Seven UK researchers have been awarded up to £85,000 of funding through the Enterprise Hub to spend the next 12 months exclusively developing a spin-out business based on their innovations. The Hub also provides training and connects each Enterprise Fellow to a mentor from the Academy’s Fellowship, which includes some of the UK’s top technology entrepreneurs. Volunteer mentors include Sir Robin Saxby FREng, Anne Glover CBE HonFREng and Ian Shott CBE FREng.
The technologies include a wireless device that uses detailed 3D movements in your fingertips to interact with a computer, and ‘smart’ glasses to help the blind and partially sighted. Pioneering smart materials based on ‘photocatalysts’, including antibacterial plastic films, water purifying bags and sun-burn warning indicators, are also being supported through the scheme.
Other technologies funded in this round include medical innovations such as a handheld anaemia diagnosis device that can improve treatment, and a new cosmetic enhancement invention inspired by technology used to drive spacecraft, which removes fine lines and wrinkles with reduced scarring and quicker recovery times.
A new lubricant coating to reduce pain and discomfort for the millions of global catheter users was also selected, as was a new service that utilises big data to analyse the potential fuel use reduction that road transport and haulage firms would make by installing the most suitable fuel saving devices available for their fleets.
Professor Dame Ann Dowling DBE FREng FRS, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said, “The UK has a world-leading engineering research base, yet further action is required if the nation is to maximise its potential to innovate and remain an economic powerhouse. The Enterprise Hub is an excellent example of an initiative effectively bridging this gap to help commercialise cutting-edge research for the benefit of industry and society.”
Arnoud Jullens, Head of Enterprise at the Royal Academy of Engineering, added, “Business-minded academics need investment and support from experienced industry practitioners to exploit their research, and the Enterprise Hub is in a unique position to make such connections. As well as matching each Enterprise Fellow with a mentor, we also provide broader networking opportunities, such as access to the wider Fellowship and investors who partner with the Hub.
“On top of this, the Hub offers funding, and a full package of bespoke support to help get their businesses off to the best possible start. For example, specific training in areas such as business modelling, pitching, and investor readiness is essential to this process, and the one-to-one mentoring is largely focused on helping the Enterprise Fellows get their innovations to market.
“We’ve already seen outstanding success from Enterprise Fellows of previous years and the Hub continues to introduce and expand its programmes to support entrepreneurial engineers as their businesses develop.”
Further information on all of the current and past Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellows can be found on the Enterprise Hub website.
Full list of this year’s seven Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellows:
Dr David Hazafy – Creating smart materials with photocatalysts
SunCatalyst Laboratories, Spinning out of Queen’s University Belfast
Photocatalysts have enabled a new generation of smart materials, from self-cleaning paint and fabrics to glass that never fogs up. They work by harvesting energy from ambient light to drive a useful chemical reaction, such as to destroy bacteria or pollutants. The photocatalyst industry is only 20 years old and already worth over $1bn annually.
David’s start-up SunCatalyst Laboratories is developing a variety of innovative new products that take advantage of advances in photocatalysts, from antibacterial plastic films and sun-burn warning indicators, to water purifying bags, rust-removing inks, and flexible electronics.
The company is also utilising David’s expertise in the application of photocatalysts to provide an independent testing service to the growing industry, helping organisations such as Unilever to get their own photocatalyst innovations to market.
Dr Stephen Hicks – Smart glasses to aid the blind and partially sighted
Spinning out of the University of Oxford
1 in every 300 people worldwide is classified as legally blind. Up to 90% of these individuals have some remaining sight, called residual vision, which can be limited to just the awareness of light, shapes and motion. Stephen and his team have developed a non-invasive visual display that can be worn like glasses to enhance the usefulness of residual vision.
The glasses work by detecting the three dimensional structure of nearby objects and preferentially highlighting the nearest and most important objects, such as people, faces and obstacles.
