Dr. Constantinos Theodoropoulos and Professor Colin Webb from the School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science at The University of Manchester are the recipients of the prestigious 2011 IChemE Innovation and Excellence Award for Bioprocessing for their work on “Sustainable biorefineries through the co-production of fuels and chemicals: The biochemical production of succinic acid from biorefinery glycerol”. The IChemE awards took place on 3rd November at the ICC, Birmingham.
The rise of biorefineries has led to a world-wide surplus of glycerol, the main by-product of biodiesel production and prices have dropped significantly. Current markets cannot absorb the predicted increase in glycerol as demand grows for biodiesel, so new uses must be found. One option is turning it into commodity chemicals. Theodoropoulos and Webb, along with their research groups at Manchester found that a bacterium, Actinobacillus succinogenes, can convert glycerol into succinic acid, used in a variety of products from medicines, to food flavours, to plasticisers. According to the US Department of Energy, succinic acid is one of the top value-added chemicals produced from biomass. The team have studied A. succinogenes under a variety of conditions and nutrients and developed predictive computational models for the process and for relevant integrated biorefinery designs. This process will add significant value to this by-product stream leading to the construction of integrated biorefineries with significantly improved economic sustainability, which co-produce fuels and chemicals.
UMIP has funded the development of scale up of the process through its Proof-of-Principle (PoP) funding programme and has protected the intellectual property (IP) by patent filing. Simon Clarke, UMIP Licensing Manager, comments: “It is great news that this exciting technology has been recognised at the IChemE Innovation and Excellence Awards, which are highly regarded throughout the international chemical, process and biochemical engineering community. The research team has made good progress so far and we are now working together on a commercialisation plan which will ultimately enable scaling up to industrial levels.”
According to the IChemE Chief Executive David Brown: “Winning an IChemE award is a real achievement. Our awards are globally recognised and attract entries from all over the world. To be deemed the best in a particular area of chemical engineering like this is something worth celebrating and in past years, has proven to be the launch pad to even greater successes.”
Over 200 people from the Northwest’s biomedical sector gathered last night (Thursday 24th November) at the 11th Northwest Biomedical Awards at Mere Golf and Country Club. This prestigious awards dinner celebrates key achievements from companies and individuals who have made a significant contribution to the biomedical sector during 2011.
The awards, organised by Bionow, were a resounding success and showcased the very best of the region’s world-class biotechnology sector.
The Manchester winners were:
Conformetrix Ltd – Emerging Biomedical Technology Project of the Year.
Myconostica Ltd – Biomedical Project of the Year.
Qiagen Manchester Ltd – Company of the Year.
Shortlisted for Biomedical Product or Service of the Year was Phagenesis Ltd. Epistem was shortlisted for Emerging Biomedical Technology Project of the Year.
Shortlisted for Healthcare Project of the Year was Paul Malone, Medical and Human Sciences, and Neil Dixon from The School of Chemistry was shortlisted for Promising Biomedical Technologist of the Year.
Other winners on the night included Microvisk Technologies (Healthcare Project of the Year), Jonathan Souquet, Eden Biodesign (Promising Biomedical Technologist of the Year), Redx Pharma (Start-up of the Year) and Sky Medical Technology (Biomedical Product or Service of the Year).
A multi-disciplinary University team from the School of Mathematics (EPS) and Manchester Business School (Humanities) has developed a novel means of helping mining companies accurately calculate reserve valuations and specify optimal production decisions. The technology provides a solution to an inaccurate methodology used as common practice within the mining industry for the past 40 years and will have a positive impact on helping to increase mining companies’ profits and their longer-term stability. The cutting-edge techniques used to create the Reserve Valuation and Optimisation Model (RVOM) are a significant step forward from traditional methods, and the Team is now seeking a leading commercial partner to join the project to enable RVOM to become the mining industry standard for valuation.
Before developing RVOM, Professor Peter Duck (Mathematics), Professor Sydney Howell (MBS), Dr Geoffrey Evatt (MBS)and Dr Paul Johnson (Mathematics) had been working together investigating the valuation and optimal control of stored quantities in the presence of stochastic uncertainty, specialising in model formulation and partial differential equation (‘PDE’) based numerical schemes. The Team is applying these powerful techniques to a number of problems, including optimal temperature control, the optimal trading and storage of wind power and the valuation of mortgage-backed financial securities; prior to RVOM the Team had not studied finite natural resources.
