• We are catalysts for innovation, commercialising next-generation technologies developed by

    The University of Manchester’s world-class research base

    • £360m+ invested by venture funders

    • 40+ spin-out companies created

    • 7,500+ licences and IP partnerships concluded

    • 4,000+ invention disclosures received

    • £115m+ IP and R&D revenue generated for the University

  • We are catalysts for innovation, commercialising next-generation technologies developed by The University of Manchester’s world-class research base

    • £300m+ invested by venture funders since 2004

    • 40+ spin-out companies created

    • 4,800+

      licences and IP partnerships concluded

    • 3,700+ invention disclosures received

    • 1,300+ jobs generated across various industry sectors

    • £105m+ IP and R&D revenue generated for the University

Archive for September, 2013

Arago Technology powers ahead

An award-winning spin-out from The University of Manchester, which is helping energy transmission and distribution companies to increase network flexibility and capacity, has undertaken its first installation on the operational UK transmission network. 

Following a successful testing and development programme, six of Arago’s 132kV revolutionary Insulating Cross-Arms (ICAs) are now fitted to electricity pylons on the Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission network near Aberdeen. The project was funded through IFI (which is regulated by Ofgem).

The technology is contributing to helping meet the global need to increase electricity transmission capacity as demand increases and energy is decarbonised through increased electrification. It enables electricity network operators to address transmission bottlenecks by increasing the power capacity of existing lines or by building new lines with smaller and less obtrusive towers than with existing technology. In all cases, the visual and environmental impact on areas of outstanding natural beauty and populated areas is reduced.

The technology has been developed over the past 5 years by University of Manchester electrical engineers Professors Ian Cotton and Simon Rowland in a joint venture with EPL Composite Solutions Limited.  Financial and industry support to aid the commercialisation of the technology was provided through Ofgem Innovation Funding from  Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission (SHE Transmission) and National Grid Electricity Transmission (NG) with additional funding recently awarded by a number of investors including MTI’sUMIP Premier Fund (UPF).

Prototype ICAs hadpreviouslybeen installed for over 2 years on pylons in some of the most exposed areas of the UK to test their resistance to extreme weather.Since May 2012,ICAs have also been continuously energised and monitored at voltages required for the 400kV transmission network at a coastal test site in northern Scotland.

The technology,which won the Power/Energy category at the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) Innovation Awards in 2012,is a prime example of the successful commercialisation of world-leading University research to industry, and in this instance was facilitated by the University’s technology transfer office, UMIP.

Stewart Reid, Future Networks Manager at SHE Transmission said:"Successful operational deployment of six insulating cross-arms on our 132kV transmission line further extends our confidence in this technology. We expect that over the coming years the new cross-arms will provide us with a method to increase transmission capacity through voltage up-rating on some existing transmission lines. They could also, in suitable situations, provide a cost-effective option for building new overhead lines with reduced tower height with resulting reduced visual impact in the construction of these lines. We are pleased that this joint development between the University of Manchester and SHE Transmission has moved into the operational world."

Robin MacLaren, Chairman at Arago Technology Ltd said: “Installing these insulated cross arms on an operational line marks a major milestone in the development of Arago’s technology. After spending 5 years developing this product and subjecting it to a wide range of testing, Arago is pleased to commence its move towards commercial sales. I would like to thank SHE Transmission for its support on this installation and both SHE Transmission and National Grid for their wider support of the technology development.”



C4X Discovery & Southampton University collaborating on new cyclic peptides

C4XD technology to drive rational design of new drug candidates for HIV

University of Manchester spin-out, C4X Discovery (C4XD), a leader in conformational drug discovery and design, is to collaborate with the University of Southampton on rational design of novel drug candidates derived from cyclic peptides. Led by Dr Ali Tavassoli, a world expert in this area1,2, researchers at the University have discovered new blockers3 of a protein-protein interaction in viral budding, a key step in the process by which HIV spreads in the body. The partners will use C4XD's 4D NMR technology to analyse the active confirmation of the inhibitors, with this enhanced understanding of activity leading to optimised second-generation compounds with more drug-like properties.  

