Timothy O’Neil-Dunne picking up the 2016 WITovation Editor’s Choice Award in Singapore
A Manchester-based company, which has brought groundbreaking technology to the airline industry, is on track to become a £500 million company in five years’ time.
Air Black Box is the only internet booking engine on the planet that focuses on helping airlines and airports connect seamlessly and cost-effectively.
Founded four years ago by Timothy O’Neil-Dunne and Paul Addy, it has been credited with providing the software that made newly formed airline alliances like Asia’s Value Alliance – made up of Cebu Pacific, JejuAir, Nok, NokScoot, Scoot, Tigerair Australia and Tigerair Singapore and Vanilla Air – a reality.
Customers can view, select and book the best-available airfares on flights from any of the airlines in a single transaction, directly from each partner website, thanks to Air Black Box’s (ABB) technology. This means more destinations, more routing options and greater convenience for customers of each airline.
The company, which has grown its headcount from five to 40 in just two years and has offices in the US and Singapore, is headquartered at The University of Manchester Innovation Centre’s (UMIC) North Campus Incubator. UMIC is a division of the University’s Innovation Company, UMI3 Ltd.
ABB bosses O’Neil-Dunne and Addy said the company, which has multiple patents pending on its technology, is close to signing up more airlines as users.
“Essentially, we have developed an interface which enables airlines to network better so they can sell onward flights to smaller destinations as part of one ticket,” said O’Neil-Dunne, who recently picked up the 2016 WITovation Editor’s Choice Award in Singapore.
“There’s one point of purchase in any number of currencies and a single itinerary encompasses tickets and ticketless bookings issued simultaneously on cooperating airlines.
“Our technology is the right technology for the right time, and there’s nothing else like it.
“We have, if you will, re-imagined the process of airline retailing, starting with the most difficult of all airline products: interlining and multi-carrier connectivity.”
O’Neil-Dunne said that since signing its first clients earlier this year, ‘Air Black Box has established absolute market leadership’ with a series of B2B and B2C tools and platform that provide its airlines’ clients with efficiencies and cost benefits that were simply not available until now.
ABB client, Value Alliance airlines, which boasts a collective fleet of 176 aircraft across the Asia Pacific region and serves more than 160 destinations, have strengthened distribution in their non-home markets, expanded their saleable networks via the provision of interline itineraries, retained their ancillary revenue opportunities and now offer their customers a better, one-stop-shop experience.
Now recruiting one person a week to cope with the number of airlines wanting to use its technology, ABB recently announced a joint venture with Singapore Airlines and has been nominated for another leading airline industry award.
O’Neil-Dunne said: “Tony Walker, the director of UMIP’s Innovation Optimiser initiative, was instrumental in helping us to set up as a commercial company and has supported us ever since.
“We are also working with the Alliance Manchester Business School on an international business project which is very exciting.”
He added: “We feel that the number of airlines that have committed to using the Air Black Box platform is a testament to its utility.
“The airlines ability to form these alliances means that a small or regional or low-cost carrier can very quickly grow its market footprint and become part of a much larger network of interconnected and cooperating carriers.”
More than 80 University of Manchester academics and students have so far been referred to take part in a 12-month pilot programme designed to help them turn start-up or social enterprise ideas into reality.
The Innovation Optimiser, developed by UMIP, to complement its IP Commercialisation activity, encourages and inspires more people to turn science-based research into successful commercial businesses.
As part of the Innovation Optimiser process, staff and students sign up to the signature workshop programme Roadmap.
So far 18 of the 80 ‘trainee entrepreneurs’ referred have expressed interest in developing a start-up, after completing the scheme.
Tony Walker, Director of the Innovation Optimiser, said external start-up experts such as Ian Brookes of DNAPeople and communication expert – and onetime standup comedian – Ashley Boroda have been integral to the programme so far.
He said: “We are delighted that the Innovation Optimiser has successfully completed its first pilot year.
“We introduced the concept to encourage and inspire more people to turn their ideas into reality and are working closely with Manchester Enterprise Centre supporting student entrepreneurs.
“Academic, staff and research student innovators can have a profound impact on society and we’re privileged to work with them to bring their ideas to fruition.”
He added: “We have communication expert Ashley Boroda on board, who teaches people how to articulate their ideas and communicate them in a fun way.
