UMIC welcomes the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills to the Core Technology Facility

UMIC, the facilities management and business support service provider for The University of Manchester, was delighted to welcome Lord Mandelson, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, to the world-class business incubation facilities at the Core Technology Facility on Friday 12 March 2010.

Lord Mandelson met with the President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manchester, Professor Alan Gilbert, and Robert Hough, Chair of the Northwest Regional Development and found out more about how UMIC, the University and the NWDA work in partnership to support innovative and enterprising research and nurture and develop early stage and start-up companies. Lord Mandelson also had the opportunity to tour the facilities of Nanoco, one of the fastest growing companies in the North West and a world-leader in nanotechnology innovation, where he was given an insight into some of the key challenges and successes for new and developing science and technology enterprises.

The Secretary of State was in Manchester to discuss the Government’s policy on regional economic development, and see first-hand how this has delivered jobs, skills, investment and growth for the city. In his keynote address Lord Mandelson outlined the crucial role that regional economies will play in the recovery and future economic success of the nation and emphasised the importance of renewing and rebuilding Britain’s infrastructure to ensure the country remains competitive in the global market.

Managing Director, Martino Picardo says:
“It was a real privilege to welcome the Secretary of State to CTF, on a visit hosted by our President, Alan Gilbert. Our facility is all about converting ideas into commercial reality and it is crucial to maintain the high profile of the University and its associated commercial exploitation activities in the current climate. It was also great to see so many of the North West’s contributors to the local Innovation Ecosystem in the audience. Being able to show the Minister what a high growth company like Nanoco looks and feels like is important too, particularly as the company is a University spin-out and is close to moving from development of its technology into manufacturing.”

UMIC is the facilities management and business support service provider for the University of Manchester. The company is entirely owned as a subsidiary of the University. UMIC provides state-of-the-art facilities and top-quality business support services for start-up and early-stage companies.
The Core Technology Facility provides complementary space to the successful Manchester Bioscience Incubator. The building was funded by both the Northwest Development Agency and European Regional Development Funds to develop and build “grow-on” and additional incubation space for biotechnology and hi-tech start-ups and SMEs.

UMIC aims to help Manchester and the region deliver high levels of economic growth through the creation, development and attraction of competitive, high-value and profitable businesses within a culture of enterprise and innovation.

World class facilities are available for technology and biotechnology-based businesses. Companies including Renovo, Epistem, DxS, Gentronix and Motac all began life here and have gone on to great success. Companies in UMIC’s facilities have raised in excess of £100m in venture capital with several now listed on the London Stock Exchange or AIM markets.

UMIC has worked with over 50 growth-oriented businesses since 1999, and we actively welcome enquiries from entrepreneurs not just in the region but from across the UK

UMIC and UMIP join forces to host a BBSRC workshop for young academic entrepreneurs

UMIC and UMIP will host a BBSRC–sponsored workshop on the morning of the April 21st at the Core Technology Facility on Grafton Street. The event will focus on informing young academic entrepreneurs of potential careers in start-up businesses and particularly, in the Life Sciences and Environmental business sectors in general. In addition, the organisations are preparing potential academic candidates at the post-graduate stages of their careers to enter the BBSRC-sponsored YES events (www.biotechnologyyes.co.uk/, the NWEST regional final is held in Manchester, in November.

We look forward to seeing a large representation of young academics who are interested in finding out more about business related careers and life in start-ups and to hearing more about the YES events as well. It will be an exciting and informative event. It will be an important opportunity for young academics to network with local commercial people from start-ups and various professional services associated with business creation, development and support.

UMIC and UMIP look forward to seeing you at this important event. As we are expecting a large level of interest, we hope that you will register early for the event which will take place over the morning of the 21st April with a full agenda to follow shortly. Please contact Alison (alison.warren@umic.co.uk) to book your place.

UPF invests £250,000 in Ai2

UK technology investment specialists, MTI Partners, has announced the investment of £250,000 from the UPF (the UMIP Premier Fund), in University of Manchester spin-out company, Ai2 Limited

Ai2 is developing an innovative peptide coating technology which is able to render medical devices and implants antibacterial, thus potentially reducing the frequency of infection.

The new investment will enable the company to progress the technology platform and seek alliances and partnerships in specific applications, including contact lenses and wound dressings.

Dr. David Holbrook, Director of MTI Partners, said: “We have been watching Ai2 develop and have been impressed with its substantial technical and commercial progress for such a young organisation.”

David continues: “We have been particularly impressed with the way the company has focussed the technology on a small number of key applications, such as contact lenses, all of which represent significant unmet need markets. We look forward to helping Ai2 grow into a successful business.”

Dr. Curtis Dobson, founder and director of Ai2, said: “We are delighted to announce the successful closure of this current round. This funding will allow us to build on our successes to date and implement and validate our technology in the hands of partners. Clinical infection is a serious problem, and with this investment we can play our part in delivering a new and lasting solution.”

