But there are many other technology and R&D activities in Ukraine as well. Of course, this is not to say that software doesn’t play a central role in these activities as well.
My goal here is not to provide a comprehensive analysis of Ukrainian technology and R&D. Rather, I’d like to give a face to at least some of these activities. Because behind every one of these companies and research projects are humans who teamed up to create or to discover something. To do something positive, in other words. And currently, these humans are being attacked, on the orders of Putin’s heinous dictatorship.
(Yes, we are a technology company here at Mergeflow. But “technology” does not mean “indifferent” or “neutral”.)
First, I’ll talk about companies, then technology licensing and research projects.
Agrieye, based in Odessa, originally started out developing multispectral sensors. Now they combine remote sensing and analytics software for precision agriculture. Their technology can analyze water levels and precipitation, crop status, and create nitrogen phosphorus and potassium nutrition maps, for example. The screenshot below, from their website, shows the components of their technology:
Bicovery is a Kyiv-based startup company that develops real-time monitoring solutions for bipolar disorder patients. The idea is to use a combination of data, such as physical and social activity, to alert doctors and caregivers of upcoming crisis episodes.
I could not find more technical contents on their work, but here is a recent, topically related article from Frontiers in Physiology, a peer-reviewed journal:
BIOsens makes a portable mycotoxins detector. Mycotoxins are substances produced by certain types of moulds (fungi). These moulds grow on crops and food, such as cereals, coffee beans, or dried fruit. And the mycotoxins they produce can cause serious health damages, ranging from acute poisoning to more long-term effects.
Unlike traditional mycotoxin detectors, the device made by BIOsens does not require skilled technicians, and it delivers results within minutes, not days. The screenshot below shows how it works:
More Ukrainian health science companies
Like I said above, my goal here is not to be comprehensive. But if you’d like to know more about health science companies from Ukraine, you could read Bojan Stojkovski‘s article on Ukrainian med-tech startups, for example.
Technology licensing and public research funding
Technology licensing is when universities or other research institutions make R&D available for commercialization. Often, but not always, this takes place in the form of patents being sold. And “public research funding” refers to R&D projects that are government-funded (as opposed to, for example, funded by private companies).
New materials for increasing the energy efficiency of fuel cell membranes
NDI Foundation (“National Development and Innovation Foundation”) in Kyiv aims to connect (academic) R&D, businesses, and investors, across a number of tech sectors. One of their activities is technology licensing. Here is an example:
These fluorinated carbons can be used to make fuel cell and battery membranes more energy-efficient.
Ukrainian researchers also participate in numerous international publicly funded research projects. Here are some examples:
Cooling technologies for new types of aircraft engines
Some background first: The nacelle of an aircraft engine is basically the housing of the engine. It’s what you see when you look at an engine from the outside:
And in aircraft engines, the bypass ratio is the amount of air inside the nacelle that passes by the combustor (the combustor is the component of the engine where the combustion process happens) vs. the amount of air that passes through the combustor. And the higher the bypass ratio, the more efficient and quieter the engine. If you want to dig deeper on this topic, you can start by reading this article from MTU Aero Engines on high-bypass engines, for example.
With this explanation in mind, it’s probably clear why one would want to have ultra high bypass ratio (UHBR) engines: It’s about fuel efficiency and noise reduction. But one of the technical challenges that come with UHBR engines is that they get very hot. And that’s where the following EU-funded project comes in that involves the Kharkiv Aviation Institute:
The goal of the project is to develop technologies for UHBR engine thermal management.
Reducing nitrogen oxide emissions in aircraft engines
According to this article from EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency), “more fuel efficient engine cycles, often made possible through the use of new materials, has led to increasing pressures and temperature within the combustor. [And] this tends to increase the emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx).”
Remember the project above, where the goal is to improve engine thermal management. This project goes in a similar direction–except that the goal isn’t to reduce temperature but to deal with the consequences of increased temperature in modern engines (higher temperature -> higher NOx emissions). Specifically, the goal of this project is to develop electrochemical and electromagnetic methods for reducing NOx emissions:
Like the research project above, this one also involves the Kharkiv Aviation Institute.
Understanding multidrug resistance of tuberculosis
Despite substantial progress, Ukraine still is one of the countries with the highest tuberculosis rates in Europe (see this article from The Lancet, published days before Putin started the war). And drug-resistant or multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB or MDR-TB) play a big role there, according to the WHO.
In this context, an EU-funded research project…
New biomolecular electronics
Biomolecular electronics brings together electronic devices and biological materials. Applications include healthcare diagnostics and environmental monitoring, but also new forms of computing, such as DNA-based computing architectures.
…aims to use biological macromolecules (carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids) as sensors and signal transducers. Applications are in analytical biotechnology. One of the project partners is the Institute of Molecular Biology and Genetics in Kyiv.