University of Manchester provides a unique underwater monitoring system to the nuclear industry

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AVEXIS2Funding has been secured by The University of Manchester and a consortium of partners for the design, development and commercialisation of a unique low-cost, scalable mobile sensor system which can operate, survey and analyse surroundings individually or as part of a swarm in bodies of water. Commercialisation will be undertaken by UMIP, the University’s technology transfer arm.

The funding will enable the development of the University’s Aqua Vehicle Explorer for In-situ Sensing (AVEXIS) technology in two parallel work streams.

The first development project (miniROV) has been driven by Sellafield’s requirement to find a device which could access and remotely assess a storage compartment on the Sellafield site.

The tethered mini-ROV will be equipped with a video camera and will scan and assess the pond’s underwater environment and provide detailed real-time data which will be transmitted back to researchers.

The project has been funded by a consortium which includes The University of Manchester, through its UMIP Proof-of-Principle Fund, the EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) IAA Exploitation Secondment Fund and Sellafield Ltd. Forth Engineering will act as a subcontractor for the majority of the mechanical work and deployment of the vehicle on Sellafield’s site. The final output of the project will be a CE marked and fully Sellafield-compliant device.

Commenting on the Sellafield project Mark Dowson, Business and Technology Manager Sellafield Ltd Technical Directorate, said: “This is a great example of industry turning to the University to help find better solutions and new technology to improve the delivery of our Decommissioning mission. This storage compartment is difficult to access for any extended period of time and sealed, so it is desirable to employ a remote device to carry out this survey. This particular mini-ROV is the perfect device as it can fit through a restricted access port, is highly manoeuvrable, and it can scan the environment and send back data for analysis.”

The second project is to further develop the core AVEXIS technology. UMIP have secured a separate funding package from partners including the University and its Dalton Nuclear Institute, Innovus and Forth Engineering. This funding will enable the development and deployment of two AVEXIS vehicles which are able to communicate with each other and a central base station, taking sensor measurements as they autonomously navigate an uncluttered environment. These untethered vehicles will be tested in Forth Engineering’s ponds.

Dr Simon Watson of the School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering at The University of Manchester commented: “These projects are a great example of how research can be progressed from the University into the real-world and provide benefits to both industry and academia.”

Beyond the successful development of the core technology the vision is to manufacture multiple devices, with the ability to carry different sensor payloads, providing greater functionality and with the swarming capability allowing collaboration to improve the resolution of both sensing and positioning.

Both projects are a milestone for the nuclear industry and are substantial for Cumbria. The technology is also seeking applications in the Oil & Gas and Water Sectors.


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New University of Manchester spin-out, Spectromics Limited, set to develop novel technology for effective use of antibiotics and other antimicrobial therapeutics

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Manchester, UK  07/04/2014: University of Manchester spin-out, Spectromics Limited, is set to develop novel technology that will help guide the effective use of antibiotics and other antimicrobial therapeutics.

The formation of Spectromics is the result of three years of research by Professor Roy Goodacre of the Institute of Biotechnology and School of Chemistry at The University of Manchester, and Dr Mathew Upton, School of Biomedical and Healthcare Sciences, Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, formerly at the School of Inflammation and Repair at The University of Manchester. Both are Directors of the company.

The technology, relating to rapid diagnostics for antimicrobial susceptibility testing, will allow doctors to determine the most effective drug to be prescribed for each patient, bringing a personalised medicine approach to the widespread use of antibiotics.

Growing resistance to antimicrobials is a global threat to the successful treatment of bacterial infections. This is a problem that is recognised by all of the major nations; the UK Chief Medical Officer stated that it is one of the three biggest threats to human health and it featured at last year’s G8 conference as a threat ranked alongside terrorism. Resistance to antibiotics is exacerbated by the current practice of issuing “best guess” prescriptions without knowing whether the patient actually has a bacterial infection, and whether that particular infection may be resistant to the drug being prescribed.

To run tests today to determine whether a drug is required and which is most effective takes days in a microbiology lab. The Spectromics technology will allow a doctor to run a 10 minute test which will indicate if an antibiotic is required, and if so, which one. The test will comprise of a small instrument and a cartridge into which the sample is added.

Over the next three years Spectromics will develop the commercial system for the first application. This will be for urinary tract infection which is the most prevalent bacterial infection affecting human health. Following this, other test specific cartridges for other clinical applications will follow.

Neil Butler, CEO of Spectromics commented: “I have been the CEO from formation of two other companies in the past, Vivacta and Oxford Biosensors, and worked in Point-of-Care diagnostics for fifteen years. What really excites me about Spectromics is the compelling need for a diagnostic that guides antibiotic treatment at the point-of-prescription. This technology is very differentiated as nothing else comes close to our test turnaround time. We are planning to raise significant investment, so that we can build the organisation rapidly, which in turn will bring the commercial system to market ASAP. This product was needed yesterday and we are going to make this technology the answer to the global call for a solution to antimicrobial stewardship.”

Stephen France of UMIP, the University of Manchester’s agent for Intellectual Property commercialisation, added: “The lack of new antibiotics, that has caused a 30 year discovery void, is alarming as our established drugs have a growing resistance making them ineffective in treating infections. The worry is that what have in the past been easily treated bacterial infections could in future be untreatable and life threatening. There are solutions to this problem: new antibiotics, and better stewardship of the ones we have, and we believe that both solutions are required for an effective remedy of the problem. When we saw the speed of this technology we knew it was a winner and this why we didn’t hesitate to build a business to exploit it fully.”

