UMIP Wins Tech Transfer Award

The University of Manchester’s intellectual property commercialisation company, UMIP, was voted Technology Transfer Office of the Year at the Genesis biotechnology conference in London last night.

The judges at the Gala dinner, held at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, awarded UMIP the top prize, despite strong competition from the other two shortlisted companies; Cancer Research Technology Ltd and UCL Business plc.

Commenting on the award Clive Rowland, CEO of UMIP, said: “It is an honour to receive this award and it is testament to all the dedication and hard work of UMIP staff. It has been a strong year for us with many new technologies having been either licensed or spun-out creating companies to bring ground breaking new technologies to the marketplace.“

In financial terms, over the last 5 years, UMIP’s activities have generated over £35M for the University through the sale of shares in spin-outs, licensing income and through IP grants and contracts activity.

This year UMIP has seen award-winning Myconostica pick up the ‘Innovation in Diagnostics Project of the Year’ prize at the Northwest Biomedical Awards. Also, spin out company Renephra received the ‘Emerging Technology Project of the Year’ at the same ceremony, as well as the ‘Northwest NHS Innovations Award’ at a separate event.

Also, clean-tech spin-out company Arvia® Technology won the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) North West Innovation Award in July and were named a Global Cleantech 100 company by Guardian News and Media and Cleantech Group™.

Allan Prits, UMIP Marketing Manager, receives the award from Baroness Jo Valentine, CEO, London First..

UMIP appoints Dr Sharon O’ Kane as its Entrepreneur in Residence

The University of Manchester’s award winning intellectual property company (UMIP) is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr Sharon O’ Kane as its Entrepreneur in Residence. Sharon will be engaging in an advisory role with UMIP to enhance the University’s spin-out company and licensing activities and to encourage intellectual property entrepreneurship at the University.

Sharon, who was recently named as Bionow / NWDA Biomedical Personality of the Year 2009, and was the Entrepreneur of the Year at the inaugural Northwest Women in Business Awards 2008, is the Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of University of Manchester spin-out company Renovo. Renovo Group plc is a biopharmaceutical company developing drugs for the reduction of scarring and has been listed on the London Stock Exchange since 2006.

Sharon said that she is looking forward to using the business skills and networks that she has developed from her involvement in the commercialisation of University-based research which led to the creation of Renovo and to raising the profile of entrepreneurship at the University. Sharon commented: “I am very pleased to have been asked to advise the University in this capacity. The University already has an excellent track record in innovation and entrepreneurship, with many successful spin-out companies. When I announced in September that I will move on from Renovo next February, I said I wanted to use my experience to help start and build companies, and this advisory role with UMIP is one in which I can immediately contribute and help UMIP continue to be successful in meeting its goals of creating spin-out companies, licensing IP and making an important contribution to the economy.”

Clive Rowland, UMIP’s CEO, said that he was delighted that Sharon had agreed to accept the appointment. “We are very much looking forward to working with Sharon. We have some specific ambitious funding initiatives in mind with which Sharon is ideally suited to help us. We are also asking Sharon to assist in improving our effectiveness and our success rate in drug discovery licensing.”

Awards for UMIP Premier Fund investments

Renephra and Myconostica are part of the UMIP Premier Fund which is managed by technology specialists MTI Partners, who invest in hi-tech, high growth companies.

Myconostica was awarded the ‘Innovation in Diagnostics Project of the Year’, at this year’s Northwest Biomedical Awards dinner, whilst Renephra received the ‘Emerging Technology Project of the Year’ at the same ceremony, but also scooped a ‘Northwest NHS Innovations Award’ at a separate event.

University of Manchester School of Medicine spin out, Myconostica, is a medical diagnostic company which develops and commercialises rapid and highly specific tests for life-threatening fungal infections. The award was received for Myconostica’s MycArray Yeast ID product; an inventive system for identifying Candida species.

Renephra, also a spin out project from The University of Manchester, were recognised for the development of their groundbreaking dialysis technology that could dramatically improve the quality of life of patients with kidney disease and improve their long term prognosis.

Dr. John Thornback, Myconostica’s Chief Operating Officer, received the honour on behalf of the company at the award ceremony. Speaking at the event, Dr. Thornback said “Myconostica is delighted to have received this title in recognition of the innovative technology utilised in our original test for identifying Candida species, MycArray Yeast ID.

