The Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) of Edinburgh, Imperial, Oxford, Manchester and UCL have collaborated to endorse a paper called ‘Dowling – the real issues and the future’.
Professor Ann Dowling published her ‘Review of Business-University Research Collaborations’ in July 2015. The Review has been generally well received and contains much useful information and a series of recommendations.
In this article we discuss how our Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) will try to respond to the relevant observations and recommendations expressed in the Review and also comment on the need for action from other organisations in the UK innovation community. Further, we identify a number of characteristics that make up a ‘good’ industry or business partner for working together with universities.
Please click here to access the document.
A team from The University of Manchester were runners up in the national final of the BiotechnologyYES competition. Following a day of pitching at the Sofitel London St. James, the awards ceremony was held on 10th December at One Whitehall Place, London. Alcoa ™ Ltd beat off stiff competition from other university teams from across the country in the plant, microbial and environment category of the EnvironmentYES Syngenta workshop in November to win a place in the national finals.
From left to right: Victoria Spencer; Mariela Aguilera Miranda; Yaomin Cai; Laura Velazquez Carrasco; Tom Driver
Aloca Ltd has developed a method of producing cocoa powder and cocoa butter from algae instead of cocoa beans. Cocoa butter and powder can be combined to make cocoa liquor, the form of cocoa sold on a large scale for chocolate production. One algal line has been generated to produce butter with fatty acid ratios equivalent to that of cocoa butter, whilst another line has been generated with high levels of the cocoa aroma protein ‘vicillin’ for the production of cocoa powder. These strains are produced using non-GM modern breeding techniques and are suitable for production and sale across the globe. The rising cocoa deficit is causing ever-growing concern in the chocolate industry and Alcoa is the only viable cocoa alternative with the potential to ethically fill the huge gap in the market, without compromising on quality, taste or cost.
Tom Driver, Alcoa’s Head of IP and Legal, comments: “We’re delighted to have made it to the final of Environment YES 2015. The experience as a whole has been fantastic and we have all learned so much, and developed well as a team throughout the process. The competition has been a thoroughly enjoyable and useful experience, and will help us in our future careers. We would like to thank everyone at Environment YES for organising such a fabulous event, we are also extremely grateful to everyone at UMIP for their great help and advice on our business plan.”
The Biotechnology Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (Biotechnology YES) is an innovative competition developed to raise awareness of the commercialisation of bioscience ideas among early career researchers. The competition, funded by sponsorship, aims to encourage an entrepreneurial culture for the benefit of the UK economy.
Biotechnology YES is organised jointly by The University of Nottingham’s Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (HGI), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC).
The thematic heats were held over three days across the country throughout October and November. Regional professionals, including representatives from UMIP and their network of advisors and professional associates offered mentoring sessions to the researchers during the competition. Teams also attended seminars giving advice and tips on how to develop their ideas into commercially-viable opportunities.
Each team was required to build a compelling proposal for a hypothetical bioscience business concept. On the final day of the event they presented their concept to a judging panel of biotechnology, intellectual property and business experts to win the chance to reach the finals in London.
Dr Rich Ferrie, Director of Operations UMIP, commented: “I am delighted that Alcoa were runners-up. This competition gives young scientists an opportunity to learn about business creation from a range of seasoned professionals, all of whom give their valuable time for free. This year’s competition was the strongest field we have seen. It was a great pleasure to Chair one of the panels of judges and see for myself how much the teams had progressed in such a short period. Congratulations to Alcoa and to all the teams that took part.”
For further information about the winners of the competition, please see here
The University held its first ‘Enterprise Exchange’ panel event in association with UMIP’s recently launched Innovation Optimiser on 9th December at its Innovation Centre on Grafton Street.
Increasingly academic staff are encouraged to create new businesses and to secure economic and societal impact from University research. However, balancing this commercial activity with the multiple demands of an academic career can be challenging.
In this inaugural ‘Enterprise Exchange’ event, a panel of academic entrepreneurs recounted their own experiences in striking this balance, and debated their conclusions with the audience.
The panel members covered the spectrum of start-ups from preformation through to recently spun-out and established companies thereby enabling the audience to appreciate the full entrepreneurial journey from differing viewpoints.
On the panel were: Dr Stephen Franklin, founder and chief executive of Evgen Pharma, a clinical stage drug development company focused on cancer and neurological disease; Professor Geoff Parker of Bioxydyn, an established University of Manchester spin-out, providing ground-breaking MRI applications and imaging CRO services; Professor Shôn Lewis developing Clintouch – a mobile assessment technology for schizophrenia which will be a social enterprise.
