enables a balanced definition of responsibilities and an efficient project management.

Work packages 1 to 5 are dedicated to scientific and technical development of the proposed materials, production systems and antimicrobial film products.

Work packages 6 to 8 are of general purpose and complement the other work packages in terms of regulations and results’ documentation (WP6), dissemination, exploitation and intellectual property rights (WP7) as well as project coordination and reporting (WP8).

The overall objective of work package 1 is to perform the selection of the most adequate systems for encapsulation of essential oils (EOs) to be used in the antimicrobial coatings for target bacteria by developing suitable, scalable, cost effective methods to extract high value chemicals from essential oils and introduce them in a suitable matrix with encapsulating performance. This work package is relevant to the development of FLEXPOL project since it will permit to evolve from the raw materials (i.e. essential oils obtained from natural sources) to films with antimicrobial properties and ready for scaling-up in WP4.

Work package 2 is included to elaborate strategies to create antimicrobial and partially fungicidal behaviour based on topography. Hierarchical superhydrophobic surfaces inhibiting the bacteria adhesion and providing water scarcity in its microenvironment as well as hierarchical structures
with nanospikes. The structures will provide inhibition to attach as well as the death of those bacteria able to bind. First surfaces will be fabricated in silicon and its efficacy will be evaluated invitro (WP3). Further, surfaces will be replicated on nickel stamps and these masters used to produce topography-based PP films with antimicrobial behaviour (evaluated under WP3). These surfaces combined with materials emerging from WP1 will lead to antimicrobial and fungicidal surfaces.

The effective characterization contributes significantly to assuring that FLEXPOL films fit their intended use. The main objective of work package 3 is to establish scientific evidence that safety, efficacy and quality are designed/ built into FLEXPOL films during the product development phase. To successfully accomplish this, antimicrobial activity, cytotoxicity, mechanical properties, resistance of the films to contamination, potential development of antimicrobial resistance, durability and cleaning will be investigated within the work package. Through this concerted action the performance and technical specifications of the films will be established. The extensive evaluation is performed is iterative collaboration with the activities in WP 1,2,4 and 5. Tests will take place under laboratory conditions.

Within the work package 4 the FLEXPOL pilot production is scaled up for prove of industrial competitiveness regarding materials and production equipment. The raw materials will be formed to PP-films of 100 μm thickness by blow extrusion process. Nanofeatures are imprinted onto the films with encapsulated essential oils by thermal nano-imprint lithography. The imprint process is a continuous roll-to-roll process. Hard mold Ni-sleeves with nanofeatures are provided by partners ICN and TKN (WP2). The antimicrobial film will be produced at higher quantities (≥ 1.000 m²) to demonstrate feasibility of an industrial scale production. For easy application to target surfaces in hospital a pressure sensitive adhesive tape will be laminated onto the backside of the film.

Work package 5 will give results in the real setting of a hospital and a nursing house of the possible utility of FLEXPOL in reducing microorganism load on surfaces as well as its durability under standard cleaning procedures. The bacterial load on surfaces of patients’ rooms and of common visitors’ areas is measured. The difference in the bacterial load between surfaces covered
with FLEXPOL films and uncovered surfaces will reflect the antibacterial activity.. The potential role of FLEXPOL in preventing hospital transmission of bacteria, the compatibility of the film with different agents used for surface cleaning and the possible cost saves in cleaning products are demonstrated.

Work package 6 is related to the compilation of technical documentations. I will contribute design requirements and specifications, verification and validation activities, risk assessment, implementation, and other documentation needed to demonstrate conformity to the required
essential principles of safety and performance for future regulatory submission. Main outcome will be a database of technical data, information and documentation for full traceability to meet regulatory and quality assurance. A documentation package for commercialization including
Technical Data Sheet (TDS), Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and an Application Guide for FLEXPOL films will be provided.

Target of work package 7 is to coordinate the dissemination of project results to targeted audiences, with the use of adequate sets of media. Moreover the strategy for the protection of project results, through adequate securing of the intellectual property rights will be set up. Essential outcome will be a road-to-market strategy for the antimicrobial FLEXPOL film and business models for each project partner to participate in the commercialisation of the products or commonly developed technologies.

Content of work package 8 is to coordinate the efforts of the consortium ensuring the progress of the project according to the work plan and covering administrative, legal, financial and ethics issues. This includes the coordination of project activities (e.g. periodic conference calls to monitor and evaluate work progress), management of funding finances according to the EC rules,
organization of meetings, report to the European Commission and management of the project’s information system and management of documents and information exchange.