Andrew Wilkinson has been appointed Chief Executive of The University of Manchester’s intellectual property commercialisation company, UMI3, with an ambition to make it a global leader for turning academic ideas into enterprises with a social and economic impact.
An alumnus of the University, Andrew is a successful CEO and Managing Director with extensive experience growing international technology companies. He spent many years leading complex, multi-national businesses, operating across a wide range of sectors. He specialises in the industrialisation and commercialisation of innovative technologies, business growth and turn-around.
Andrew said: “My focus will be on accelerating the number and value of high-quality spin-outs and IP licencing deals coming out of the University. I want my team to engage even more closely with academic colleagues, industry, the investment community, funding organisations and government. My goal is to make The University of Manchester a global centre of excellence for technology transfer.”
Andrew joined The University of Manchester in mid-2016 as CEO of its subsidiary company Graphene Enabled Systems Ltd (GES). The GES organisation supports the development and launch of new spin-out businesses which use graphene and 2D materials to enhance the performance of their products. GES has supported the creation of several University spin-outs including Grafine, Atomic Mechanics, Graphene Water Technologies, Laser Graphene and a new business manufacturing a sensitive, chip-based ‘electronic nose’ to sniff the air for VOC compounds. GES is also actively creating an exciting partnership with a global environmental consultancy to industrialise and commercialise a new family of hybrid graphene-enhanced composite materials.
Before joining GES, Andrew was Regional Managing Director of the French power equipment manufacturer Socomec SA. At Socomec, Andrew led three subsidiaries covering North America and the British Isles, where he significantly grew the businesses’ revenue, profitability and market share.
Prior to this, he was Sales and Marketing Director of a group business of ICI plc, which manufactured a broad range of industrial and consumer products based on coated and thermally stabilised PET film. At ICI, Andrew and his teams developed and launched to a worldwide customer-base many new, innovative products in markets as diverse as digital imaging, security ID, printable electronics, 3D industrial decoration, fuel cells and medical diagnostics. He also negotiated large licencing deals with major global OEMs.
Andrew added: “I’m greatly looking forward to my new role and understand the importance that IP commercialisation plays in enabling the University to meet its strategic objectives.
“The launch of successful University spin-out business and the licencing of University IP creates significant economic and social impact. Building on the excellent work that UMI3 has already achieved, I intend to evolve the organisation to meet the opportunities and challenges the University will face in the coming years.”
Andrew will take over from the organisation’s current CEO, Clive Rowland. Clive has been appointed as the University’s Associate Vice-President for Intellectual Property Matters. The new role will take effect in January 2019. He will work closely with Professor Luke Georghiou, Deputy President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, and other senior colleagues, to inform and advise on IP policy, IP good practice and benchmarking; IP aspects of strategic alliances and contracts; and Clive will also act as an IP ambassador for the University.
Professor Luke Georghiou, who is also a non-executive director of UMI3, said: “Andrew has a strong track record of developing hugely successful spin-out companies from some of the world-class research carried out by our academics. He will be an important driving force in effecting the step-change we are planning, to create the economic impact, jobs and social benefits which are an important contribution from the University to our city and nation.”
Gelmetix continues to grow thanks to investment, certification and pipeline products.
Dr Philippe Jenny
University of Manchester spin-out Gelmetix Ltd has raised £1.2 million in funding to help develop non-surgical treatment for chronic lower back pain.
The company, which was founded on the back of discoveries made at the University, has had a primary focus on the development of a revolutionary, non-surgical, gel-based treatment for chronic lower back over the past 15 years.
Gelmetix secured the funding on crowdfunding website SyndicateRoom and has created a non-invasive injectable microgel as a cost-effective alternative to surgery.
Gelmetix CEO Dr Philippe Jenny said the high-tech gel can be delivered via a non-invasive procedure into the gaps left by degenerating discs to help restore functionality and relieve lower back pain.
Despite innovation-related technical hurdles, the gel has now been fully validated for human application and a unique manufacturing process has been designed to produce the gel to scale with all the required quality and regulatory assurance.
The company has obtained a Medical Device Manufacturer ISO certification and is currently in discussion with the MHRA and the FDA.
Whilst the company’s initial product for the spine is anticipated to enter first-in-man clinical trials in the first quarter of 2019, a second product is being developed to address pain and loss of mobility in osteoarthritic small joints.
Additionally, at the end of July 2018, Gelmetix entered into an agreement with a Portuguese company to further develop a third gel, which is intended to contribute to the repair of cartilage damages in the knee joint. This unique gel adheres to the cartilage and helps cells to repair the deficit.
Dr Philippe Jenny commented: “The signing of this Agreement is a great step forward as it provides the company with a portfolio of minimally invasive solutions. These fill a gap in the continuum of care and will treat numerous patients suffering from pain in the joints or back due to the most common incapacitating diseases: joint and back degeneration and osteoarthritis.”
Professor Tony Freemont, Director of MMPathIC (Manchester Molecular Pathology Innovation Centre), an MRC/EPSRC Molecular Pathology node funded with £2.9M to translate novel medical technology discoveries into use within the NHS, and Founder and Board Member of Gelexir, has hailed the treatment’s potential significance for back pain and OA sufferers.
He said: “It has taken nearly 15 years of basic research and translational development to reach this point. It is so exciting to see this completely novel approach to treatment pass through all the regulatory processes and reach a point where we can evaluate it in patients with debilitating back pain, for whom there is no other hope for pain relief. The development of this product, and the work of MMPathIC are just two ways in which The University of Manchester is working towards improving patient lives through research.”