Chairman of Ai2, Kevin D’Silva, said: “The arrival of the UPF Fund as a substantial shareholder, and the presence of MTI Partners on the Ai2 board, will make a substantial contribution to the direction and management of the Company during 2010 and beyond. We are currently negotiating some key license applications for our peptide technology, and the target is to commence commercialisation successfully, and as soon as possible.”

The Ai2 investment comes hot on the heels of the announcement that the NWDA has awarded a MTI Partners/YFM partnership a £9 million fund management mandate to be invested in North West SMEs.

www.a-i-2.com

Plasma Clean technology is pure genius

Plasma Clean Limited, a hi-tech spin-out from The University of Manchester has been awarded a £112,829 Grant for Research and Development from the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA)

Based in the Stockport Business Incubator, Plasma Clean specialises in odour control and air purification solutions utilising non-thermal plasma technology.

Grant for Research and Development, is part of Solutions for Business, the Government’s package of publicly funded business support designed to help companies start and grow.

The Grant helps entrepreneurs and business owners introduce innovative products and processes, including research trials and product testing. Grant for Research and Development is designed specifically to support innovative projects that have a solid commercial potential.

The Grant for Research and Development will allow Plasma Clean to complete the development of its non-thermal plasma system. The technology, aimed at Ultra Pure Gas applications in the manufacture of semi-conductors, flat-panel displays and solar cells, and any other ultra high purity gas application, has already generated significant interest from the UK and abroad.

The work will build on the NWDA research project completed in October 2008, which helped the business to deliver a unique power supply system capable of producing a highly active plasma discharge using lower power.

The Plasma Clean system, known as Plasma UPG, will eventually be licensed to commercial partners across the world, seeking low power solutions to meet the ever demanding need to enhance process gas purity.

Mark Hughes, Executive Director of Economic Development, NWDA said:
“Innovation is critical to the economic development of the region; ensuring vital sectors remain productive. The NWDA plays an important role ensuring businesses within the Northwest are able to retain a competitive edge, leading the way in research and development,”

David Glover, Managing Director of Plasma Clean said:
“Receiving this award is a great boost for Plasma Clean and will help to deliver a unique product offering which will present significant benefits to our customers worldwide.

We have already had significant interest from some of the major players in the air purification industry, seeking a product which will offer competitive advantage in terms of performance and running costs”

“We have been working with Plasma Clean for over 3 years through the North West Business Investment Scheme. I am delighted their hard work and innovation has been recognised, enabling them to take their developments of the UPG plasma technology to the next level on an international scale. There is a huge market for Plasma Clean’s technology and this grant will help them further establish themselves as pioneers in the air purification field.” Says Doug Stellman, NWBIS, YFM Private Equity

The NWDA is playing a crucial role in response to the current economic downturn, with a number of actions being taken to meet the needs of businesses during these financially challenging times. To keep updated on the range of support being offered by the NWDA go to – www.nwda.co.uk/supportingbusiness

For more information on business support visit www.businesslink.gov.uk/northwest

For more information on Finance for Business please visit www.nwdabusinessfinance.co.uk

Link Technologies inks exclusive license to exciplex

The ISO 9001:2000 certified specialist oligonucleotide reagent manufacturer, Link Technologies Ltd, is pleased to announce an exclusive license deal with The University of Manchester Intellectual Property Limited (UMIP) to the University’s “Exciplex” technology. Exciplex diagnostic probes offer ultra-biospecificity and significantly increased detection sensitivity over conventional systems due to negligible background signal.

At the same time, Link and the University are commencing a forward collaboration to further develop the existing technology. Under the terms of the licence agreement Link will manufacture and sell Exciplex-based reagents worldwide. No financial details of the agreement have been disclosed.

University of Manchester scientists, Honorary Professor Ken Douglas and Dr Elena Bichenkova, a Senior Lecturer in Medicinal Chemistry, have developed new exciplex diagnostic probes based on labelling oligonucleotides with exciplex partners that form excited-state complexes in close spatial proximity. Application of these modified oligonucleotides in diagnostic systems has been shown to discriminate DNA mutations at the level of PCR products and plasmid DNA.

Professor Douglas commented: “This is a very exciting opportunity to bring together a University discovery base and this excellent company to work together. The Exciplex is a significant new area of science and we are pleased to have the expertise of Link Technologies to take this forward to a commercial entity for clinical benefit”.

Dr John Bremner, Business Development Director at Link Technologies, concurred: “We are
delighted with this deal, although we firmly believe this is simply the start of something truly
exciting. Our ongoing collaboration with the University over the coming months will optimise the technology, allowing us to launch a new range of innovative products targeted at diagnostic companies worldwide.”

Patents for this technology, covering all major market areas, are held by the University of
Manchester and licensed to Link. Link Technologies has also secured the rights to any intellectual property arising from the collaboration with the University.

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