The Royal Academy of Engineering has awarded five more of its prestigious Enterprise Fellowships to outstanding innovators at UK universities. These unique Fellowships form part of the Academy’s Enterprise Hub, a new resource for entrepreneurial businesses that will see Academy Fellows providing expertise and mentoring for engineering and technology start-ups and SMEs.

The projects chosen demonstrate the breadth of opportunities within engineering, from printable lasers designed to help stop the sale of counterfeit goods to new technology for food safety testing as well as healthcare solutions. Providing up to £85,000 of funding and support per awardee, the Fellowships allow researchers to spend 12 months totally and exclusively committed to developing a spin-out business around their technological idea.

The Fellowship awardees will receive mentoring from Academy Fellows with a track record of entrepreneurial success. This is the second year of the scheme, with individuals from the first cohort already forming companies and attracting significant investment. One such awardee, Dr Susannah Clarke, who developed a surgical implement used in hip replacement operations, has established a spin-out company, Embody, conducted 15 surgeries with the device during her Fellowship and is now supplying her products to an orthopaedic company.

Ian Shott CBE FREng, Managing Partner of Shott Trinova and chair of the selection panel, said: “It is fundamental to the wellbeing of the engineering sector which will drive growth of the UK economy that researchers are given support to create the next generation of businesses based on effective innovations. Business-minded engineers need investment and support from experienced industry practitioners to exploit their research, filling gaps in the market and providing solutions to industry problems, which could become the commercial success stories of tomorrow. This is why activities such as the Enterprise Fellowships and the Academy’s new Enterprise Hub are so important."

This year’s five Enterprise Fellows are:

Dr Damian Gardiner - Printable lasers for anti-counterfeit applications

University of Cambridge

The global cost of counterfeit products from fake banknotes to pharmaceuticals and consumer products is estimated at £500 billion, but Dr Damian Gardiner, a Research Associate in the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge, is developing innovative solutions to combat the problem. Building on breakthroughs in printable laser technology, he will develop his work on unique optical signatures combined with scalable print processing to provide security and brand authentication features and devices, which could help prevent the sale of counterfeit goods. Dr Gardiner aims to establish a spin-out company to bring this technology to market with support from his colleagues in CMMPE and the Inkjet Research Centre as well as Cambridge Enterprise.

Dr Ruchi Gupta – µNaut Technologies: Novel optical system for label-free assays

University of Manchester

The process of researching and developing new drugs and diagnostic tools is expensive and in Europe, pharmaceutical companies and governments spend in the region of £30 billion a year on the R&D of new drug molecules. Dr Ruchi Gupta, a Research Associate at the University of Manchester, works in the growing area of drug discovery and disease diagnostics concerned with the detection of analytes (substances that are of interest in an analytical procedure) without tagging them with labels; a process that is known as label-free assays. Existing label-free assay technology requires complex and expensive fabrication techniques and instrumentation. However, Dr Ruchi’s solution, consisting of a common readout instrument and low cost, customisable, disposable plastic device could change this. She also believes that her innovation will return more information than current methods.

Professor Janice Kiely - Magneto immuno-assay technology for food safety testing

University of the West of England

Every year 2.2 million people across the world die from food infections. Professor Kiely, Director of the Institute of Bio-sensing Technology at UWE, has developed novel bio-sensing test kits for the automated, rapid detection of pathogens such as Salmonella, E. Coli and Listeria, and other food contaminants which are harmful to human health. Her Magneto Inmmuno-Assay technology aims to make the detection of food contamination faster, more reliable and more affordable. Current standard safety tests take over 27 hours to complete, but Professor Kiely’s solution takes less than eight hours.

Dr Adar Pelah - Asuuta: Medical & consumer technology for gait analysis, rehabilitation & training

University of York

Stroke is the single largest cause of disability, with many people suffering gait impairment as an after effect. Dr Adar Pelah, Reader in Electronics at the University of York, has created StroMoHab, virtual reality technology for rehabilitation and training that significantly improves treatment outcomes and diagnostics in gait-impairing conditions including stroke. The system gives patients motivating feedback in real time, which assists recovery through neuroplasticity as the patient performs and corrects natural interactive activities tailored to their abilities. It also provides clinicians with accurate metrics and advanced analytics for assessing the patient’s condition and rate of recovery and has the potential to save the NHS money. To commercialise StroMoHab, Dr Pelah will launch Asuuta, a university spinout company.

Dr Stephen Smith - Diagnosing, differentiating and monitoring neurodegenerative diseases

University of York

Parkinson’s disease affects around 120,000 people in the UK alone, but the most effective medication causes 90% of patients who take it for more than a decade to develop involuntary movements called dyskinesia. Currently there is no accurate way of monitoring this condition, but Dr Stephen Smith of the Department of Electronics at the University of York, with the assistance of Consultant Neurologists, has developed technology to measure dyskinesia using evolutionary algorithms – computer programs inspired by Darwinian evolution. These algorithms can be trained, using data obtained from small wireless sensors worn by the patients, to recognize and monitor symptoms of a range of neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease. The Enterprise Fellowship will allow Dr Smith to focus on clinical validation of the technology at medical centres in the UK, USA and Australia, and to commence commercial distribution of the technology.

Notes for editors

  1. Enterprise Fellowships provide funding and support to outstanding entrepreneurial engineering researchers, working at a UK University, to enable them to develop a spin-out business around their technological idea. The award provides up to £85,000 to each Enterprise Fellow to enable them to spend 12 months establishing their own business. In addition to the financial support, training will be provided to develop business skills. Mentors are also allocated to each Enterprise Fellow to provide additional support, advice and access to their entrepreneurial and venture capital networks during the Fellowship.
  2. Ian Shott currently chairs a portfolio of life science businesses as an active investor. He was previously the founder, majority owner, and CEO of Excelsyn, a fast growing Contract Development and Manufacturing business, focused on the global Pharmaceutical Industry. Excelsyn was sold to AMRI in February 2010. Ian has held senior executive leadership positions in the Global Life Science Industry for over twenty years. He was latterly President of Chirex and RhodiaChirex having previously held executive board posts at Lonza and Zeneca. He has been particularly involved in creating and transforming businesses by a combination of break out development, organic growth and external merger and acquisition. Ian is a past President of the Institution of Chemical Engineers and Chair of the Government’s Industrial Biotechnology Leadership Forum, for which he previously chaired the Innovation and Growth Team. He served concurrently on the Ministerial Advisory Group for UK Manufacturing Strategy and is a member of the governing body of the Technology Strategy Board.
  3. The Academy’s Enterprise Hub, launched on 29 April, aims to bring about a step change in the success of UK based entrepreneurial technology businesses and the contribution that they make to UK economic growth. The Hub will build on the Engineering Enterprise Fellowships and introduce new activities targeted at building the skills, capabilities and vision of UK-based technology entrepreneurs.
  4. The Academy has recently launched its Engineering for Growth campaign to highlight the contribution that Engineering and research makes to the UK economy. For more information, please visit:  engineeringforgrowth.org.uk
  5. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship - comprising the UK's most eminent engineers - provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain's engineering community.

For more information please contact

Sarah Griffiths at The Royal Academy of Engineering Tel. 020 7766 0655