Three innovative spin-out ideas have landed £30,000 following the final of UMIP’s inaugural ‘Next Big Thing’ competition which attracted 23 applications from entrepreneurial academics, staff and post-doctoral researchers from across the University.
Value from Data, Manchester Robotics and RobotAnalyst all secured £10,000 apiece which will enable them to start their commercial journeys in the business world.
‘The Next Big Thing’, hosted at The University of Manchester Innovation Centre on Grafton Street by UMIP, a division of UMI3 Ltd, also saw four other finalists pitch business concepts to a panel of four judges.
Through Value from Data Norman Paton, a Professor of Computer Science at the University since 2000 and Nikolaos Konstantinou, are seeking to make it easier for data scientists to clean up and organise the data that they need in order to carry out analyses and gain insights.
Post-Doctoral Research Associate Matthew Nancekievill is behind Manchester Robotics, which is aiming to sell a small educational robot to universities, colleges and schools.
John McNaught, Deputy Director of the National Centre for Text Mining, standing in for the Director, Professor Sophia Ananiadou, pitched RobotAnalyst to the judges –a project that aims to help people working to elaborate best practices, guidelines and policies, by vastly reducing the amount of effort needed to filter nuggets of evidence from large datasets, through learning from human decisions on relevance.
Chair of the judging panel, Dr Rich Ferrie, UMIP Director of Operations, said: “The Next Big Thing has been a real experiment for us.
“And we’ve been overwhelmed with entries during what was a tight timeline to develop value propositions around these entrants.
“The applicants were all of a high standard and very passionate about commercialising their research. With that in mind it was important that we made sure all the finalists got some form of support from UMIP. They are all strong businesses and UMIP is intent on helping them achieve commercial success.”
He added: “Having said that we had to make a decision about who the recipients would be of the £10,000 prizes.
“We felt that having sizeable commercial opportunities to go for, those companies where there was an urgent need to engage, and where £10,000 could make a real impact, should benefit.
“We intend to build on this competition next year.”
Manchester Robotics’ Matthew Nancekievill said: “We are aiming to sell a small educational robot to universities and design tech students and are also going to build an online web presence to create market credibility.
“We are also going to talk to universities that are already interested in the product which will be followed by advertising the product to other universities and schools.”
He added: “It’s been a fantastic competition. I started the process wanting to learn more and start my own company at some point. So, to actually get to the final, do the pitch and win is absolutely fantastic.”
John McNaught and Sophia Ananiadou of RobotAnalyst, said: “Winning this is very important because business funding is very hard to come by.
“We will put this money to very good use to take what is currently a research prototype forward to a full product.
“It’s also very important to be working in partnership with UMIP as we are academics without business backgrounds.”
Norman Paton of Value from Data said: “What we are seeking to do is make it easier for data scientists to clean up and organise the data that they need in order to carry out analyses and gain insights into their data. “We have a plan to set up the company to market our data preparation software. “As a fledgling tech company we are building a minimum viable product, and will use the £10,000 to launch that and the website. “This initial launch will help us to improve our understanding of how people use the product in practice, and thus show us how best to develop and market it.”
From l to r: Nikolaos Konstantinou/Norman Paton Value from Data; Matthew Nancekievill Manchester Robotics and John McNaught Robot Analyst pictured with Dr Rich Ferrie, Director of Operations, UMIP.
Founded by HRH The Duke of York in 2014 to support entrepreneurs through opportunities for mentorship, investment and connections to accelerate growth, the theme for this round was Data, Intelligence and The Future of Security.
Manchester Imaging, a dental diagnostic software company, today announced that it has raised a £600,000 investment from the GM&C Life Sciences Fund, managed by Catapult Ventures, and NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance, which is managed by Mercia Fund Managers, part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.
The investment will support the development and commercial launch of the company’s first suite of software products that use machine learning and computer vision processes to automatically detect the very early signs of tooth decay, which can go unseen by dentists.