“That helps the whole process become a blended learning experience as it improves the individuals’ ideas and helps them develop skills as well. You no doubt know every part of your project and business, but sometimes, being able to explain it in layman’s terms to people who are non-technical, is the hardest part.”
The programme – which has just seen a fresh batch of students and academics enroll on it – also features a series of half-day workshops over five months covering everything from balancing academia and entrepreneurship to launching an enterprise.
Tony believes it’s increasingly important that research students have the ability to develop their own business, and be more entrepreneurial with science.
He also said he’s tried to build the scheme ‘with a particular Manchester outcome in mind’.
“We are very happy that 80 people engaged with the programme in its first year,” he said.“Maximum Wind Ltd, ViewitUK Ltd and Affigo C.I.C are some of the success stories so far.
“Two postgraduates started Maximum Wind, which estimates the best place to put wind turbines to maximise their use. ViewitUK focusses on healthcare in a better and more meaningful way allowing users to map and monitor whether treatment is effective in areas like alcoholism, gambling and drugs.
“Affigo is an app that helps people with mental health problems gain a clear indication of how they are feeling. It can also help health professionals. It aims to prevent relapse by tracking people’s mood.”
He added: “All the businesses that push on to the next level are often helped by an external entrepreneur, some of whom become collective shareholders in the businesses they help.
“All of it is helping us as there’s a wave of researchers, staff and students wanting to be entrepreneurs and masters of their own destiny or aiming to push their research into practical impact. We want more people to keep coming in to the programme now, as those people who progress are the ones who drive growth in the city by creating jobs and making social change for good.
“We will continue to do what we are good at, which is looking at the idea, assessing it and seeing if it’s got commercial or social potential and adding value to that.
“We will look to engage with 100 people over the next 12 months. To me though it’s more about developing the right individuals who can create long term outcomes from our fantastic research base.”
Left to Right; Tony Walker, Ian Brookes and Innovation Optimiser Roadmap attendees 2016
F901318 represents a novel class of antifungal drug, the orotomides
Currently in clinical development for the treatment of invasive aspergillosis
MANCHESTER, UK – 26 October 2016 – F2G Ltd, the UK-based antifungal drug discovery and development company, today announced the publication of the initial F901318 data in the prestigious scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), of their work in elucidating the mechanism of action of its novel orotomide antifungal – lead candidate F901318. The study entitled “F901318 represents a novel class of antifungal drug that inhibits dihydroorotate dehydrogenase” can be found here: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2016/10/24/1608304113.abstract
The identification of dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH) as the mechanism by which F901318 inhibits and kills Aspergillus fumigatus was a major breakthrough differentiating F901318 from all other systemic antifungal agents. DHODH represents one of only a handful of clinically validated antifungal drug targets. The paper describes the genetic and biochemical techniques used to identify and conclusively confirm DHODH as the target of F901318 and also the in vivo activity of the drug in severe infection models.
Aspergillosis is a serious pulmonary infection caused by Aspergillus, a common fungus that affects people with weakened immune systems or lung diseases. Due to its novel mechanism of action, F901318 is active against drug resistant Aspergillus species and other rare moulds offering potentially life-saving therapy options.
Dr Jason Oliver, Lead author and Head of Biochemistry, F2G Ltd said: “We are delighted that PNAS recognised the importance of our work in the identification and validation of DHODH as an antifungal target. New antifungal drugs that act via novel mechanisms are urgently needed to combat the high mortality of invasive fungal disease and the emergence of resistance to existing therapies. We are focussed on exploiting DHODH fully to develop the next generation of systemic antifungals.”
Ian Nicholson, Chief Executive Officer, F2G Ltd added: “The antifungal pipeline has failed to produce new antifungal drugs with mechanisms of action different from those of existing classes in the past 15 years since caspofungin was licensed in 2001. F901318 is active against drug resistant Aspergillus species and other rare moulds offering potentially life-saving therapy options. We are thrilled that the hard work and dedication of Jason and his team has resulted in this publication in such a leading peer reviewed international journal.”
F2G plans to advance its lead compound, F901318 to completion of a pivotal registration study, and to further develop earlier stage assets in its pipeline.
