EPSRC Healthcare Technologies NetworkPlus

Written by UMIP on . Posted in News

You may already be aware of EPSRC’s recently announced call for Healthcare Technologies NetworkPlus proposals. The aim is to build UK-wide networks to address the recently announced Healthcare Technologies Grand Challenges.  EPSRC expects to fund 8 networks, each of which must have representation from several disciplines and institutions. The funding available is around £600k per network, split between community-building activities and feasibility projects (the Plus component). The closing date for proposals is 6th October 2015, with a compulsory expression of interest deadline of 8th September.

These networks are likely to be important in shaping the future EPSRC funding landscape in Healthcare Technologies, so it is important for the University to be involved. Please think about the possibility of leading a network and/or contributing to one led by another university. There is no limit on the number of applications that can be submitted, but the University will be coordinating responses to this call with a view to: providing help and advice, avoiding overlap, avoiding underlap (failing to draw fully on relevant strengths), and preparing institutional letters of support.

If you are interested in leading a proposal, or participating in one led by another University, please complete the online internal expression of interest form by 27th July 2015. If you have any queries, please contact katherine.boylan@manchester.ac.uk.

NB. The call document makes it clear that EPSRC will not fund NetworkPlus proposals that overlap significantly with existing EPSRC-NIHR HTC Partnership Networks. These are not easy to find so we have provided brief details here.

Award-winning University of Manchester software project teams up with Cloud Enterprise Software Limited

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TRAM (Textual Analysis into Analysis Models) is award-winning novel software which automates a key stage in the process of developing business software systems. It converts user requirements, written in plain English, to analysis models that can be used directly as the basis for software development.

The software has been developed by PhD students Erol-Valeriu Chioasca and Keletso Joel Letsholo with supervisor Dr. Liping Zhao from The University of Manchester’s Software Systems Research Group with business and IP management by UMIP.

To help turn the research project into a cloud solution, TRAM has enlisted Cloud Enterprise Software Limited based on Manchester Science Park. The company will collaborate with the TRAM team to further validate and develop the software so that it can be implemented as a transferable, stand-alone product.

Wai Lau, director of Cloud Enterprise Software Limited, comments: “Cloud Enterprise is all about enabling great technology to get online and achieve commercial success. It is a privilege to be collaborating with The University of Manchester in bringing its latest technology to market. TRAM is one of the most innovative technologies around. With global reach online it has very exciting times ahead.”

TRAM’s Erol Chioasca comments: “We are very excited about working with UMIP and collaborating with Cloud Enterprise to bring this technology to market. Here at TRAM we strive to create smarter, more collaborative automation software that doesn’t constrain its users but instead allows them the freedom to communicate and complete tasks better, more efficiently.”

Existing tools that convert requirements into analysis models typically work within a deliberately constrained framework using templates and rules. TRAM is different, in that it can deal with entirely unstructured, unrestricted natural language. This means that the statements of requirements can be written by anyone, not necessarily a business systems analyst or IT expert, thus saving both time and money.

In May, TRAM won the Research Category of the University’s Venture Further Competition

Spectromics concludes its first Venture Capital financing round

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Spectromics, the developer of rapid diagnostics to guide effective antibiotic treatment and reduce escalation of antibiotic resistance, concludes its first Venture Capital financing round.

New Wave Ventures, a UK based Venture Capital investor has led the financing round that will provide the necessary funds to optimise and fully characterise this novel technology that promises to control how antibiotic stewardship will be managed at the point-of-prescription.

Ian George, Chief Scientific Officer of New Wave Ventures said “We understand the anti-infective sector, and the opportunity for game changing technologies to gain rapid adoption in the fight against antibiotic resistance. We have made successful investments in anti-infective therapy companies, but we also recognise how diagnostics can provide a targeted therapeutic approach to ensure patients receive effective treatments. What we liked about the Spectromics technology is the fact that the test is fast enough to fit within the existing doctor-prescription-patient process. Also the test is low in complexity and cost, yet phenotypic so that the test keeps pace with pathogen mutation. Those are 3 primary characteristics that can make this technology a winner.”

Co-investor Professor Douglas Kell, Research Chair of Bioanalytical Sciences, The University of Manchester and past Chief Executive of the BBSRC said “As a microbiologist that has worked in the area of rapid diagnostics of complex systems for most of my career, and as a Founding Director of Aber Instruments (a company specialising in real-time biomass detection), I am impressed by the speed of this phenotypic test and from the data seen to date I believe it will be able to change how we select antimicrobials for effective treatment of individual infections.”

