A list recently produced by Reuters ranks The University of Manchester as the seventh most innovative in Europe – jumping nine places from the 2017 report – and third in the UK.
The Reuters Top 100 Most Innovative Universities ranking is based on the number of academic papers, patents filed and citations by other academics and industry which introduces a quality rather than a volume measure.
The University’s world-class research base has an excellent track record of innovation spanning over 30 years. All of the brilliant ideas which are generated by the University’s researchers have the potential to save lives, improve health, increase efficiencies in industry and the environment, or otherwise enhance society and make positive contributions to our economy.
Clive Rowland, CEO of UMI3 Ltd, the University’s agent for IP commercialisation, comments: “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 – our patents need to be both thorough and defensible.
“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.”
Since 2004, IP enterprises have generated over £115 million to the University through the sale of shares in spin-outs, licensing income and through IP grants and contracts activity. Furthermore, over £430m has been invested by 3rd party venture funders in the University’s spin-outs, a number of which have received national and regional enterprise awards.
Manchester is synonymous with graphene following its isolation in 2004 by Nobel Prize winners Professors Geim and Novoselov. The University has one of the most extensive portfolios of IP rights relating to graphene and 2D materials with over 300 scientists engaged in 2D materials research here in Graphene City ®.
IP encompasses technologies in areas including: the production of 2D materials, 2D inks, desalination and nano-filtration membranes, barrier coatings, polymer composites, thermoelectric composites, sensors, touch screen interfaces, printable electronics and wearable technologies to name a few.
Earlier this month the University with spin-out Nanoco Group PLC, which develops and manufactures quantum dots and nano-materials, launched Nanoco 2D Materials Ltd to develop a new generation of nano-materials. Potential commercial applications for these materials span across a wide range of sectors including novel catalysts, photo-detectors, photovoltaics, inverters and light emitting devices.
Spin-out and AIM listed SkinBioTherapeutics, a skin health specialist, raised £4.5m when it listed on the London stock market last year. The company recently announced that its cream formulation has passed effectiveness studies in models of skin and will now undergo further testing for stability.
Earlier this year, another spin-out MicroBioSensor – which is behind a medical device designed to detect life threatening infections – received a £1.4m investment boost and has just successfully completed its first clinical trial.
Reuter’s latest ranking follows recent news that the University has attracted the most research income from UK industry of any institution in the country, with £24,831,000 of research income in 2016-2017 from UK industry, commerce and public corporations.
The University’s strategic technology transfer fund provides significant seed funding following a Nanoco sponsored doctoral studentship.
The University of Manchester and Nanoco Group PLC (LSE: NANO), a world leader in the development and manufacture of cadmium-free quantum dots and nano-materials, announce the launch of Nanoco 2D Materials Ltd “2D Materials” which is focused on the development and commercialisation of a new generation of nano-materials. 2D Materials is a wholly owned subsidiary of Nanoco Group PLC.
Two dimensional nano-particles are a platform technology which are one or two atoms thick and a few nanometres wide and represent a burgeoning field of material science. Currently there is no cost-effective way to produce these 2D materials on a commercial scale nor any reliable method to ensure consistent properties suitable for the wide range of potential electronics, industrial and other applications.
For the past year Nanoco has been collaborating with the University’s Professor Novoselov, 2010 winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics for his work on graphene, with the goal to establish feasibility for these exciting new materials. Based on the positive results seen to date, 2D Materials has been created to formalise the partnership between the two groups, ensure funding is in place and continue the development of the technology.
Dr Nigel Pickett, CTO and co-founder of Nanoco, said: “By combining Nanoco’s expertise with the knowledge base from Professor Novoselov’s lab we have been able to push the boundaries of material science to come up with a new generation of versatile 2D nano-particles and are now utilising Nanoco’s 15 years of scale-up expertise on methods to produce them at commercial scale. Potential commercial applications for these materials span across a wide range of sectors including novel catalysts, photo-detectors, photovoltaics, inverters and light emitting devices.”
Professor Novoselov added: “It is exciting to see how quickly 2D materials, beyond graphene, has accelerated from the early research stage to the technology we now have. Working with a very knowledgeable and dedicated Nanoco team continues to be a very refreshing experience. The ability of our combined teams to focus on particular technological and performance parameters is allowing the rapid development of these 2D Materials.”
Clive Rowland, CEO of the University’s innovation company -UMI3- commented: “Part of the University’s strategy for commercialising graphene and its sister 2D materials is to work with existing companies and entrepreneurs to help them set-up R&D centres and new companies close to the campus to create a technology innovation ecosystem here – Graphene City®. I’m delighted that we are working with Nanoco, which itself is a spin-out from the University. Its experience in the handling and scaling up of nanomaterials and access to its relevant facilities were key factors in us deciding to support this initiative.”
Manchester, UK – 03 April 2018 – SkinBioTherapeutics plc (AIM: SBTX, the “Company”), a life science company focused on skin health, announces the signing of an MTA relating to its proprietary SkinBiotix® technology with a major, global consumer goods company.
The Company has been speaking to a range of commercial partners interested in evaluating its SkinBiotix® technology ahead of its human studies which are scheduled to commence later this year.
Having shared the initial pre-clinical data with a number of interested parties, one potential partner to date has progressed to an MTA, granting it access to the SkinBiotix® technology. An MTA is a standard agreement governing the transfer of material between parties enabling the recipient to assess the technology and, where the outcome is successful, can be a precursor to future commercial discussions.
The MTA provides for SkinBioTherapeutics to share a sample of its material against which the third party will conduct its own in-house assessment. Whilst at this stage there can be no certainty that discussions will progress further than the initial sharing of the technology, the Company is encouraged by the level of interest that has been shown in its pre-clinical data.
The Company is initially targeting cosmetic skin care and in this market SkinBioTherapeutics’ skin microbiome technology is unusual in that its properties are supported by scientific data. These demonstrate its ability to improve the skin barrier, offer protection from infection and enhance skin repair. These characteristics support potential opportunities for the Company in cosmetics, anti-infectives and dermatological indications (e.g. eczema).
Most recently, the Company reported good results in a variety of toxicity studies and the development of its formulation as a gel, cream and lotion which will be tested to determine the best concentration and application for its humans studies.
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.