Work on the RVOM began in earnest in 2008, when a generic model for valuing a finite resource was needed in relation to Uranium stocks, for a UK government sponsored investigation into the sustainability of nuclear power. Since much of the Team’s research over the past few years had been in logically similar problems, the Team already had the necessary set of skills with which to tackle the resource valuation problem.
Commenting on the project, Peter Duck said: “Being able to make fast and accurate valuations of reserves in the presence of economic and geological uncertainty is of critical importance to mining companies. RVOM draws upon recent advances in financial mathematics, to make faster and more accurate reserve valuations than before. It can achieve this in the presence of numerous uncertainties, such as price fluctuations and ore grade uncertainty, and can even set the optimal processing rules a mining company should use.”
The RVOM team contacted the University of Manchester Intellectual Property Ltd (UMIP), which also saw strong industrial and commercial potential. UMIP made preliminary enquiries with leading mining software providers to test the commercial appetite for such a project and the response was extremely positive. With their specialties drawn from mathematics, finance, real-options and business/industry the broad scope of the team’s skills ensures that academic, financial and industrial aspects of the study are all addressed quickly and effectively.
Pioneer in the treatment of acute and chronic dysphagia secures additional VC funding to accelerate commercialisation strategy
Manchester, UK. 4th October 2011 –University of Manchester spin-out company, Phagenesis Ltd, the global leader in the treatment of dysphagia (inability to swallow safely) today announced that it has closed a €7 million Series B funding round designed to accelerate the company’s development plans.
The investment is led by Inventages, one of the world’s largest life science funds specialised in treatment solutions for chronic diseases. Existing shareholders also participated in the round.
The Phagenesis device delivers a precisely sequenced and calibrated electrical signal to the pharynx of the dysphagic patient. Peer-reviewed clinical trials have shown that this treatment is safe and effective in improving the patients’ safe swallowing ability.
Gunnar Weikert, Founder of Inventages, said, “Phagenesis is addressing a critical unmet need in a very large market. Dysphagic patients are underserved by modern medicine and many face tube-feeding and a significant loss of quality of life for decades. Phagenesis is ideally-placed to meet this challenge.”
Ashok Dhanrajgir, Senior Partner at Inventages and incoming Board Director added, “We are optimistic that Phagenesis will demonstrate further clinical evidence on efficacy and health economic benefits to society.”
Daniel Green, CEO of Phagenesis, said, “Phagenesis has translated the research of our academic founder Professor Shaheen Hamdy into a medical device designed to alleviate the suffering of millions of patients around the world. We and Inventages share a vision of our technology and the way it can be deployed to benefit these patients, and we welcome them on board.”
Phagenesis is developing the first clinically proven treatment for dysphagia, a debilitating and often lethal condition in which the patient’s ability to swallow is damaged. Dysphagia can lead to the inhalation of solids or liquids followed by pneumonia. Sufferers may face being fed through a tube indefinitely, reduced life expectancy, and many are treated for depression. Phagenesis raised a £2 million Series A financing in 2010. For more information, please visit our website at www.phagenesis.com.
Inventages is one of the world’s largest life-sciences, nutrition and wellness focused venture capital funds, with the resources to provide continued support to growing companies. For more information, please visit www.inventages.com
UMI3 director Bryan Bodek has been named Ernst & Young Business Products and Services Entrepreneur of the Year 2011. Mr Bodek who is chief executive of Airline Services' serves on the UMI? board as Non Executive Director (Independent Director) Deputy Chairman.
His former roles have included being a former lawyer with Manchester legal firm Kuit solicitors and he is also the ex vice chairman of Manchester City Football Club.
Airline Services has tripled size in the last six years and now operates from eleven UK airports. Its most recent accounts show turnover growth of 26% to £40.9m and profit growth of 82% to £3.6m.
Mr Bodek said he was 'overwhelmed' to take the national award for Business Products and Services. He said:
"I'm surprised and delighted and I'm still scratching my head as to how I'm here.
Not such a long time ago I was sitting behind my desk as a corporate lawyer in Manchester, but I had a vision and an opportunity, and I'm now leading a business serving 226 airlines around the world.
l am lucky, I have a great team around me, we have a good order book. The growth of Airline Services has been a team effort."
Elaine O’Donnell, partner at Ernst & Young in the North West and regional leader for the Entrepreneur of the Year programme, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that Bryan and the other winners have been recognised for their great innovation, integrity and clear vision.”
Guest speaker was Business Secretary Vince Cable, who said the Government was doing all it could – against a backdrop of "a very dangerous and difficult period" – to support business growth and entrepreneurialism.