Cyclic peptides and macrocycles are rapidly emerging as an important class of molecule for interrupting otherwise intractable protein-protein interactions and providing the starting point for rational small molecule drug design. Dr Tavassoli is a world expert in the development of new methods for screening cyclic peptides and has published extensively on novel cyclic peptides for a range of therapeutically important targets, including HIV, Hif-1, Hif-2, methyltransferase and AICAR. C4XD’s technology allows for the rapid determination of the 3D conformations of ligand molecules in solution, including small-molecule drugs, cyclic peptides and macrocycles. In the collaboration, Dr Tavassoli’s group and C4XD will identify the active conformations of the HIV inhibitors and their key pharmacophores (groups of atoms responsible for activity) to enhance the design of second-generation inhibitors.

Knowledge of the bioactive conformation is crucial in driving rational drug design and, until now, X-ray co-crystallography has been the only method that can routinely measure it. C4XD has applied its technology to a wide range of ligands including peptides, carbohydrates, co-factors and small molecule drugs, and in every case, its dynamic 4D structures capture the bioactive conformation. This has powerful implications for drug discovery, significantly accelerating the design of improved molecules during hit discovery, hit-to-lead and lead optimisation processes.

Dr Sam Williams, CEO of C4X Discovery, said, ‘We are delighted to be collaborating on this world-leading research with Dr Tavassoli and his team at the University of Southampton. C4X Discovery expects the project to further exemplify the versatility of our technology across a range of molecules and its ability to drive drug design in a rational way. Drugs derived from macrocycles and constrained peptides are expected to be a major therapeutic class in the future4 and this work complements our proprietary research in this area.'

Dr Ali Tavassoli said, 'We are very excited to be working with C4X Discovery to further evolve our cyclic peptide inhibitor of HIV budding to a drug-like molecule. Budding inhibitors are an untapped class of HIV therapeutics, and the compound resulting from this collaboration could potentially lead to an important new class.'


1  Miranda, Elena, Nordgren, Ida, Male, Abigail, Lawrence, Charlotte, Hoakwie, Franciane, Cuda, F., Court, William, Fox, Keith R., Townsend, Paul, Packham, Graham K., Eccles, Suzanne A. and Tavassoli, Ali (2013). Journal of the American Chemical Society, 135, (28), 10418-10425

Birts, Charles N., Nijjar, Sharandip K., Mardle, Charlotte A., Hoakwie, Franciane, Duriez, Patrick J., Blaydes, Jeremy P. and Tavassoli, Ali (2013). Chemical Science, 4, (8), 3046-3057

3  Tavassoli, A.; Lu, Q.; Gam, J.; Pan, H.; Benkovic, S. J.; Cohen, S. N. ACS Chem Biol 2008, 3, 757.

4 SciBx collections April 2013, Macrocycles and constrained peptides

For further information please contact:

C4X Discovery Ltd

Sam Williams, CEO                                                                       +44 (0)7881 588947

Emma Palmer Foster, Strategic Communications Consultant           +44 (0)7880 787185


University of Southampton                                                          +44 (0)23 8059 3212

Glenn Harris, Media Relations Officer



UMIᶟ Ltd Appoints Scott Fletcher to Board of Directors

Scott Fletcher

UMIᶟ Ltd, The University of Manchester’s technology transfer company, has announced the appointment of Scott Fletcher to the Company’s Board as a non-executive Director.

Manchester born Scott is one the country’s leading entrepreneurs, heading up companies with a total valuation in excess of £100m. He founded what is now his largest business, IT solutions provider, ANS Group, from his back bedroom in 1996 at the age of 22. ANS floated on PLUS markets and now has a turnover of £50m.

As ANS Chairman, Scott is able to indulge his passion for investment in, and involvement with, start-up companies and is also Chairman and lead investor in Gödel Technologies and has recently funded Manchester entrepreneur Jasen Jackiw’s start-up company Prymo.

Scott has been named Entrepreneur of the Year for the North West at the National Business Awards, IOD Young Director of the Year and The PLUS Markets Chairman of the Year. He has served on the board of FC United of Manchester and the Manchester Academy, and currently sits on the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership.

Scott commented: “It’s a great privilege to be part of The University of Manchester in this way. It is a university which has a rich, proud history. Their innovative vision for the future, excellent world-class research facilities and strong pipeline of novel technologies are what enticed me to join as a non-executive Director. I am really looking forward to working with them and to raising further the profile of entrepreneurship at the University.”

