More than £1M funding available under the MRC CIC scheme: 2016 call now open

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Do you have an interesting translational research idea?

The University of Manchester has been awarded funding in the fourth round of the MRC Confidence in Concept (CiC) scheme. The funds are intended to accelerate the transition from discovery research to translational development by supporting preliminary work or feasibility studies to establish the viability of an approach, before seeking more substantive funding (e.g. from MRC DPFS).

The call is now open for applications via submission of a 1-page Expression of Interest.

Deadline: 10am Friday 11th March 2016.

Further guidance about the call and the application process.

MRC Confidence in Concept (CiC) scheme 2016: Information event 24th February

We are holding an information event for CiC 2016 on 24th Feb, 11am-2pm (including lunch and networking) at the Nowgen Centre to share our experience from the previous rounds of the programme and provide guidance to potential applicants on how to prepare a competitive CiC proposal.

The information event will include an overview of the scheme from an MRC representative, an industry perspective on the programme, a series of brief presentations about previously-funded projects and details about the process for applications this year. The meeting will end with a buffet lunch giving an opportunity for networking and getting one-to-one advice on your CiC proposal ideas from MRC CiC programme representative, panel members, Research Deanery and Business Engagement (NB: one-to-one sessions must be pre-booked by contacting the Research Deanery).

Full details about the event including indicative agenda and event registration.

 

UMI3 Partnership with Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC)

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SBC Incubator

SBC Incubator

UMI3 Ltd is celebrating three years of working with the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst during which time a spin-out company has been formed and numerous other projects supported on the road towards commercialisation.

The Partnership is a working relationship between the Open Innovation Centre based at GlaxoSmithKine (GSK) in Stevenage and UMI3 Ltd, The University of Manchester’s innovation company, on Grafton Street in Manchester. The arrangement was initiated by ex-University of Manchester Incubator Company MD, Dr Martino Picardo, who left Manchester in 2011 to take up the role of CEO at the SBC.

Both parties have been working together since 2013 to foster biomedical innovation through a wide range of activities including: facilitating introductions to innovators, research collaboration managers and licensing executives; reciprocal exchange of information on tenant biomedical companies; sharing networks of investors and advisors and sharing best practice in biomedical innovation and incubation.

UMI3’s Dr Sunita Jones identified several potential technologies and discoveries from Manchester which were put forward to SBC’s Discover Assist Program, which comprises of a panel of independent experts and consultants. The collaboration has ultimately resulted in the formation of University of Manchester spin-out, Opticin Ltd, with others in the pipeline.

Opticin Limited Background

Opticin Ltd was set up by Professor Paul Bishop from the Centre for Hearing and Vision Research in the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, who discovered a human protein molecule which has the potential to prevent abnormal blood vessel formation in the eye. This discovery led to the ongoing development of a potential treatment for eye conditions in adults and premature babies.

Paul and his colleagues found that the protein had potent anti-angiogenic properties and had characteristics that suggested it could be suitable for development into a therapeutic drug that could complement existing therapies in the treatment of diabetic retinopathy (DR), a sight-threatening condition that affects 93 million people worldwide and in retinopathy of prematurity (RoP), affecting premature babies.

Help from the SBC

He explained how UMI3 Ltd, through its technology transfer division UMIP, and the SBC has helped to support the development of this novel technology through setting up a spin-out company:

“UMIP helped us to file the patent which enabled us to move the development of Opticin forwards. We also received Proof-of-Principle funding which allowed us to develop our research and were further supported by an additional input from the Welcome Trust. The support we have received has helped us to take this from a research finding to a development project with potentially significant clinical and commercial value.“

The technology was reviewed by an Expert Panel at the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst facilitated by Dr Picardo and subsequently development of Opticin was recommended via a spin-out. The company was incorporated in early 2014.

Paul added: “Although we initially intended Opticin for Oncology therapy the SBC input directed us towards a focus on Ophthalmology. Further input from potential investors, turned us to an orphan indication, RoP an eye condition in which blood vessels can grow from the retina into the vitreous humor, a condition which affects premature infants and patients with diabetes.

Current treatment involves laser treatment to the retina which can result in scarring. It is anticipated that injecting Opticin into the eye will be far less invasive with minimal side effects and increased efficacy. The spin-out is now seeking funding to complete the pre-clinical development of Opticin.”

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‘Making a Difference’ awards 2016

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making a difference 2016Following the success of the Making a Difference Awards for social responsibility 2015, The University of Manchester’s Social Responsibility team have now launched the ‘Making a Difference’ awards 2016. UMIP and MEC have again been working closely with the team to help shape a Social Enterprise category.

The ‘Outstanding Contribution to Social Enterprise (Aspiring and/or Trading for > 1 year) category will recognise social enterprises that are innovative and have made significant contributions to creating societal benefit.

The awards are open to all staff, students and recent graduates/ alumni (up to 2 years).