Neil Butler, CEO of Spectromics said “I am pleased to have investors that understand the value of a rapid phenotypic diagnostic that better targets antibiotic treatment at the point-of-prescription, remote from microbiology labs, whether in doctors’ surgeries, clinics or global health settings, i.e. in the frontline for antibiotic treatment.

We have a precise development plan of work over the next 6 months, and resources in place to carry it out. At the end of this work plan we will have optimised the test method and carried out a full evaluation of our first test for Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). We will then secure further financing for commercial product realisation and clinical studies.

What excites me most about this business is that we have a novel and unique technology that will be able to impact the way we use and preserve antibiotics. Also the timing couldn’t be better because the world is now conscious to the fact we are at threat from untreatable infections unless we use diagnostics to guide the antibiotics we have at hand.”

Contact Spectromics


+44 (0)1580 891106


University of Manchester rides high at Unltd SEEChange social enterprise awards

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The Social Enterprise Team at UMIP and Manchester Enterprise Centre (MEC) walked away with a series of accolades at the UnLtd SEEChange Recognition Awards for Social Enterprise which were held in London on 10th June.

Not only did the University retain the prestigious Higher Education Institute of the Year Award for Supporting Social Entrepreneurship but many of its social enterprises and key projects also won awards.

Shon Lewis and Charlie Stockton’s Clintouch, a new technology which supports people with pyschosis won the Outstanding Innovation Award. Edwin Broni-Mensah, who graduated just under 5 years ago and was one of the first student winners of an UnLtd development award and a Venture Further finalist in 2010, was a runner-up in this category.

Ruth Daniel won the Social Enterprise of the Year Award for her work with In Place Of War, an award-winning initiative which helps to build powerful networks, create social change through creativity and demonstrate the value of the arts to public space, public life and public debate. Amy Win was shortlisted in the same category for her project 4Lunch.

Adam Garrow won the Outstanding Achievement Award for Jolly Wheezers and Dr Laura Etchells from UMIP and Dr Martin Henery from MEC were both runners up in the Social Entrepreneurship Champion of the Year category.

James Thompson, Associate Vice President for Social Responsibility at the University commented:

“Social entrepreneurship is at the heart of our University culture and infrastructure and these successes are a great demonstration of that commitment to enterprise, research with social impact and social responsibility. This is a well-deserved show of recognition for the work of MEC, UMIP and all of the staff and student winners and runners-up.”

Tony Walker of UMIP’s Social Enterprise Team added: ‘’These awards reflect the positive way in which social enterprise and impact can emerge from all of the fantastic staff and student ideas we have here in Manchester. It’s particularly pleasing that our social enterprise champions Martin and Laura were also shortlisted. This is a growing area of focus nationally for universities and we are pleased to be in the forefront of this and leading the change.’’


From l to r: Ellie Sagar and Tony Walker (UMIP), Nickala Torkington (UnLtd), Adam Garrow (Jolly Wheezers ) and Martin Henery (MEC)

From l to r: Ellie Sagar and Tony Walker (UMIP), Nickala Torkington (UnLtd), Adam Garrow (Jolly Wheezers ) and Martin Henery (MEC)


Golden Shares & Anti-dilution Provisions in University Spin-outs

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The Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Imperial, Oxford, Manchester and UCL have collaborated to endorse another briefing paper called “Golden Shares & Anti-dilution Provisions.”  This paper has been written by Tom Hockaday, CEO, Isis Innovation ltd and Tony Hickson, Managing Director Technology Transfer, Imperial Innovations plc.

From time to time the idea of introducing anti-dilution provisions into university spin-out company shareholder agreements re-emerges for discussion. When the idea that universities could have special ‘golden’ shares in spin-outs from their universities was first proposed many years ago, the practicalities were challenged by some seasoned investors, as no special provisions would survive further rounds of investment.

However, the idea has recently been revived by some influential UK based investors and other commentators as being a potential solution to solve problems that they see are holding back the formation of technology companies in the UK namely:

  • that UK universities take too much equity in spin-outs and more equity should be retained by founding entrepreneurs to incentivise them to carry out this type of activity
  • that negotiations between universities, founders and investors around equity and IP (which are often linked) take too long and this may be limiting the numbers of start-ups being created

As one experienced investor and advocate for this model explains:

“The real idea is to maximise the number of spinouts formed and not maximise what the universities get for the IP. My argument is they will make more money since there will be so many more companies formed”

As such, it is worth exploring the idea and issues raised.

Please click here for the full document.



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