Clive Rowland, UMIᶟ CEO, commented: “I am delighted that Scott is finding time in his very busy schedule to join our Board. We are always open to supplementing our in-house technology transfer expertise with experienced entrepreneurs who know what it is like to build a successful company from scratch and Scott fits that bill perfectly. Scott will help us further instil a spirit of innovation and drive into our activities which is as important to business success as are the amazing ideas and inventions that our staff and students come up with all of the time. I know that Scott will be a huge asset to us.”

MIMIT joins forces with Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst and Academic Health Science Centre TTOs

MIMIT joins forces with Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst and Academic Health Science Centre TTOs in England to tackle targeted drug delivery particularly in relation to neuro-degenerative disorders.

Manchester: Integrating Medicine and Innovative Technology (MIMIT) has joined forces with Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst to lead on an initiative with the Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC) Technology Transfer Organisations in England to address unmet healthcare need priorities in relation to neuro-degenerative disorders. The collaboration, involves Cambridge Enterprise, Imperial Innovations Ltd, King’s Business, UCL Business PLC and The University of Manchester Intellectual Property (with TRUSTECH) working closely together, with their parent AHSC’s, to scope, validate, prioritise and seek solutions to unmet health care needs.

The first initiative arising from this exciting joint AHSC collaboration was funded jointly between the Technology Transfer Organisations (listed above) and the National Innovation Centre and focussed on Hospital Acquired Infection. A second wave of projects focusing on unmet healthcare needs in relation to enhancing functional independence has been supported by Arthritis Research UK. This initiative has engaged patients and carers in the process of defining unmet healthcare needs.

The team is now delighted to have joined forces with Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst to address challenges in neurotherapeutics.

Allan Baxter, Chairman of Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst “We are delighted to be a part of this exciting network, a real example of Open Innovation with a focus on unmet clinical need; we are looking forward to progressing this specific project with the Academic Health Science Centres and MIMIT and to obtaining tangible outcomes that we can help translate into commercial reality and patient benefit, with the help of SBC's extensive community of experts.”

The longer-term aspiration of the collaboration is to accelerate and enhance the quality of innovative technology solutions for healthcare via the AHSC Technology Transfer Organisations that are linked to the wider NHS, Department of Health priorities and the Growth Team Agenda.

‘The AHSCs and MIMIT have approached innovation in the most effective way – by looking at what the NHS needs as opposed to what innovations are available. The NHS is surrounded by a wealth of available technology – the skill lies in selecting or developing that technology to address the specific challenges facing the NHS.’ Former Director, National Innovation Centre

For further information and any interest in participating in a local scoping event taking place on the 3rd October, 10am – 12noon, please contact Pip Peakman, MIMIT Project Officer (philippa.peakman@manchester.ac.uk) or Arnaud Garcon, UMIP Commercialisation Executive (arnaud.garcon@umip.com).


Investment bank Chief Executive appointed as Chair to the panel of University of Manchester/IP Group Spin-out Fund

The University of Manchester, through its technology transfer company UMIᶟ Ltd, and IP Group plc today announced the appointment of Altium Capital Chief Executive, Phil Adams, as Chairman to the panel of their recently launched £5M Proof-of-Principle (PoP) Fund.

The Fund has been set up to provide capital to new Proof-of-Principle projects intended for commercialisation through research at The University of Manchester.

Phil Adams, who has been in investment banking for more than 16 years including nearly 3 years in his current role as Group CEO of Altium Capital, brings a wealth of experience from advising on over fifty transactions including IPOs, hostile and recommended takeovers, placings plus general mergers and acquisitions. He also advises a wide range of companies and is experienced across sectors including leisure, support services, financial services and building materials.

Phil comments: “I am really excited to be involved in this partnership between Manchester University and IP Group. I think it is really important for the UK in general, and regional economies in particular, that the superb scientific and technical knowledge and knowhow in our universities is stimulated to enable new companies to be formed and ultimately spin out successfully.”

Clive Rowland, UMIᶟ CEO, comments: “The proof-of-principle stage is a critical one for us in the university technology transfer business. It is the bridge between the ideas and inventions that we identify at the University and having something that has been reduced to practice, with strong patents ‘around them’, to be able to demonstrate to industry and investors. Phil’s understanding of what makes a high quality proposition and his interest in building businesses is very welcome expertise to add to our approach. His strong connections with Manchester and London and his international contacts are ideal for our investor networking and for ensuring that we continue to stretch our ambitions and horizons.”