Dr. Thornback continues: “Having been the recipients of Bionow’s Biomedical Start Up of the Year Award in 2006 we are delighted to have been further recognised for our continued contribution to providing innovative diagnostic solutions for the treatment of invasive fungal diseases.”

Prof. Paul Brenchley said: “Receiving one award is fantastic, so to have our technology recognised by both the Northwest NHS Innovations Award and the Northwest Biomedical Awards in one week is a huge honour.”

Manchester based MTI Partners Investment Manager Mark Rahn said: “I am delighted that the University of Manchester and NHS projects have featured so well in recent awards events. MTI’s UMIP Premier Fund is a supporter of both Myconostica and Renephra and we are pleased that these awards recognise their recent strides forward.”

Northwest Biomedical Awards winners announced

Over 200 people from the Northwest’s biomedical sector gathered last night (Thursday 12th November) at the annual Northwest Biomedical Awards at Mere Golf and Country Club.

The awards, organised by Bionow, the Northwest Regional Development Agency’s (NWDA) biomedical cluster support group, were a resounding success and showcased the very best of the region’s world class biotechnology sector.

Mark Hughes, NWDA Executive Director of Economic Development, said:

“England’s Northwest is one of the UK’s top three biomedical clusters, home to world class biotechnology companies and internationally renowned research capability in this sector. The Northwest Biotechnology Awards recognises excellence in the sector and rewards the success and achievements of the people and organisations that are making a significant contribution to the industry and the region.”

The winners were:

Biomedical Project of the Year (sponsored By Pannone LLP)
Winner: ICX-RHY Project, Intercytex

Healthcare Project of the Year (sponsored By TrusTech/NHS)
Winner: The Oesophageal Doppler guided intraoperative fluid management in major surgery, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Innovation in Diagnostics Project of the Year (sponsored by ThermoFisher)
Winner: Candidaemia Species, Myconostica

Promising Biomedical Technologist of the Year (sponsored by Novartis Vaccines)
Winner: Dr Christian Zakian, University of Manchester

Emerging Technology Project of the Year (sponsored by Waters Corporation)
Winner: Renephra, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Biomedical Start Up Company of the Year (sponsored by Baker Tilly)
Winner: Biofortuna Ltd

Biomedical Company of the Year (sponsored by AstraZeneca/MedImmune)
Winner: Advanced Medical Solutions

Personality of the Year – Dr Sharon O’Kane, Renovo

Outstanding Contribution – Dr Linda Magee, MAHSC

Manchester Scientist Shines In BioNow Awards

Dr Christian Zakian from the School of Dentistry at The University of Manchester has been awarded a prestigious accolade for his pioneering work in the biomedical field.

Christian claimed the ‘Promising Northwest Biomedical Technologist of the Year’ at the North West Biomedical Awards for his work on an invention that allows mapping of carious lesions in the teeth. The Awards, which are organised by BioNow, examine the best emerging talent in the region and reward excellence in the sector.

The novel approach of using defined wavelengths of light to build an image of each tooth allowing dentists to not only determine that decay is present but how deep that decay extends. To date, available techniques are either not sensitive enough to early stages of the disease, such as x-rays, or are limited by the presence of stain in teeth. This method is non-invasive and can assist dentists to monitor the disease progression, resulting in a more informed approach to treatment. In contrast to other optical techniques this innovation provides a picture of the whole tooth and not just a single point; this is useful to reveal the precise location of the decay and helping to decide whether drilling is required and where. The images produced are clear and bright and offer an opportunity for patient involvement in the treatment decision making processes.

Led by Christian, his research team applied for Proof-of-Principle funding from UMIP to bring the project forward, which was subsequently granted. Christian is part of a multi-disciplinary research group (Dental Health Unit) led by Prof. Roger Ellwood and Dr. Iain Pretty and formed by scientists and dentists who focused on coordinating clinical trials and developing next generation dental diagnostic instruments.

UMIP licensing manager, Dr Lizzie Crawford, commented on the awards: “The investment from UMIP allowed Christian to go from strength to strength, transcending his daily role as a research assistant to head up a team that includes, a technician and a research assistant. Christian’s ability to commercialise and drive his product forward at such an early stage in his career is testament to his tenacity and confidence in his invention and this was a view that was clearly shared by the judging panel.”

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