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When Portugal's oldest university was founded in Coimbra in 1290, it took almost another 100 years for Heidelberg to become the first university on German soil. And even today, the venerable Universidade de Coimbra (UC) still holds a lead over many a younger institute. According to the recently published edition of the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2022, the UC is the most sustainable institution in Portugal. The ranking, based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SGD), also ranks UC as the fourth best university in the world in the "Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure" category. This specifically values UC's role in fostering innovation and meeting the needs of industry. Other metrics the UC could peddle well: the number of university spin-offs since 2000: 113 - or the UC's ability to generate new research revenue from industry and business: about 55 million euros. Why is all this interesting? Because the Universidade de Coimbra and its "start-up catalyst" UC Business are representatives of the partner country Portugal at this year's HANNOVER MESSE.

Of course, in addition to all the impressive figures, they'll also have one or two tangible exhibits in their luggage, such as an intelligent, robot-based system for additive manufacturing. The multi-robot system is a solution developed for additive manufacturing of metals using direct energy deposition (DED) technology. Basically, the system is based on the idea of printing a designed part directly from the CAD station, with the entire underlying process being fully automated. The strategy includes real-time simulation capabilities, adds mixed reality for the user-machine interface, and explores the concept of digital twins. The design itself relies on cloud-based distributed programming, robot code generation and TCP/IP connections to allow the system to incorporate new functions.

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