With Fotenix’s technology, producers and agronomists can identify plant characteristics earlier in the season, well before they become visible to even the sharpest agricultural eye.
Dr Charles Vey
University of Manchester spin-out Fotenix is eyeing growth after launching earlier this year. Co-founded by Professor Bruce Grieve, Director of e-Agri Sensors Centre at the University, and Dr Charles Veys, the company offers a new online crop analysis tool, that aims to help improve yield quality and shelf life significantly.
Fotenix’s technology is the result of four years of hard work that Veys carried out during his PhD at the e-Agri Sensors Centre in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.
Veys describes his technology as a modern M.O.T for crops, following recent research field trips to Canada, China and multiple European countries.
“Our technology looks at the ripeness of fruits on the plants,” said Veys. “Fotenix’s ultimate aim is to increase efficiency in the agri-food industry across the world.
“We want to instil sustainable models, rather than intensive models which is an industry drive.”
He added: “With our technology, producers and agronomists can identify plant characteristics earlier in the season, well before they become visible to even the sharpest agricultural eye.”
“This real-time information means that appropriate action can be made sooner and better informed, particularly when paired with the latest machinery – a huge advantage that will improve agricultural production efficiency and reduce its environmental footprint.”
“Essentially, it’s a lifeline for the producer in realising what level the crop is at, and when to act.”
Fotenix, based at The University of Manchester Innovation Centre (UMIC), is now on the brink of scaling up operations and is looking to increase headcount.
Veys, also a food editor for a small independent magazine in Manchester, has been supported by the University’s Innovation Company, UMI3 Ltd, and its Innovation Optimiser initiative during his leap from the academic to the commercial world.
“When you spend four years on something you don’t want to just stop and park that on a shelf,” said Veys.
“I wanted to get it all out there and get my technology working in the field and we are getting closer to achieving that with each day that passes.”
He added: “Our work with the patent office is ongoing and we have received early-stage funding from The University of Manchester as well as lining up VCs for the next stage of seed funding.
“Being someone who is used to the technical arena and moving into the commercial arena has been quite a challenge. As you are suddenly in China, Canada and other countries on the ground while also going out and meeting with software developers and machine manufacturers.”
“But that’s been very enjoyable, and become the next stage of education for me, and Fotenix is very close to becoming a scalable operation.
“Our aim is to soon be an OEM supplier to large farming manufacturers, looking to enhance their product offer. The industry has previous for this and it allows us to concentrate on what we are good at.”
“At present the large manufacturers use cameras on field machinery to look identify areas to apply fertiliser or herbicide and even when to harvest horticultural produce.”
“Our idea is to enhance this with our technology. We look at many different colours beyond the human eye – in some ways similar to night vision but with more colour.
For further information about Fotenix, please visit www.fotenix.tech
We are looking for innovations from entrepreneurial academics, staff and post-doctoral researchers from across The University of Manchester to create new spin-out businesses. There are three prizes of £10K to win!
Your innovation could be based on existing research, an idea outside of this agenda or one based on multi/interdisciplinary research. You can enter as an individual or a team, especially if your idea involves different research skills. We’ll also help you to pitch for further investment. Runners-up are also supported.
Entering is easy. Just describe your innovation and its potential as a business in a two minute video pitch and send it to us at: email@example.com. Applications close Friday 30th November 2018.
For further details and for tips on how to communicate your innovation including a short video interview with one of last year’s winners, please see https://umip.com/the-next-big-thing-competition
Start-up anticipates finals
Following a successful pitch at the Pitch@Palace 10.0 Boot Camp held on 3rd October at the Judge Business School, Cambridge, University start-up company, Third Floor Systems Ltd, will now compete alongside 41 other entrepreneurs in the final at Buckingham Palace on the 8th November 2018.
Pitch@Palace was founded by The Duke of York in 2014 as a platform to amplify and accelerate the work of Entrepreneurs. Pitch@Palace 10.0 returns to a broad technology theme showcasing companies that have developed innovative technologies across a wide range of areas including Biotech and Medical Technology, Consumer Technology and Internet of Things, Industrial Technology and AI and Robotics.
Third Floor Systems (www.thirdfloor.ltd) was selected from among hundreds of applicants to take part in Pitch@Palace 10.0. The company is supported by our Innovation Optimiser Programme which empowers innovators from across the University to create start-up businesses.
Formed in 2017, the company develops and distributes StudentCRT, a software system for University staff that uses several types of student engagement data to quickly identify students who may be struggling with their mental health. Support and pastoral staff can then personally follow-up with those students before matters escalate for them. StudentCRT has been used in the School of Physics for 2 years and in the School of Mechanical Engineering (MACE) since January 2018. In both Schools the effect on our ability to identify potentially at-risk students and to support them through times of difficulty has been profound.
Dr Andrew Markwick, University of Manchester Lecturer and Founder of Third Floor Systems said: “We wanted to be sure we were doing the best we could to protect our students using the information we collect about them anyway, that’s why we created StudentCRT.”
