Top Marks and a £250K Investment for Manchester Invention

Written by UMIP on . Posted in News

An innovative piece of software that takes pressure off teachers by marking exam papers quicker and more efficiently than humans has secured a quarter-of-a-million pound funding.

University of Manchester spin-out company, Assessment21, has become the first to create a tool that can not only mark multi-choice answers but also open-ended responses. Until now many have tried and failed to create software that can do this. The product – ABC (Assess By Computer) – is seen as a major breakthrough for the education sector. UMIP (The University of Manchester’s IP commercialisation company) helped develop a management team and worked with the company to raise external funding.

South Yorkshire Investment Fund and three business angels have invested £250,000 to take the software to market ndash; specifically aiming at the higher education and professional associations markets.

The main advantages are that, compared to manually marking papers, the ABC software is quicker, more efficient and more consistent but still leaves the final judgments to humans. It allows students to remain anonymous to the marker, takes away the difficulties of reading illegible handwriting and the physical problems of handling bulky paper.

Assessment21 director Gerard Lennox said: “The product is a classic example of how to take cutting-edge research, apply commercial experience and a relatively small investment to create a viable company that satisfies a clearly identified market need.”

The technology handles all aspects of the assessment process, including setting exam questions, administration and marking. It has been used for four years at The University of Manchester on a wide variety of assessments including final year exams and course work.

Heather White, Senior Business Manager at UMIP, said “It’s very pleasing to see a truly innovative product which has already proved its worth in the University being taken to external markets by Assessment21, as the benefits of the software are very significant in terms of time savings and security.”

For information about Assessment21 contact Gerard Lennox 07973 218271
www.assessment21.com

Manchester Innovators make Breakthrough for Women

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A piece of software developed in Manchester that can detect osteoporosis by automatically reading routine dental X-rays has secured a deal that could see it help millions of women world-wide.

The technology, Osteodent, which is being commercialised by UMIP (The University of Manchester’s IP commercialisation company), has secured a deal with Swedish company Crebone AB for the rights to sell the software until 2010.

The software is designed to increase the detection rates of osteoporosis, which can be treated effectively if identified early. Currently, most women with osteoporosis don’t realise they have the condition until late in the disease when they suffer a bone fracture of the spine, hip or wrist. In the UK alone, there are an estimated 3.5million suitable dental X-ray examinations carried out each year.

The University of Manchester received a €1.4m EU grant in 2003 to conduct a study of 670 women’s X-rays in the UK, Sweden, Belgium and Greece. The results of the study, which have recently been published, show that Osteodent is the most accurate method for identifying individuals with osteoporosis using dental X-rays and clinical markers.

Since the results of the European study were announced there has been a high level of interest in the product. German dental company, KaVo, is currently undertaking an audit project using Osteodent software that is aimed at improving dentists diagnostic abilities.

Osteodent has been developed by The University of Manchester’s Dr Hugh Devlin, Dr Jim Graham, Dr Danny Allen and Professor Keith Horner. The initial idea was conceived 18 years ago. UMIP now has two patents on the software, one for North America and one for the rest of the world. Osteodent won the BioNow Healthcare Project of the Year 2007, sponsored by TrusTECH.

Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Imaging, Keith Horner said: “Currently it tends to be only ‘the worried well’ or those with well-informed GPs whose osteoporosis risk is properly assessed. Osteodent will open up the opportunity of being tested to millions of women who attend a dentist and would otherwise not be tested.

“We’re very excited about this product because we know it has enormous potential. As Osteodent works as part of a routine dental appointment it could have substantial benefits for our NHS financially. In countries with private healthcare systems, Osteodent could also be very lucrative to dentists.”

Professor Stuart C. White, Chair of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology at UCLA School of Dentistry in the USA commented: “Osteoporosis affects millions of aging men and women worldwide. Since a large fraction of adults seek dental care annually, Osteodent offers the opportunity to screen many individuals for early signs of osteoporosis. This is a truly exciting development.”

For more information contact Dr Stephen France at UMIP on 0161 606 7249.

Illuminating Research – A bright future ahead as Nanoco sign a distribution agreement with Sigma-Aldrich

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Nanoco Technologies Ltd, Manchester, UK 18 January 2008

Nanoco Technologies and Sigma-Aldrich are looking at a bright future together with the signing of a distribution agreement and launch of a new range of products based on Nanoco´s leading edge quantum dots.

The first materials available through this collaboration form the new Lumidotâ„¢ range of seven core-shell fluorescent quantum dots . Quantum dots (QDs) are nm-sized semiconductor nanoparticles that emit bright, near-monochromatic light (luminesce) under light or electrical stimulation. Emission color can be tuned by choosing nanocrystal size, making QDs ideal luminophors for cutting-edge applications including ultra-thin displays, solid-state lighting, anti-counterfeit protection, and next-generation solar cells. Nanoco developed unique manufacturing methods for making multi-gram quantities of QDs reproducibly and with precise control of size, structure, and luminescence characteristics. The new core-shell LumidotsTM distributed by Sigma-Aldrich have luminescence colors spanning the entire visible spectrum, in addition to good stability and batch-to-batch reproducibility, essential for research into high-technology applications.