Contact Spectromics: email

RSE/STFC Enterprise Fellowships 2014

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Applications are invited for potential entrepreneurs, who have the backing of a host institution, to commercialise the outcomes of their STFC funded research. The closing date is 16th May 2014.

Funded by STFC and delivered by the Royal Society of Edinburgh, this one year Enterprise Fellowship is designed to give the fellow both the time to develop the commercialisation idea and the training to develop their business skills. Fellows will be paired with a mentor giving them a valuable insight and connection to the business world. The aim of the scheme is to make both the technology and the fellow more competitive in business.

Applications will need to show that there is an STFC technology that has commercial potential and that the prospective fellow has the commitment to develop and utilise their business skills. Previous fellowships include using software that was initially designed to help control spacecraft systems, developed into revolutionary animation software leading to the spin out IKinema, work on hydrogen storage that lead to the spin out Cella Energy and imaging technologies, which supported the spin out Symetrica.

For further information and application forms please follow the relevant links to the RSE and STFC and for any questions please contact Anne Fraser at the RSE or Phillip Tait at STFC

University of Manchester scientist recognised for entrepreneurial spirit

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Dr Curtis Dobson has won the Commercial Innovator of the Year award at the BBSRC’s Fostering Innovation Awards 2014. The awards were presented at a high-profile event in London on 20 March 2014 in front of an invited audience of leading figures from the worlds of investment, industry, government, charity and academia.

He scooped the £15,000 award is recognition of the successful transfer of technology and resultant healthcare impact over many years with two University of Manchester spin-out companies based on Dr Dobson’s research: Ai2 Ltd and Microsensor Ltd.

Ai2 Ltd has developed anti-infective peptide technology for use in ophthalmics and in medical devices, such as urinary catheters and stents as well being utilised in wound dressings and consumer products.

Microsensor Ltd is developing a new approach to the early detection of medical device infection and environmental monitoring The technology is simple, inexpensive and robust, providing a clear ‘yes/no’ signal, indicating a clinically or industrially relevant level of infection on a surface, thereby enabling early intervention.

Dr Curtis Dobson said: “Being recognised by this BBSRC award is a privilege and an honour, and further validates our efforts to tackle resistant infection, which impacts so many people throughout the UK and beyond. The additional funds will help us accelerate commercialisation of our latest technologies, ultimately delivering benefits to patients sooner.”

Professor Ian Kimber, FLS’s Associate Dean for Business Development comments: “This is a remarkable achievement and is a testament to the industry and innovation of Curtis and his co-workers. It is a reflection also of the emphasis we place on ensuring that the fruits of our substantial investment in research deliver valuable products and opportunities.”

Greater Manchester Academic Health Science Centre Network Technology Innovation Challenge

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Clinical challenge: Reducing harm and enhancing safety across Greater Manchester and beyond.

Background: The Greater Manchester Academic Health Science Centre Network (GMAHSN), Manchester: Integrating Medicine and Innovative Technology (MIMIT) and TRUSTECH are working together to address unmet healthcare needs in the area of ‘reducing harm and enhancing safety across Greater Manchester and beyond.’ We are now seeking any potential device that will address these broad challenges.

 Scope: Any device that addresses the clinical challenge.

We are particularly interested and priority will be given to devices that:

  • Facilitate medicines risk surveillance, alert and /or response in primary care.
  • Monitor and prevent falls
  • Monitor and prevent leg ulcers
  • Facilitate cardiac and renal disease risk surveillance, alert and /or response in primary care.

This specific call does not include technologies for data mining / handling big data.

Objective: To provide 8 months seed grant funding to support early stage technology innovation that will: 1) accelerate the development of new healthcare technologies to the point where they can lever further investment, 2) facilitate early collaboration with industry and 3) ultimately enable them to benefit patient care faster and more effectively.

Amount of award per project: Up to £40k total per project will be awarded for a period of up to 8 months.

Eligibility: This initiative is open to investigators employed by any of the GMAHSN organisations and / or Greater Manchester SMEs

Application process: All applications must be submitted through the MIMIT CoLab web based platform.

Click the following link to login:

Applications are evaluated in two phases: a solicitation for two-page Outline Proposal and a second phase for Full Research Proposals. Outline Proposals are structured to enable you to briefly describe:

–        The clinical need that the technology is addressing

–        The technology / idea

–        How the technology will address the unmet healthcare need?

–        Which of the specific aspects of the clinical problem you are addressing?

–        The expertise within the team to address the unmet healthcare need.

If invited to the full proposal stage you will be required to provide in seven pages:

–        Clinical unmet need addressed, including details of the magnitude of Clinical problem (Incidence, medical impact, cost of the problem, underlying trends).

–        A summary of the proposed work

–        A description of the proposed solution and why it should be pursued

–        A description of the proposed work, specific aims and associated milestones

–        A description of the team members and their contributions

–        An outline of the potential challenges and how they may be addressed

–        How you will manage any potential IP arising from the project

–        A breakdown of the budget and associated justification

–        An outline of the next steps you anticipate upon completion of the proposed work

Deadline for submission of outline proposals is midnight on the 5th May 2014

Based upon a review and selection of the most promising projects in phase one, invitations are extended to a limited number of applicants to submit full proposals during phase two. The deadline for submission for full proposals will be midnight on the 31st May 2014.

Successful proposals will demonstrate:

  • The potential impact of the device on patient care
  • The technology is likely to lead to longer term clinical adoption
  • The proposal fits logically into a technology development plan
  • A clear project plan and pathway for development
  • Opportunity for industry collaboration or early industry engagement where appropriate
  • The proposal is a maximum of 8 months duration and can be delivered February 28, 2015.

Likelihood of leading to follow on funding.


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