Archive for May, 2014

Revolutionary back pain treatment receives investment

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University of Manchester spin-out company, Gelexir Healthcare Ltd (Gelexir), the creator of a revolutionary non-surgical procedure for the treatment of Chronic Lower Back Pain, has secured a total £353,102 investment from The University of Manchester, The North West Fund for Biomedical (NWF4B) managed by SPARK Impact, Central Manchester Foundation Trust (CMFT) and Business Angels.

The company, which was founded on the back of discoveries and developments made at the University over the past 10 years will use the financial backing from investors to continue its program of advanced clinical trials scheduled to take place towards the end of 2015.

Commenting on the receipt of the funding, Gelexir CEO Dr Philippe Jenny said:

“This funding is a great step forward as it provides the resources to transfer the discovery from the bench to the industrial world and pushes the technology through the demanding validation tests, heading towards the first patient.”

Gelexir provides an innovative and cost-effective treatment for Chronic Lower Back Pain caused by Degenerative Disc Disease. The process addresses the condition at an early stage and involves the injection of polymer microgels that restore the disc’s shock absorptive properties and replicate the bio-mechanical properties of a healthy intervertebral disc.

Dr Jenny added: “It has the potential to offer an alternative to spinal fusion techniques, which require invasive surgery and significant recovery times. This will be a great step forward in providing an improved treatment and faster recovery for patients.”

Professor Tony Freemont, Head of Manchester Medical School, and Gelexir Board Member hailed the treatment’s potential significance for back pain sufferers:

“There is a real need for a simple, safe, easily administered treatment for back pain that is refractory to simple drug and physiotherapy, but does not necessitate major spine surgery. This funding will allow Gelexir to get closer to taking its product, which at its current state of development appears to fulfil all these criteria, closer to clinical trials.”

The cash injection will provide the means for Gelexir to continue laboratory-based development and trials – with testing scheduled to commence with the help of patients in the latter half of 2015.

UMIP, the University’s agent for intellectual property (IP) commercialisation, has provided IP and business development expertise and also early-stage Proof-of-Principle funding and seed corn funding from its UMIP’s Premier Fund. Translational funding has also been provided by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The North West Fund for Biomedical is a sub-fund of The North West Fund, a substantial pot of money jointly financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the European Investment Bank.

www.gelexir-healthcare.co.uk

Academic Health Science Centres, Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst and MIMIT join forces to tackle Open Innovation Challenge in Neurodegenerative Disease

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The Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC) Technology Transfer Organisations in England have joined forces with Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst and Manchester: Integrating Medicine and Innovative Technology (MIMIT) to address unmet healthcare need priorities in neurodegenerative disease. The collaboration involves Cambridge Enterprise, Imperial Innovations Ltd, King’s College London, UCL Business PLC and The University of Manchester Intellectual Property (UMIP) (working with TRUSTECH the NHS Innovation service provider) and will now be joined by Isis Innovation Ltd, the technology transfer organisation for the Oxford University, a member of the most recent AHSC, working closely together with their parent AHSC’s, to scope, validate, prioritise and seek solutions to unmet health care needs.

The Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC) and MIMIT will use an open innovation approach, encouraging collaboration to address some of the many challenges in relation to neuro-degenerative disorders. The two main research themes selected include biomarkers used for diagnosis and stratification; and the role of inflammation in neurodegenerative disorders.

Previous highly successful initiatives arising from this exciting joint AHSC collaboration with MIMIT were funded jointly between the Technology Transfer Organisations (listed above) and the National Innovation Centre. They have included an initial project on Hospital Acquired Infection and a second project on unmet healthcare needs in relation to enhancing functional independence, supported by Arthritis Research UK. This approach has engaged patients and carers in the process of defining unmet healthcare needs.

Allan Baxter, Chairman of SBC said: “We are delighted to be a part of this exciting network, a real example of Open Innovation with a focus on neurodegenerative disease, an area of such enormous unmet clinical need; we are looking forward to progressing this specific project with the Academic Health Science Centres and MIMIT and to obtaining tangible outcomes that we can help translate into commercial reality and patient benefit, with the help of SBC’s extensive community of experts.”

The longer-term aspiration of the initiative is to accelerate and enhance the quality of innovative technology solutions for healthcare via the AHSC Technology Transfer Organisations that are linked to the wider NHS, Department of Health priorities and the Growth Team Agenda.

‘The AHSCs and MIMIT have approached innovation in the most effective way – by looking at what the NHS needs as opposed to what innovations are available. The NHS is surrounded by a wealth of available technology – the skill lies in selecting or developing that technology to address the specific challenges facing the NHS.’ Former Director, National Innovation Centre.

To register for more information and apply log on to the colab portal here. The deadline for initial applications is midnight on Friday 4th July 2014.

For further information and any interest in joining the collaboration and pooled funding initiatives please contact Professor Jackie Oldham, Director of MIMIT (jackie.oldham@manchester.ac.uk)

For further information on SBC, contact Miranda Knaggs, Marketing and Sales Manager, miranda.knaggs@stevenagecatalyst.com or Dr Beverley Vaughan, Executive Liaison, beverley.vaughan@stevenagecatlayst.com.

