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
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.