The panel was chaired by Professor Graham Boulnois, a senior academic who switched to industry and later became a successful venture capitalist at SVLS.
Dr Curtis Dobson, academic entrepreneur and chairman of Microbiosensor Ltd, commented: “This exciting series of events has been designed to provide a means to exchange views on key subjects of interest to potential academic entrepreneurs. We’re beginning with the topic most commonly raised, namely how to find time for commercialisation alongside all the other demands of an academic day job.”
Tony Walker, Director of Innovation Optimiser UMIP, added: “This was a fitting event to announce our Innovation Optimiser support for aspiring innovators wishing to develop a spin out or start up business. Judging from the attendance and number of audience questions, it’s an area many more academics and research students are becoming switched onto. The panel gave a great case for the benefits of taking a venture forwards and we are pleased that we now have a specific set of Roadmap workshops that people can attend to help shape and grow their venture.”
The Panel from l to r: Dr Steve Franklin, Professor Shôn Lewis, Professor Geoff Parker and Professor Graham Boulnois
UMIP’s Tony Walker presenting the Innovation Optimiser
Following the success of the Making a Difference Awards for social responsibility in 2015, the Making a Difference Awards 2016 have now been launched.
The Making a Difference Awards recognise and celebrate the many different types of social responsibility achievements of the University’s academic and professional support staff, students and alumni.
Culminating in a major awards ceremony hosted by the President and Vice-Chancellor in May 2016, the awards will celebrate and raise awareness of how individuals and teams across the University are making a difference to the social and environmental wellbeing of our communities and wider society.
The awards cover a wide range of contributions to the University’s social responsibility strategy and include categories such as sustainability, pubic engagement, teaching innovation, research impact, inspiring communities, widening participation, responsible processes and equality and diversity.
Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell said: “I would encourage everyone in our University community who is making a positive contribution to society to consider entering these awards as this will raise the profile of your work and communicate and enhance its impact.”
The deadline for entries is 1 February 2016.
- Candidates can self-nominate or be nominated by a third party.
- Individuals and teams can enter.
Find out more:
The Faculty of Life Sciences’ Dr David Brough has won the Promising Technologist of the Year Award, amidst fierce competition within his category, at the 14th Northwest Biomedical Awards at the Mere Golf and Country Club in November. The prestigious awards dinner, attended by over 360 people from the North of England’s biomedical sector, celebrates key achievements from companies and individuals who have made a significant contribution to the sector during 2015.
Dr David Brough receives the award from Dr Beverly Taylor, Head of Technology and Scientific Affairs at Seqirus.
David has spent the last seven years leading a research programme at the University uncovering the biological mechanisms that control the inflammasome and its implication in diseases as wide ranging as psoriasis, stroke and Alzheimer’s. He is heavily involved in inspiring the next generation of scientists through mentoring and teaching and has also driven the translation of his research findings into the commercial arena.
The NLRP3 Inflammasome was discovered relatively recently as a key controller of IL1b regulation and in a short period of time has become one of the most promising targets for a number of important indications. David is driving the translation of his research findings of a new class of potential therapeutics specifically targeting NLRP3 and applying this to CNS inflammation and Alzheimer’s disease. His work has led to a recently patented class of compounds that enables specific control of IL1b release. This novel chemistry, along with an encouraging safety profile, has the potential to address a number of important clinical needs.
David has demonstrated the specificity of his approach and is in the process of validating it at the pre-clinical level. This puts him and his team at the forefront of the efforts for NLRP3 inflammasome inhibitors development and will position the opportunity ideally for commercial adoption. Based on these early results, David has led commercial discussions with a number of pharmaceutical partners, charities and investors and is currently in discussions to explore the set-up of a company vehicle to take this technology forward.
David comments: “I was delighted to accept this award on behalf of our team in the brain inflammation group and in the School of Pharmacy. We now know that the process of inflammation contributes to the worsening of neurodegenerative disease. Our goal is to understand the biology of inflammation, and through improved understanding, develop new ways to target disease causing mechanisms.”
Dr Arnaud Garçon, UMIP New Projects Team leader, added: ”David is a well-deserving recipient of this award. He and his team have been conducting ground-breaking research in an exciting area and are now translating those into therapeutic opportunities to address a range of important clinical needs. Along with UMIP’s continuous support, we hope this award will be the catalyst to accelerating the delivery of commercial value and patient benefits.”
University spin-out, Manchester Imaging Ltd, was a finalist for Start-up of the Year for their innovative computer-aided diagnostic imaging to support dental healthcare professionals and their patients.
For the full list of winners, please see http://www.bionow.co.uk/news/the14thbionowannualawardssuccessfullyshowcas.aspx