Collaborate to Innovate event, City Labs 1.0, Manchester, May 1st

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 (kate.a.meade@manchester.ac.uk) , telephone number: 07717224977)

 

University of Manchester researcher closer to cutting the costs of next-generation solar cell technology

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

https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2014/CP/C8CP05148H#!divAbstract

You can view an introductory video to this technology here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbTFVpO5i2M

University of Manchester Graphene Oxide slide coating makes living cells and tissues more visible

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)

www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-35297-4

For a short video description of the technology, please see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M36B9J66WVY

Global ambitions for new UMI3 CEO

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.”

University of Manchester spin-out Gelmetix raises £1.2m to develop back pain treatment

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).

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