Entrants will be assessed based on either being;

  • an aspiring social enterprise i.e. demonstrating working towards the criteria below
  • or as a trading social enterprise able to fully demonstrate the criteria below

Social impact: Showing how operations (products, services, business models) have benefitted the community, or how they have committed a significant proportion of profit towards furthering the social purpose.

Business performance and financial viability: Demonstrating effective use of resources and an ability to operate a sustainable business; showing a shift in reliance on grant funding to deriving income through trading is advantageous; demonstrating scalability.

Innovation and productivity: Demonstrating innovative thinking in creation of enterprise and improvements in products/services/processes/delivery.

Leadership and governance:  Demonstrate vision and commitment and providing strategic guidance as well as ensuring corporate governance.

For more information about the awards and how to apply please follow the link: http://www.socialresponsibility.manchester.ac.uk/get-involved/awards/award-categories/

The closing date for entries is the 1st February and we would like to encourage you to get involved and raise the profile of your enterprise within the University. Don’t forget you can apply yourself or even nominate someone else and individuals and teams can enter. All entries will be assessed by a judging panel. Shortlisted initiatives will be published in March, with the winners being announced at a special awards ceremony in Whitworth Hall, on the evening of 11th May 2016.

Dowling – the real issues and the future

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The Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) of Edinburgh, Imperial, Oxford, Manchester and UCL have collaborated to endorse a paper called ‘Dowling – the real issues and the future’.

Professor Ann Dowling published her ‘Review of Business-University Research Collaborations’ in July 2015. The Review has been generally well received and contains much useful information and a series of recommendations.

In this article we discuss how our Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) will try to respond to the relevant observations and recommendations expressed in the Review and also comment on the need for action from other organisations in the UK innovation community. Further, we identify a number of characteristics that make up a ‘good’ industry or business partner for working together with universities.

Please click here to access the document.

University of Manchester Team runners-up in Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES) 2015 Competition

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A team from The University of Manchester were runners up in the national final of the BiotechnologyYES competition. Following a day of pitching at the Sofitel London St. James, the awards ceremony was held on 10th December at One Whitehall Place, London. Alcoa ™ Ltd beat off stiff competition from other university teams from across the country in the plant, microbial and environment category of the EnvironmentYES Syngenta workshop in November to win a place in the national finals.

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From left to right: Victoria Spencer; Mariela Aguilera Miranda; Yaomin Cai; Laura Velazquez Carrasco; Tom Driver

Aloca Ltd has developed a method of producing cocoa powder and cocoa butter from algae instead of cocoa beans. Cocoa butter and powder can be combined to make cocoa liquor, the form of cocoa sold on a large scale for chocolate production. One algal line has been generated to produce butter with fatty acid ratios equivalent to that of cocoa butter, whilst another line has been generated with high levels of the cocoa aroma protein ‘vicillin’ for the production of cocoa powder. These strains are produced using non-GM modern breeding techniques and are suitable for production and sale across the globe. The rising cocoa deficit is causing ever-growing concern in the chocolate industry and Alcoa is the only viable cocoa alternative with the potential to ethically fill the huge gap in the market, without compromising on quality, taste or cost.

Tom Driver, Alcoa’s Head of IP and Legal, comments: “We’re delighted to have made it to the final of Environment YES 2015. The experience as a whole has been fantastic and we have all learned so much, and developed well as a team throughout the process.  The competition has been a thoroughly enjoyable and useful experience, and will help us in our future careers. We would like to thank everyone at Environment YES for organising such a fabulous event, we are also extremely grateful to everyone at UMIP for their great help and advice on our business plan.”

The Biotechnology Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (Biotechnology YES) is an innovative competition developed to raise awareness of the commercialisation of bioscience ideas among early career researchers. The competition, funded by sponsorship, aims to encourage an entrepreneurial culture for the benefit of the UK economy.

Biotechnology YES is organised jointly by The University of Nottingham’s Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (HGI), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC).

The thematic heats were held over three days across the country throughout October and November. Regional professionals, including representatives from UMIP and their network of advisors and professional associates offered mentoring sessions to the researchers during the competition. Teams also attended seminars giving advice and tips on how to develop their ideas into commercially-viable opportunities.

Each team was required to build a compelling proposal for a hypothetical bioscience business concept. On the final day of the event they presented their concept to a judging panel of biotechnology, intellectual property and business experts to win the chance to reach the finals in London.

Dr Rich Ferrie, Director of Operations UMIP, commented: “I am delighted that Alcoa were runners-up. This competition gives young scientists an opportunity to learn about business creation from a range of seasoned professionals, all of whom give their valuable time for free. This year’s competition was the strongest field we have seen. It was a great pleasure to Chair one of the panels of judges and see for myself how much the teams had progressed in such a short period. Congratulations to Alcoa and to all the teams that took part.”

For further information about the winners of the competition, please see here

 

 

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