Pitch@Palace provides Entrepreneurs with the chance to hear from leading industry experts and Pitch@Palace Alumni, as well as receiving support and mentoring. All are asked to Pitch their business to a panel of Judges, as well as senior business leaders, investors, and influencers from across the technology, investment and business communities.
At Buckingham Palace, the Pitch@Palace 10.0 winner and runners up will be selected from among the 42 companies by the Audience vote. All 42 Entrepreneurs will also take part in the Pitch@Palace People’s Choice Award, at peopleschoice.pitchatpalace.com. The Pitch@Palace People’s Choice Award Winner will also be named on 8 November, as voted for by the public.
Alderley Park, UK – 3rd October 2018. Clin-e-cal, an innovative digital health company, today announced the completion of a new funding round to expand its development of a fundamentally new approach to training and compliance in respiratory medicine. The funding came from the GM&C Life Sciences Fund, managed by Catapult Ventures.
Clin-e-cal are developing several mobile applications in partnership with pharmaceutical and medical device companies to improve inhaler technique and medication compliance, both well-recognized needs within the respiratory field. Using its patent-pending Tone Analysis technology, the company’s first product, Rafi-Tone, uses gamification techniques to help young children take their medication more effectively.
Clin-e-cal was founded by clinical academic Tariq Aslam, in response to his own son’s breathing problems and his resistance to using his inhaler. The company is a spin-out from The University of Manchester (through its agent for IP commercialisation UMI3 Ltd) and the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust and maintains strong links to the clinical and academic communities.
Clin-e-cal CEO, Dr Lizzie Crawford, said “We are delighted to have closed this investment and are excited to be able to expand Clin-e-cal by further investing in our partnerships and R+D to maximise the value of our innovative approach addressing significant problems in the management of respiratory disease.”
Dr Vijay Barathan, Life Science Partner, said “We are looking forward to working with the team to advance their portfolio of innovate digital health respiratory applications. Their first product is a great example of how significant medical issues can be solved through the digitization of healthcare.”
Chris Spencer, Digital Health Venture Partner at Catapult and newly appointed Chairman of Clin-e-cal, said “Respiratory disease causes an immense worldwide health burden. For example, as long ago as 2013, the World Health Organisation estimated that 235m people suffered from asthma. I’m privileged to have been asked to assist Clin-e-cal as it helps others better manage their treatment and conditions.”
Dr Vijay Barathan, Life Science Partner
T: 01625 344300 M: 07832 350820
Investors meet University of Manchester academic entrepreneurs
On 3rd October UMI3 Ltd held an investor day with Catapult Ventures, who manage the Greater Manchester & Cheshire Life Sciences Fund, to hear from the CEOs of two of their portfolio companies and to showcase a selection of early-stage University spin-out propositions. The event took place at the University’s Innovation Centre (UMIC) on Grafton Street.
After an introduction to the Catapult Ventures Team by Dr Vijay Barathan and a presentation on early-stage venture capital funding to an invited audience of 50, we had the chance to hear first-hand from the CEOs of two University spin-outs in the Catapult GM&C Life Sciences Portfolio: Tony Travers from Manchester Imaging Ltd and Dr Elizabeth Crawford from Clin-e-cal, finishing with an interactive Q&A session.
This was followed by an Entrepreneurs Showcase Session where five life sciences propositions, who are looking for funding, presented their business cases to Catapult Ventures in an open pitch session, with a prize awarded for the best idea & delivery.
Presenting were BactiFlocc (Dr Kate Thompson), Ab-Nomics (Professor Ian Hampson), Quantima (Dr Hojjat Azadbakht), ManTRa (Dr Darren Roberts) and Complement Therapeutics (Dr Simon Clark).
The winner was announced by Catapult Ventures’ Dr Gareth King during networking and refreshments which took place in UMIC’s newly opened Core Technology Facility Atrium.
Drs Simon Clarke and Gareth King
Complement Therapeutics’ Dr Simon Clark received the prize of 6 months office space for two people in UMIC’s new state of the art co-working area.
Dr Simon Clark comments: “This is a huge honour and great surprise! Getting feedback from the audience and the team from Catapult Ventures was very helpful. Some really useful ideas were raised and will certainly change the way we move forward.”
Dr Vijay Barathan, Life Science Partner with Catapult Ventures, said: “We were delighted to work with UMIP to put this event together and thank them for the effort taken into organising the day. The Catapult team were delighted with the quality of the presentations and the level of engagement of the audience.”
Yvonne Loughlin, Head of UMIC, comments: “I am excited to have Complement Therapeutics as the first tenant in our modern bespoke shared working facility and I hope that the support and guidance provided in an area designed to encourage collaboration and networking will help ensure a successful future for them. Simon’s was confident and engaging simplifying and explaining the concept perfectly he was a worthy winner. I look forward to being involved with future competitions and ensuring continued support for North West start-ups and entrepreneurs.”