KEEPER: nanomaterial-based key code to protect services and products

The first system to combine unique identification code with virtually infinite number of combinations to certify the product authenticity

Today, counterfeit products seriously affect the global economy and can have a negative impact on safety, health and the environment due to the lower quality of their components. The severity of the problem is estimated to reach 3 billion US dollars by 2022, causing EU companies to lose 121 billion euros in sales and over 671,000 jobs.

KEEPER is a project aiming to provide a new technological solution to this challenge: it is the first system ever to combine a unique identification code with a virtually infinite number of combinations (over 1024) to certify the product authenticity and an unprecedented level of security, ease of use and cost-effectiveness.

It is an innovative customisable solution based on two main resources: nano-engineered inks to be applied on documents or product packaging as adhesive tags or printed directly at specific points (3Tag), and a highly selective verification technique using a dedicated reader (3Check). The specificity of the inks, the coding sequence and the reading method make this technology extremely difficult or almost impossible to replicate through reverse engineering processes.

The KEEPER project, to which university and private partners from Italy, Poland and Austria are contributing, was recently funded with more than 2 million euros by the European Innovation Council (EIC) within the framework of the ‘EIC Transition’ call for proposals, which aims to support the improvement and the laboratory validation of new technologies developed within the framework of European subsidised projects and their introduction onto the market. 

The European Innovation Council is Europe’s flagship programme for technological innovation. This is the first time that a project presented by Politecnico di Milano as a lead partner has accessed this type of support; overall, this EIC Transition call has funded 34 projects across Europe, of which six in Italy and only three with a university as coordinator,

Professor Carlo S. Casari, Department of Energy of Politecnico di Milano, head of KEEPER and former holder of the ERC Consolidator Grant EspLORE, the ERC Proof of Concept Grants PROTECHT and PYPAINT.