Manchester Imaging, a spin-out of The University of Manchester by its agent for IP commercialisation, UMI3 Ltd, is based on more than a decade of academic collaboration between Professor Hugh Devlin, Professor of Restorative Dentistry, and Dr Jim Graham, Honorary Reader in the Centre for Imaging Science.
Tony Travers, CEO of Manchester Imaging, said: “I’m very pleased to be working with Catapult Ventures and Mercia Fund Managers, and to have secured the funding to enable Manchester Imaging to commercially launch CARIESDENT for the detection of early stage tooth decay. I look forward to supporting dentists and their patients to identify tooth decay earlier, thereby enabling the use of preventative treatments or earlier intervention to avoid the need for fillings.”
Dr Mark Wyatt, Investment Director at Mercia Fund Managers, commented: “We’ve been very impressed with the progress made by the company and the well-rounded, highly experienced and commercially focused leadership team. Having previously backed the company through Mercia’s EIS Funds, we are delighted to continue supporting Tony and his team with growing Manchester Imaging as a leader in dental diagnostic imaging software.”
In addition to the investment, Kevin D’Silva, a Venture Partner with Catapult Ventures, will join the board of Manchester Imaging as non-executive Chairman. Kevin has held a number of non-executive and Chairman positions, including Monica Healthcare (acquired by GE Healthcare), Crystallon (acquired by Judges Scientific), and Imorphics (acquired by Stryker Corporation). He is also a Director and former Chairman of both Surface Transforms plc (AIM listed) and Hallmarq Veterinary Imaging Ltd. Kevin was a founding director of Ferraris Group plc (FTSE: listed) and created Salusinvest in 2006 to invest in a number of EU and US life science businesses.
Kevin D’Silva commented: “I’m delighted to be joining Manchester Imaging as a director and investor at an important time when the company is poised to launch CARIESDENT. I believe that its patent-protected technology and early partnership with a leading multinational dental supplier provides a good route to market and positions Manchester Imaging extremely well for commercial success.”
The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.
Photo caption: From left to right, Dr Mark Wyatt (Investment Director, Mercia Fund Managers), Kevin D’Silva (Chairman, Manchester Imaging), Dr Ashish Patel (Investment Manager, Mercia Technologies), Professor Hugh Devlin (Professor Restorative Dentistry, University of Manchester and Clinical Director, Manchester Imaging), Tony Travers (CEO, Manchester Imaging) and Dr Jim Graham (Honorary Reader Centre for Imaging Science, University of Manchester and Technical Director, Manchester Imaging).
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UMI3 Ltd, The University of Manchester’s Innovation Company, is delighted to announce the appointment to the Board of Jason Stockwood, Group CEO of Simply Business, as non-executive director.
UMI3’s role is to bring as much of the University’s ground-breaking inventions and software into the commercial world. This is done principally by attracting entrepreneurs, investors and corporate venture partners to the University’s campus and Innovation Centre and then, through engagement with academic colleagues, licensing or spinning out companies.
All of the brilliant ideas which are generated by the University’s researchers have the potential to save lives, improve healthcare, increase efficiencies in industry and the environment, and otherwise enhance society and make positive contributions to the economy.
University spin-outs have produced “firsts” in scale-up of technologies with commercial applications, from quantum dot manufacture (Nanoco) to the treatment of radioactive waste (Arvia).
Jason Stockwood joined this month as a non-executive director and chairman of the Project Development Committee. As part of his appointment to UMI3, he will be reviewing progress of UMI3’s spin-outs and licence opportunities and will be reviewing proposals for investment by the University in new IP projects. He will be also working on the introduction of an enterprise culture to help generate greater impact from UMI3’s work and will be involved with the University’s Innovation Centre, UMIC, which provides lab, office and events space for innovative spin-outs and start-ups.
Stockwood is the Global CEO of Simply Business, one of the UK’s largest business insurance providers and a pioneering fast growth insurtech firm that has disrupted the industry through harnessing data and technology. Since joining in 2010, Stockwood is responsible for scaling the business to cover more than 425,000 customers, driving its global expansion, with its US office having opened last year as well as successfully leading the company through investment and acquisition.