About F2G Ltd: F2G is a world leading UK biotech company focused on the discovery and development of novel therapies to treat life threatening invasive fungal infections, with experienced management & board. F2G has discovered and developed a completely new class of antifungal agents called the orotomides. The orotomides are active against Aspergillus and other rare and resistant moulds and act via a completely different mechanism than currently marketed antifungal agents. Due to their new mechanism of action, orotomides are active against fungal infections resistant to current therapies, a growing problem globally. A limited Phase II study for F901318 is planned imminently with pivotal registration trials in Invasive Aspergillosis planned for 2017 based on an accelerated regulatory pathway agreed with the relevant agencies. F901318 is being developed both as IV and oral formulations and promises to have a safe and well-tolerated profile. The company recently announced a $60 million financing to develop its pipeline of novel therapies to treat life threatening invasive fungal infections.
Ian Nicholson | Chief Executive Officer
email@example.com | +44 (0)161 785 1271 | www.f2g.com
Mary Clark, Supriya Mathur, Alex Protsenko
firstname.lastname@example.org | +44 (0)207 862 6475
The Fellows Team
Our Fellows programme is modelled on the similar, highly successful Columbia Fellows Programme run at Columbia University in New York and offers a unique opportunity for full-time postgraduate students registered at the University to gain in-depth experience in technology commercialisation activities.
For 2016/17, we have just recruited 10 UMIP Fellows from across the University who will work with our Commercialisation Executives on a part-time paid basis.
A Training Day was held on 26th September at our Innovation Centre to introduce our new Fellows to the skills needed to undertake a variety of assignments to support UMIP’s activities. These include completing initial assessments of the commercial viability of new inventions, including how to identify potential applications and competitors, development of marketing materials for technologies, creating lists of companies for potential collaboration or licensing and analysis of patent literature. Fellows will also have access to and support from the team at the Manchester Enterprise Centre during the one-year term of their appointment.
Tony Walker, Director of Innovation Optimiser at UMIP, commented: “It is great to get so much interest in the Fellows Programme and enthusiasm from students here. The benefits to both students and UMIP have clearly been demonstrated over the past three years. For UMIP, the Fellows provided valuable start-points for our detailed analysis of the commercial potential of new invention disclosures collected in the year, and for our promotion of technology externally. I would like to thank the Manchester Enterprise Centre for their close involvement and support of the UMIP Fellows Programme.”
Dr Martin Henery, Enterprise Academic / Lecturer & Social Enterprise Champion at Manchester Enterprise Centre, commented:” It is very exciting to see the UMIP Fellows Programme entering a fourth year and enabling students interested in enterprise to get hands-on experience of real technology commercialisation cases.”
For additional information about our Fellow Programme, please contact: Margaret Lewis on 0161 306 3067 or email@example.com.
The University of Manchester has climbed to 87th place in the world in this year’s Reuters Top 100 Most Innovative Universities as a result of the high commercial impact of its patents, and is 17th in Europe and 4th in the UK.
This is the second year of the Reuter’s list, which is once again topped by Stanford University in the United States. Manchester is one of only five UK universities to make the top 100 and has moved up from 95th in 2015.
The profile of Manchester on the Reuters site refers to the University’s impressive record of establishing more than 100 spin-out companies including Clin-E-Cal, which has created an interactive app to aid children with asthma breathe more easily, and Spectromics, which is developing an innovative point-of-prescription test for bacterial infections which guides the treatment of antibiotics.
The ranking is also based on the number of citations of papers in patents, to introduce a quality rather than a volume measure, with one strategic patenting area, graphene, which earned the University’s discoverers Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010, referred to as a major breakthrough.
The University’s National Graphene Institute is now accelerating the process of using the wonder-material in real-world technologies such as energy efficient batteries and water desalination. The University is now building a Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre.
Clive Rowland, CEO of UMI3 Ltd, The University of Manchester’s Innovation Company, commented: “the University continues to promote its long standing commitment to improving society through innovation, whether such positive impacts are achieved by our social enterprises or for commercial gain through our spin-out company and technology licensing work. We recognise that to be an innovative organisation we need to look for quality as well as volume with our patenting. It’s pleasing to see that our results focussed approach and continuous improvement in our way of working, that we introduced some time ago, is having an effect as shown by our upward movement in this index. The difference between us and those towards the top of the table, in respect of the impact measure, is narrowing too.”
Manchester’s placing on the Reuters rankings is one of a number of strong showings in international university league tables of late. This includes a highest ever place of 29th in the respected QS World University Rankings and another all-time high of 35th in the ‘Academic Ranking of World Universities’ table.
The full Reuters ranking is available here: http://www.reuters.com/article/amers-reuters-ranking-innovative-univers-idUSL2N1C406D