UMI3 Ltd Partner with Isle of Man Government to help fund Biomedical Spin-Outs

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UMI3 Ltd, the innovation company of The University of Manchester and the University’s Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, have announced that they will work collaboratively with the Isle of Man’s Department of Economic Development to attract business angel investment finance into its early stage biomedical spin-out companies.

The collaboration will involve twice yearly network events on the Island when a selection of the University’s biomedical spin-out companies and enterprising academics will present to an invited audience of high net wealth private investors. It is anticipated that one of the events annually will be a satellite to the successful Manx Biomed conference which was launched in December 2013.

Dr Rich Ferrie, Director of Operations of UMIP, UMI3’s intellectual property division, commented: “We are very excited by this initiative which looks to broaden the investment opportunities for our biomedical spin-out companies and strengthen our ties with the developing biomedical cluster on the Island. We look forward to working closely with Courtenay Heading and his colleagues to make a success of this collaboration for mutual benefit with a view to rolling it out to other sectors as appropriate.”

Courtenay Heading, Biomed, Inward Investment Consultant to the Isle of Man Government commented: “I’m delighted to be working with UMI3 and UMIP which has a proven track record with creating new spin-out companies from The University of Manchester’s world class research.  As near neighbours this initiative builds on trusted relationships between our people. With existing data hosting and precision manufacture sectors we offer complementary skills to the biomed market.  With an accessible Government we’re also capable of writing our own legislation, to support such an important initiative to improve patient health and create local jobs.”

Minister John Shimmin, Isle of Man Government, for the Department of Economic Development commented:  “The Isle of Man has established itself as one of the most successful small international business centres in the world.  We have done so by creating an environment where businesses can access the capital and the professional services expertise they need to flourish on a global scale.  My Department fully supports this initiative with UMI3.”

To complement the funding initiative, the University and Biomed will be working strategically on a number of research themes. Professor Paul Townsend, Associate Dean for Business Engagement & Theme Lead for Personalised Therapy at the University’s Faculty Institute for Cancer Sciences, commented: “This is an opportune time for all of us in the region to synergise and strive forward in harnessing relationships of biomedical need, with mutual investment benefit and critically, patient benefit. The Isle of Man has a stellar track record in precision engineering; combined with our spin outs and enterprising scientists and clinicians one can only see a very bright future.”

Versarien completes graphene start-up purchase

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The University of Manchester is pleased to announce that the acquisition, by Versarien plc, of 85% of the shares in its graphene subsidiary, 2-DTech Limited, has today completed.

Start-up company 2-DTech offers a wide range of graphene services, from materials supply and characterisation work, through to consulting and proof-of-principle work on applications and processes.

It also has a proprietary interest in a number of projects including an environmentally-friendly method of producing high quality graphene sheets, which is a collaboration between the University, 2-DTech and Ulster University and is currently being scaled up.

The deal is a further step in creating Graphene City ® in Manchester, where the National Graphene Institute is set to open in less than a year’s time and where 150 academic scientists and engineers are currently working on graphene at the University.

Versarien will also set up an intellectual property and research collaboration with the University, initially investing some £300,000 in two projects, which will add to its own and to 2-DTech’s product range, in areas such as graphene composites.

Branson Belle, CTO of 2-DTech, welcomes the deal, saying: “We are very excited by this partnership. Versarien brings real-life experience in process scale-up and manufacturing to complement 2-DTech’s understanding of the nature and quality threshold requirements for various applications of graphene, which is a rare skill set. This will accelerate 2-DTech’s business success.”

Clive Rowland, CEO of the University’s Innovation Group (UMI3) said: “Our general model for technology transfer is to involve industrial participants as soon as we have developed a business proposition and gained some market recognition, in order to bring in relevant domain knowledge and marketing expertise, whether we do so through research collaborations, licensing, and/or start-up companies.  This tailors our deal flow to the market and leads to quicker uptake by firms. Therefore I am delighted that we have been able to agree this arrangement with Versarien which takes 2-DTech to a new level and allows the University to share in the future success of the business by remaining a shareholder and also receiving a royalty on sales.

Given the origin and location of 2-DTech in Manchester, the home of graphene, it places the company at the heart of the developing landscape for graphene applications. The scope for  opportunities for 2-DTech, in its new relationship with a forward thinking British engineering company like Versarien, offers the business potential to make a real mark in both graphene production and products and in other ‘two dimensional’ materials too.”

Mike Emmerich, CEO of New Economy Manchester said: “It is very pleasing to see that 2-DTech will remain a Manchester-based company and be enhanced by the contribution that Versarien will make to its business growth. Manchester is a very business-friendly city and is committed to seeing it become the world’s leading cluster for graphene science, engineering and business. I am sure that 2-DTech has a successful future here.”

Dr Belle is available for interview on request.

More information on graphene is available from www.graphene.manchester.ac.uk

For media enquiries please contact:

Daniel Cochlin
Graphene Communications and Marketing Manager
The University of Manchester
0161 275 8382
07917 506158
www.graphene.manchester.ac.uk
www.manchester.ac.uk
Twitter: @UoMGraphene

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