Prior to Simply Business, Stockwood held a number of senior positions across disruptive online businesses from the global dating website, Match.com, where he was International Managing Director, to his role in travel as managing director at Travelocity Business. He has also held board positions with Skyscanner and The Drinkaware Trust.
Simply Business was voted ‘The Best Company to Work For’ in The Sunday Times in both 2015 and 2016 under Stockwood’s leadership, which also saw him voted CEO of the Year in 2016 by the same publication. In 2017 Simply Business was awarded its B-Corp accreditation in recognition of its supportive and innovative approach to ensure the business is making a positive contribution to wider society and the environment.
Jason Stockwood comments: “It’s an honour to join the Board of the University of Manchester’s Innovation Company, a world-leading hub for technology and innovation that is committed to supporting the growth of ambitious startups.
“I am fascinated about the wealth of new opportunities at our fingertips when we unleash the full potential of our talent and technology. I look forward to working closely with the next generation of innovators, helping review the progress of spin-outs and licences as well as new proposals for investment by the University in original IP projects.
“We are entering a world where every company will on some level be a technology business. The impact of digital disruption is immeasurable and The University of Manchester’s Innovation Company has a vital role to play in nurturing ground-breaking ideas and providing spin-outs with the support and access to funding that they need in order to scale.”
Clive Rowland, UMI3 CEO, comments: “We are in the process of developing our company to promote further the University’s goals for enterprise and social impact through technology licensing and spinning out new companies.
“Finding the ‘right’ balance between being a service provider and an investment-minded business is a constant challenge. Who better to help us with this development than Jason? His personal business success and well respected people-focussed approach to leadership is a wonderful asset for us and we are all looking forward to his contributions to our efforts. His origin in the North of England is an added bonus as we seek to make an increased commitment to the Northern Powerhouse through our work and our new technology transfer collaboration with the Universities of Leeds and Sheffield.”
Dr Gordon Barker
A University of Manchester spin-out behind a medical device designed to detect life threatening infections will kick off its first clinical trial next year following a £1.4 million investment boost.
Through its ‘iPad mini sized device’ MicroBioSensor aims to help people with kidney failure undergoing peritoneal dialysis.
Based at The University of Manchester’s Innovation Centre, UMIC, MicroBioSensor recently secured £1.4m worth of equity finance from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF) and Catapult Ventures.
MicroBioSensor CEO Dr Gordon Barker said: “2018 is going to be a very important year for our 11-strong team as we look to successfully run our first clinical trial which will last through to the second quarter of 2019.
“Essentially, this is all about detecting potentially life-threatening infections early, to improve treatment outcomes.”
Dr Barker said that of the 50,000 to 60,000 people in the UK on renal replacement therapy, less than 10 per cent are on peritoneal dialysis.
“One of the reasons for that is people are worried about infection in the peritoneal cavity around their gut, as it will kill you if it’s left untreated,” he said. “Our device plugs into the equipment that dialysis patients use every day and detects emerging infections in this space, which potentially means keeping people on peritoneal dialysis for longer which is a good thing.
“If the clinical trial goes well we’ll be able to start selling the medical device for use in hospitals and clinics, which also saves the NHS money.
“The idea is that eventually it will be used at home by patients, as our technology is so simple that a non-specialist can use it with confidence.
“You are essentially looking at a window on the device for a colour change. If it’s a pale green everything is ok, if it goes to a dark purple colour, you know you have a problem. The idea is to flag that problem at a pre-symptomatic stage.
“You then go straight to the doctor rather than waiting to fall ill,” added Dr Barker.
MicroBioSensor has so far also been funded through transitional funding and grants including £125,000 from UMIP, £100,000 from Spark Impact and £983,000 from innovate UK.
In November, MicroBioSensor won the coveted ‘2017 Bionow Investment Deal of the Year Award’.