The relationship makes the most of the core skills of both companies. Nanoco is unique in the Nanomaterials market as a company that manufactures large quantities of quantum dots. Sigma-Aldrich provide an excellent distribution channel as they are uniquely positioned to deliver smaller quantities of chemicals to commercial, academic and government labs around the world.

“This partnership is great for both companies and for global research”, said Michael Edelman, CEO of Nanoco Technologies, “It brings Nanoco´s manufacturing expertise together with the excellent distribution network operated by Sigma-Aldrich. We are excited to be working with them to extend the range of nanomaterials available to the worldwide research market. We plan to expand this collaboration by offering new ranges of quantum dots later in 2008 and beyond.”

“The new LumidotsTM are an important addition to our line of nanomaterials products, providing researchers around the world reliable access to high-quality quantum dot nanocrystals. Using these materials, scientists and engineers can focus on developing applications that take advantage of the unique properties of quantum dots. This fits with the main goal of Aldrich Materials Science ndash; we focus on materials so that our customers can focus on results,” said Dr. Ilya Koltover, Product Manager, Aldrich Materials Science.
Sigma-Aldrich will distribute research quantities (less than 1 g) of the quantum dots and the Lumidotâ„¢ range will be supplied as convenient 2 mL and 10 mL solutions in toluene, available to order from the Sigma-Aldrich website.

Nanoco will continue to offer larger quantities of quantum dots to partners who move beyond research to development of commercial QD applications.

About Nanoco (www.nanocotechnologies.com)
Nanoco is a nano-material science company that holds patents related to industrial-scale production of Quantum Dots. Quantum Dots are Fluorescent semi-conducting nanocrystals that can be used in a range of applications from biological imaging to next generation solar cells and displays. The University of Manchester spinout was founded in 2001 and works in partnership with technology driven corporations to bring quantum dot based applications to the market around the world.

Nanoco Technologies present a flagship example of the UK’s ability to transform world-class research into cutting edge business

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Nanoco Technologies is unique in the nanomaterials market as a company that manufacture large quantities of quantum dots and partner major R&D and blue-chip industrial organisations in the development of quantum dot applications. A flagship example of the UK’s ability to transform world-class research into cutting edge business, as recognized by the government organisation, UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) who asked Nanoco Technologies’ CEO, Michael Edelman to deliver a Keynote speech to an international audience at the UK NanoForum 2007 held in London on 27 November 2007.

Michael presented a case study on Nanoco Technologies showing how the company and its patented nanotechnology platform have grown from a University of Manchester spin-out to become an independent company enabling the quantum dot market and competing in the global marketplace to be the quantum dot supplier of choice for all application developers.
Nanoco solves the problem of scale manufacturing of quantum dots and leads the world in semi-conductor nanomaterials with a focus on next generation, heavy metal free quantum dots.

“We make strategic partnerships with global application developers and have substantive co-development contracts in place”, said Michael Edelman, “Support from UKTI has been key to our success. I was delighted to be asked to speak at this international nanotechnology conference, a great platform to show our strengths and to acknowledge the support that UKTI have given to help get us where we are in the global marketplace.”

The UK NanoForum was attended by over 350 delegates from over 22 countries.
Other UK companies presenting case studies included QinetiQ, Oxonica and NanoSight.

About Nanoco (www.nanocotechnologies.com)
Nanoco is a nano-material science company that holds patents related to industrial-scale production of Quantum Dots. Quantum Dots are Fluorescent semi-conducting nanocrystals that can be used in a range of applications from biological imaging to next generation solar cells and displays. The University of Manchester spinout was founded in 2001 and works in partnership with technology driven corporations to bring quantum dot based applications to the market around the world.

About UK NanoForum 2007 (www.uknanoforum2007.com)
This one-day conference and exhibition brought over 100 senior international delegates from more than 20 countries together with the best of the UK’s nanotechnology community.
The event included keynote addresses, themed workshops, an exhibition showcasing more than 60 UK nanotechnology companies/universities and extensive partnering opportunities.
With a focus on trade, investment and collaborations, UK NanoForum 2007 provided a networking forum for industry, academia, venture capitalists, technology purchasers and those seeking to develop joint ventures.

About UK Trade & Investment (www.uktradeinvest.gov.uk)
UK Trade & Investment is the Government organisation that helps UK-based companies succeed in an increasingly global economy. Its range of expert services are tailored to the needs of individual businesses to maximise their international success. We provide companies with knowledge, advice and practical support.

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