Investors, industry representatives and entrepreneurial academics among the 100 plus people in attendance
“Through collaboration, through partnership – and with investment and strong links to industry – only good things happen”. So says Dr Martino Picardo who facilitated discussion and interaction throughout the successful day long Innovation Showcase held on Wednesday 3rd April at The University of Manchester Innovation Centre, UMIC.
From l to r; Mark Dearden, Paul Bishop, Alex Casson, Curtis Dobson, Martino Picardo
Over 100 people came together – from an invited audience of entrepreneurial academics, investors and industry representatives – to learn more about developments at the University in Vision Sciences, Bioelectronics and MedTech. There were demonstrations of new technologies, tours of MedTech laboratories, presentations by researchers and budding entrepreneurs as well as roundtable discussions and networking with the University’s technology transfer company, UMI3.
Curtis Dobson, Professor of Translational Biology at the University commented: “The University of Manchester carries out an astonishingly broad programme of research, with numerous world renowned teams eager to help companies pursue their R&D goals.
“Events like the Innovation Showcase offer a fantastic opportunity for the University to engage with industry and further its mission to make a positive impact in the world.”
Mary Canning, Associate at Epidarex, a specialist life science venture capital group, who attended the Innovation Showcase commented:
“We like to work closely with top universities and the Innovation Showcase was very helpful in pointing out where The University of Manchester’s strengths lie. We’ve had a good relationship with UMI3 for the last couple of years. They’ve pitched a number of projects to us and there’s a very exciting pipeline.”
She added: “I’d also say that academics shouldn’t feel that they have to have a perfect business plan before they talk to industry or talk to investors, because if the technology is exciting enough, people will want to help and give advice.
“We like to engage directly with academics, even long before they need funding so we can give them some input and then talk again later on.”
Mark Dearden took part in the Plenary Panel. Mark is VP of Strategy & Marketing at LG, a global leader in the life sciences sector, serving customers in healthcare, applied markets (including food, agbio and the environment), research and government.
Mark commented: “Innovation is critical to our agenda as a company. We track the vitality of our portfolio, which is a measure of revenue generated from new technology.
“The diversity of perspectives from such a broad range of attendees in the Innovation Showcase was really engaging.”
BioElectronics demo showcase
Networking in the Street
Professor Douglas Kell and colleagues have developed novel technology that identifies the most effective antibiotic to kill organisms in urinary tract infections
Increasing pressures on health services have led to the over-prescription of commonly used antibiotics, more instances of mis-prescription and subsequently, the emergence of antibiotic resistance and an increased reliance on antibiotics of last resort. This novel technology is set to play a vital role in the fight against anti-microbial resistance.
Professor Douglas Kell
Professor Douglas Kell has developed technology using flow cytometry which detects and counts individual bacteria in a urine sample, and can determine which antibiotic is the most efficient at killing those particular bacteria. The most effective antibiotic can then be prescribed to the patient.
Professor Kell believes the ‘precise technology’ could be deployed as a portable instrument in GP clinics and hospitals.
Professor Kell said: “What we’ve been able to do for the very first time is to provide a very rapid method that will enable us to determine whether a particular antibiotic is going to kill the organisms in the urinary tract infection or not. The method is sufficiently rapid that the results would be available in the time before an individual would leave a doctor’s surgery.
“Typical modern methods have often relied on discovering the genotype of the organism that is there and the sequence of DNA. But that doesn’t actually tell you whether or not the organism is susceptible, in the sense of stopping it growing, to the antibiotic in question.”
Antimicrobial resistance or AMR – which occurs naturally over time and usually through genetic changes – is the ability of a microbe to resist the effects of medication that once could successfully treat the microbe. Microorganisms that develop antimicrobial resistance are sometimes referred to as superbugs. AMR is widely seen as one of the greatest threats to society.
Professor Kell added: “The common occurrence is that a patient will turn up at a GP clinic with a urinary tract infection or a suspected urinary tract infection, and the doctor would like to give an antibiotic.
“Quite often, one doesn’t know which is the right antibiotic that will cure the infection.
“What would be desirable is to have a test that could tell you which antibiotic is going to work on a timescale of say thirty minutes or less so that the patient gets the right prescription before they leave the GP’s clinic. This is what we have been able to achieve”
A paper has been published on this technology which you can view here:
Microbiology Society Journals | Very rapid flow cytometric assessment of antimicrobial susceptibility during the apparent lag phase of microbial (re)growth
You can also view an introductory video to this technology here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLWKd9opVQA
Collaborate to Innovate, hosted by the University of Manchester, will showcase the benefits of academic-industry collaboration for furthering biomedical research, providing an informed insight into potential funding streams and highlighting opportunities to fulfil your innovation potential. The schedule will include:
* Key funding representatives from SBRI, Innovate UK, KTN, and ERDF will provide detail and guidance on current and forthcoming funding opportunities.