Traditional assistive technologies for blind individuals have involved touch or sound based devices, which are hard to learn and provide limited increases in quality of life and independence.
Stephen is currently refining the prototype into a new lightweight pair of glasses, and a market-ready device is expected by the end of the year. It will initially be sold online, and potentially made available on the high street in the future.
Dr Jack A. Cohen – Computer gaming with your fingertips
Spinning out of the University of Warwick
Jack has developed a wireless device that detects and uses detailed 3D movements in your fingertips to interact with a computer. It has huge potential in the multi-billion pound gaming industry and other niche markets such as remotely operated machinery.
It works by combining information from cameras and wireless sensors, and in the future this technology could even replace traditional computer keyboards and mice to enable people to create and manipulate digital information with their hands in a free and natural way. It could also enable people to perform new tasks that would previously have been too complex or intricate, such as sorting and processing large and disparate data.
Its accuracy and affordability make it stand out from other consumer technologies on the market, and it could be a key enabler in bringing augmented and virtual reality technologies into the mainstream. The device is currently in prototyping and is expected to reach the market in the next few years.
Dr Thomas Frame – New cosmetic enhancement system ‘Halo’ promises to reduce wrinkles and fine lines using technology developed for space travel
Fourth State Medicine, Spinning out of the University of Surrey
The Halo System, created by start-up Fourth State Medicine (4SM), is a new cosmetic enhancement technology that removes fine lines and wrinkles by removing the top layer of the epidermis and causing contraction of the layers below. It has significant benefits over existing treatments including reduced scarring and quicker recovery times and less discomfort.
Over four million cosmetic and aesthetic procedures are conducted globally each year, and 17% of them are focused on facial rejuvenation, such as wrinkle and fine line removal.
The current treatment options for facial rejuvenation are laser, intense pulsed light (IPL), dermal fillers (such as botox and collagen), dermabrasion/microdermabrasion, chemical peels and radio frequency therapy. Research and early engagement with patients has found issues in each of these treatments, such as the size of treatment zones, not offering fine depth control, levels of discomfort and anesthetic requirements. Many of these will be addressed by the Halo System.
The Halo system is currently in development at the Surrey Space Centre, and was inspired by electric propulsion technology which is used to drive spacecraft. It has been successfully demonstrated by Broomfield Hospitals Histology, and 4SM has worked with the University of Manchester to demonstrate that the ‘Halo effect’ provided by the system promotes wound healing, reducing patient scarring and recovery times. It is currently on track to provide treatments to early adopters in early 2016.
The technology is also being used to develop a wound sterilisation system, which will reduce bacteria and improve recovery times whilst also reducing scar formation. Initial tests with the University of Manchester’s Hardman Group laboratories have demonstrated impressive results, with >95% of Methicillion-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) and the resistant strain MRSA bacteria killed by the treatment.
Dr Toby Basey-Fisher – Redefining the diagnosis of Anaemia at the point of care
Eva Diagnostics, Spinning out of Imperial College London
Anaemia is defined by a low red blood cell count and is the world’s second leading cause of disability, with 1.6 billion sufferers globally. It has multiple causes but once the cause is known anaemia is often curable.
Toby’s start-up company, Eva Diagnostics, is currently developing two affordable handheld anaemia diagnostic devices. AnemiPoint is able to identify the presence of anaemia in patients, and the AnemiStat device will differentiate the different types of anaemia, helping clinicians in inferring a cause. It is a market-first in point-of-care anaemia diagnosis and enables tailored treatments for the patient.
The devices are based on proprietary technology developed at Imperial College and both are expected to enter the market in 2016. Eva Diagnostics will engage a global market, where anaemia-related expenditure is in excess of $1 billion.
Dr Angus Webb – Using big data to reduce commercial fuel consumption
Dynamon, Spinning out of the University of Southampton
An average heavy goods vehicle consumes £42,000 of fuel annually in the UK, and haulage companies operate on extremely tight margins, usually between 1-3%. This means fuel savings can have a huge effect on their profitability.