Additionally, the therapeutic biomaterial company recently rebranded its corporate name from Gelexir Healthcare Ltd to Gelmetix Ltd, to reflect the new multi-product positioning and strategy of the company (www.gelmetix.com).
The FBMH Fellowship Academy are hosting a North West roadshow information event on behalf of the NIHR Trainees Coordinating Centre, to:
* help communicate upcoming changes to NIHR Training Programmes and the forthcoming establishment of the NIHR Academy, and
* support potential North West applicants to NIHR Fellowship schemes.
2.15-2.30pm: Registration, Tea/coffee
2.30-3.15pm: Update on NIHR Academy changes
An open session to update on NIHR Academy changes, including to programmes and the application process
3.15-4.30pm: Application support
Support for potential UoM fellowship applicants to NIHR schemes. This session will be divided into group sessions.
Canapes and drinks.
Article and photograph kindly provided by Tunghsu Optoelectronic
On the evening of November 11, Tunghsu Optoelectronic announced that it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding cooperation with The University of Manchester (hereinafter referred to as “Manchester”) and UG2M (hereinafter referred to as “UG2M”). This Memorandum of Understanding relates to opportunities for Tunghsu Optoelectronic to develop, manufacture and successfully commercialise graphene applications and other technologies developed at and by The University of Manchester.
It is understood that the University’s selection criteria for partners is very strict. Tunghsu Optoelectronic, as the leading enterprise in China’s graphene industry, will become one of the most important global partners in the field of graphene after the signing of the memorandum.
Wang Lipeng, chairman of Tunghsu Optoelectronic, took a group photo with Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President of the University
Cooperation from R&D to critical applications
Wang Lipeng, chairman of Tunghsu Optoelectronic, and his delegation went to the UK to sign the MoU. They were warmly welcomed by Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President of The University of Manchester, and Professor Luke Georghiou, Deputy President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester. They also organised separate meetings, signed memoranda, and discussed the current situation and future development direction of basic research, industrialisation and application of graphene between the two parties. The University expressed its positive attitude towards cooperation with Tunghsu Optoelectronic, and said that it attached great importance to the company as the leading graphene enterprise in China in the promotion of basic graphene research and the implementation of industrialisation. It also expressed confidence in the development of China’s graphene market.
Dr. Feng Weidong, Vice President of Tunghsu Optoelectronic and President of the Graphene Business Department, told reporters that Tunghsu Optoelectronic will organise and launch a new round of “attack” in graphene business more openly. This “openness” includes not only domestic but also overseas. Tunghsu Optoelectronic will focus on the cooperative research and development of advanced graphene technology in order to build a new key graphene product system. Through cooperation with The University of Manchester and previous cooperation with Catalonia Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2) of Spain, Tsinghua University of China, Beijing University of Technology and other research institutions, the company has established extensive and in-depth contacts with many well-known graphene research institutes and enterprises at home and abroad, forming a good relationship and made the combination of production, teaching and research, and internationalisation, but is just the beginning.
In addition, Tunghsu Optoelectronic also visited the National Graphene Institute (NGI) located on the campus of The University of Manchester and the newly established Graphene Engineering Innovation Center (GEIC), which aims at supporting enterprises to realise the rapid industrialisation of graphene with the University’s comprehensive scientific research strength. Afterwards whilst visiting Graphene Enabled Systems Ltd a University-owned subsidiary and The University of Manchester Intellectual Property division (UMIP), the delegation viewed new graphene technologies, and had detailed discussions with each project’s scientists on the side of technology itself and its market opportunities. Dr. Feng Weidong was deeply impressed by such projects as ultra-sensitive suspended graphene electronic nose, laser printing graphene and graphene water treatment technology, and highly appraised the research and development environment as well as the equipment level of The University of Manchester in the area of graphene.
He thought that The University of Manchester has a perfect system and leading ideas in graphene basic research, technology application, project industrialisation path construction and support, and he believes that the cooperation between the two sides will yield fruitful results by focusing on specific projects, strengthening R&D interaction and giving full play to the advantages of Tunghsu Optoelectronic in China’s market industrialisation.
The University of Manchester is the birthplace of graphene and the leading research centre of graphene in the world. It enjoys a high reputation in the field of basic research and industrial application of graphene in the world. In 2004, its two physicists Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov first separated and tested graphene materials with a thickness of only one atom, and won the Nobel Prize in Physics. President Xi Jinping visited the National Graphene Institute of The University of Manchester in 2015 and pointed out that China and Britain could achieve a “strong alliance” in the field of graphene research.
UG2M is the University’s direct shareholding company in the Asia-Pacific region responsible for the industrialisation of graphene and two-dimensional materials projects. It is also a reasonable channel for the University to integrate graphene-related patented technology with Chinese enterprise projects in China. Mr. Ronald Kong, director of UG2M, proudly calls himself “the bridge between The University of Manchester and Tunghsu Optoelectronic”. He believes that the cooperation between the University and Tunghsu Optoelectronic is of historic significance: “The industrialisation ability of scientific and technological projects and the huge domestic market are the advantages of Chinese enterprises. Through this cooperation, Tunghsu Optoelectronic and the University will cooperate with each other. We will form a benign and complementary cooperation mechanism, and use University’s resources as a solid theoretical basis and a solid research and development backing for its future development in the graphene industry.
As one of the earliest enterprises in the field of graphene in China, Tunghsu Optoelectronic has become the leading enterprise in the industrialisation and application of graphene in China. Four series of products, graphene-based lithium-ion batteries, graphene energy-saving lighting, graphene thermal management and graphene anticorrosive coatings, have been constructed and filled in many fields at home and abroad.
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