At the start of 2023, we thought it’s a perfect time to revisit all things FuturoLEAF from 2022! This year saw us meet face to face, together as a full consortium, for the first time since the start of the project. It’s safe to say that the pandemic made working together more difficult than it was before, and with the travel restrictions finally lifted in 2022, it was nothing short of amazing to see the smiling faces of our FuturoLEAF colleagues in person. Our first meeting took place in Finland in April, when spring was quietly making its way through the typically long Nordic winter. During the meeting, we both celebrated our progress in the project and set sights for what was to be focused on next. Plans for research visits were made and within-consortium collaboration was strengthened. In botanical terms, one could say that the functional midrib was growing veins all across the blade of the FuturoLEAF, as we prepared to continue our scientific journey together.
The second full consortium meeting was carried out in Austria, in the beautiful city of Graz, that was at the time bathing in warm October sun. Just before the meeting, our project had reached its 24-month milestone. A lot of ground had been covered by then, but there was still research avenues to be touched within the realms of FuturoLEAF. During the meeting, we sharpened plans for the next steps in the project and continued active discussions between partners.
In addition to the full consortium meetings, we kept closely in touch via various technical meetings: The interdisciplinary nature of FuturoLEAF technology requires mobility of our scientists in the interfaces of biotechnology and biomaterial science. And mobile the FuturoLEAF researchers have indeed been – whether it was a routine commute between Helsinki and Turku along the southwest coast of Finland or a bigger tour across the FuturoLEAF capitals of Europe, our scientists have truly been “on the road again”. Finally, after the demanding years of COVID-19 pandemic, we were also able to give physical conference presentations and public talks again!
Apart from the higher frequency of seeing each other, we’ve been busy in the lab manufacturing solid-state cell factory scaffolds, photosynthetic production systems and developing the artificial leaf architectures for their future application. Plenty of research has been done with the photosynthetic producer cells and their functionalities, nanocellulose cell immobilization matrices and molecularly imprinted polymers alike. We eagerly await the next phases of the project where we put all our efforts together in various systems that utilize these FuturoLEAF technologies.
All in all, it has been a colorful year (at least when it comes to different shades of green), with loads of good discussions, curious research and, of course, hard work! Stay tuned for updates in year 2023!