There are a number of products already on the market to improve the efficiency of haulage vehicles, however a lack of evidence of the fuel savings has limited their uptake. Angus’ start-up, Dynamon, combines big data from vehicles with dynamic modeling and statistics to provide hauliers with tailored recommendations on the products that will help them make the greatest savings.
Dynamon has three products: Advanced Telematics, the Fuel Saving Platform, and the Fuel Saving Calculator. Advanced Telematics utilises in-vehicle electronics, mathematical modelling and big data statistical methods to provide a detailed breakdown of fuel consumption in relation to a range of critical factors. It then identifies where the greatest efficiency improvements can be made.
The Fuel Saving Platform is an extension to Advanced Telematics, which recommends fuel saving products based on how a vehicle is consuming fuel and the likely return on investment for the haulier. The Fuel Saving Calculator is a web application for fuel saving product manufacturers to more accurately communicate potential fuel savings to customers.
Ahead of the commercial launch of its products, Dynamon is already working with Southampton City Council, First Group and Go South Coast to quantify the impact of fuel saving devices they are fitting to buses to improve city air quality, and a significant number of hauliers have expressed early interest in it products.
Dr Nicola Irwin – Reducing the pain and discomfort of using catheters
Uroglide, Spinning out of Queen’s University Belfast
For patients with poor control over their bladder function, intermittent self-catheterisation (ISC) - involving the regular insertion of catheters into the bladder via the urethra - is increasingly preferred over the use of indwelling catheters. Over 600 million of them are now sold each year, largely due to the lower infection risk and greater personal independence associated with ISC.
However, regular insertion of poorly lubricated catheters is painful and can lead to difficult-to-treat urethral complications, such as damage, bleeding and inflammation.
The current coatings used dry out quickly, making them less slippery. This means inserting and removing a catheter can become a difficult and painful process. These coatings have changed very little in over a decade.
Nicola, together with Professor Colin McCoy and her team at Queen’s University Belfast, has developed a new coating technology that is cheaper than the industry-standard coating, yet more slippery, stays wet for longer, and adheres strongly to the catheter. These coatings will ease catheter insertion and reduce damage upon removal, improving the patient’s experience. By transforming catheterisation into a quick and painless process which patients can easily do themselves, Uroglide is expected to save medical personnel time and, importantly, make a life-changing difference to the dignity and health of patients.
Uroglide is currently undergoing independent testing and is expected to be available for use by patients in healthcare and home settings next year.
Notes for Editors
About the Enterprise Fellowships.Enterprise Fellowships provide funding and support to outstanding entrepreneurial engineers, working at a UK university, to enable them to develop the skills to run a successful company based around their technological idea. The scheme builds capacity in entrepreneurship amongst academics and promotes engineering innovation in the UK.
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 from the Academy’s Fellowship are also allocated to each Enterprise Fellow to provide additional support, advice and access to their entrepreneurial and venture capital networks during the Fellowship. Further information can be found here: http://www.raeng.org.uk/grants-and-prizes/support-for-entrepreneurs
About the Enterprise Hub. The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Enterprise Hub is a new national resource for the UK’s most promising engineering entrepreneurs. The Hub forms part of the Academy’s commitment to promoting engineering excellence by identifying and supporting the founders and leaders of tomorrow’s high-tech companies.
It provides money-can’t-buy bespoke support and one-to-one mentoring from its Fellowship, which includes prominent tech entrepreneurs such as business icons Mike Lynch OBE FREng, Sir Robin Saxby FREng, Anne Glover CBE HonFREng and Ian Shott CBE FREng. Further information can be found here: http://enterprisehub.raeng.org.uk/
About the Royal Academy of Engineering. As the UK’s national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering.
We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK’s role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK’s world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook.
We have four strategic challenges: Drive faster and more balanced economic growth; foster better education and skills; lead the profession; promote engineering at the heart of society.
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