* University of Manchester collaborative funding opportunities arising from internally managed funding schemes (devolved from the BBSRC, EPSRC, MRC and Wellcome Trust).
* Case studies to provide in-depth and first-hand experiences on the mutual benefits of collaborative research from both academic and industry perspectives.
* The research and innovation network, particularly in the greater Manchester area, will be highlighted through speakers from Manchester Science Partnerships, Bionow, Health Innovation Manchester and the Catapults.
* One-to-one sessions with the speakers.
* Facilitated networking – to maximise the potential for making connections, a live attendee list will be maintained in the run up to the event, providing a means for the Business Engagement team to connect interested parties with one another.
The event will take place on the 1st May, 8.50am – 3.00pm, at Citylabs 1.0, Nelson Street, Manchester. For further details and to register attendance please follow the Eventbrite link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/collaborate-to-innovate-tickets-56348606198
For any queries please contact Kate Meade, Business Engagement Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org) , telephone number: 07717224977)
An entrepreneurial academic from the University’s School of Materials has moved a step closer to making the next generation of solar panels cheaper to manufacture.
Professor Brian Saunders’ Perovskite Solar Cells (PSCs) technology holds the potential for the design of new solar cells at a significantly lower cost.
Solar panels are frequently seen on houses and buildings but high production costs hamper more widespread use.
“Perovskite solar cells are quite revolutionary,” he said. “Our technology minimises the steps required for production of a porous perovskite layer for solar cell applications. It also allows for efficient scale-up and control of the porosity of the perovskite layer.”
Professor Saunders continued: “This is achieved by utilising microgels to provide a micropatterning template around which the perovskite crystallises. Microgels (which are like microscopic sponges) are already widely used to produce surface coatings in the automotive industry and are compatible with solvents used to produce perovskite layers.
“The perovskite layer can be deposited in one step, with good control over porosity achieved by adjusting the ratio of microgel to perovskite.
“Our technology can also potentially be applied to multiple perovskite compounds, providing a scalable and controllable method for the production of a variety of semi-transparent solar cells.”
Such technology could be applied to windows, electric vehicles, personal electronics and traffic signage.
Scanning electron microscopy image of a perovskite solar cell membrane
UMI3 Ltd, The University of Manchester’s technology transfer company, is seeking to license or assign this technology and explore further partnership opportunities.
The academic team has published a paper in Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 2018, DOI: 10.1039/C8CP05148H
Using microgels to control the morphology and optoelectronic properties of hybrid organic-inorganic perovskite films
You can view an introductory video to this technology here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbTFVpO5i2M
University of Manchester researcher, Dr Thomas Waigh, Senior Lecturer in Biological Physics, has developed a technology that will make living cells and tissues more visible during analysis.
The addition of a GO (Graphene Oxide) coating to microscopy slides improves both fluorescence imaging contrast and resolution.
Dr Waigh comments: “My team has developed technology which uses monomolecular sheets of GO to coat microscopy slides, thereby eliminating background fluorescence and improving the resolution of images.”
“It’s an important breakthrough as GO is cheap and easy to manufacture in large quantities. The cost to coat each slide is estimated to be 12 pence.
“The GO coatings are biocompatible and remove background fluorescence from non-specifically bound dyes such as in live cell imaging.
And the GO coatings can be manufactured to cover different shapes and sizes of slides.”
Other applications include imaging auto-fluorescent proteins to remove background fluorescence and lining of flow cells in flow cytometry to reduce background signal from non-specific dye binding.
Dr Waigh added: “The GO layer is followed by a polymer coating to adjust the distance between the GO and the sample. The GO quenches fluorescence for any non-specifically bound dye while the polymer layer allows the stained or labelled sample to fluoresce. The quenching of non-specifically bound fluorophores means the GO coated slides are able to eliminate background fluorescence. This technology therefore greatly enhances the contrast and resolution of the microscopy images.
“The GO layer has already been tested with a range of regularly used fluorescent stains and calculations show that it will work for all dyes.”
Live cell imaging – The images show the labelled capsule of Escherichia coli with a GO coated slide and without.
The University of Manchester’s technology transfer office, UMI3 Ltd, is seeking to license or assign the technology to microscopy equipment manufacturers, companies working in fluorescence microscopy, life sciences diagnostics companies, scientific instrument manufacturers and optical slide manufacturers.
The team has recently published in Scientific Reports 10.1038/s41598-018-35297-4 “Quenched Stochastic Optical Reconstruction Microscopy (qSTORM) with Graphene Oxide” (SREP-18-10956)
For a short video description of the technology, please see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M36B9J66WVY