A novel respiratory therapeutic device, Saturation Driven Oxygen Therapy (SDOT) that can provide a more effective treatment for patients, decrease the likelihood of emergency hospital admissions and reduce healthcare costs has won Imperial College London PhD research student Mario Iobbi the £40,000 ERA Foundation Award from The Royal Academy of Engineering.

The Award has been established to identify entrepreneurial researchers working in UK universities in the field of electro–technology who are at an early stage in their career and who demonstrate both considerable entrepreneurial promise and the potential to benefit the UK’s future prosperity.

This year’s winner Mario Iobbi comments, “It’s an honour to be recognised for this award which will help Dynamic Therapeutics to accelerate the first product launch. The experience bringing together engineering innovation and clinical demands has been tremendously rewarding working directly with medics and patients to improve the standard of care.”

Emphysema, cystic fibrosis and other breathing-related conditions are responsible for more deaths each year than coronary heart disease or cancer and cost the NHS more than any other disease area.

Together with co-founders Andrew Selves and Dr Michael Ellis, MBA graduates of Imperial College Tanaka Business School, Mario has founded Dynamic Therapeutics Ltd to focus on delivering healthcare innovations for people with respiratory disorders. Dynamic Therapeutics leading innovation, the SDOT device, automatically adjusts the flow during oxygen therapy to match the patient’s measured demand. Professor Dame Julia Higgins, Principal of the Faculty of Engineering at Imperial College says, “This is an excellent example of applying engineering research to business in order to produce a product which could revolutionise patient care. We are extremely pleased that Mario has been awarded this prize.”

Mario’s prize includes £30,000 to be used to develop the commercial potential of his business and a personal £10,000 cash sum. He will also be assigned a mentor from the judging panel for two years.

Judging Panel Chair, Professor Richard Williams FREng adds, “This year we considered a compelling and well argued case demonstrating a combination of sound engineering knowledge, a strong personal vision and proven business acumen. We shall be following and seeking to support his venture as it develops. I hope it will inspire other PhD entrepreneurs to maximise the impact of their research findings and inventions on society.”

The device is currently undergoing pilot clinical trials at the Royal Brompton Hospital.
Dr Anita Simonds MD FRCP, Consultant in Respiratory Medicine at the Royal Brompton Hospital comments, “ Ambulatory oxygen allows individuals with chronic lung and low oxygen levels to exert themselves more, get out and about and so improves quality of life. By adjusting flow rates to the person’s needs this new device has the potential of increasing supply to avoid dips in oxygen which can put a stress on the heart, and allows oxygen to be used more economically. It is not often one comes across a treatment that improves physiology, quality of life and is more cost effective – this device offers just that possibility.”

Notes for editors

  1. The Royal Academy of Engineering ERA Foundation Entrepreneurs Award is the latest award in the Academy’s awards portfolio. Made possible with the generous support of the ERA Foundation, the annual Award is open to both individuals and small teams. It seeks to identify and reward engineering researchers who exhibit a combination of business awareness, entrepreneurial potential and complimentary personal qualities in the field of electro–technology (which includes electrical and electronic engineering, aspects of biomedical engineering, electro-mechanical engineering, optics and optical engineering, instrumentation IT, software and hardware and materials related to these areas).
  2. 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.
  3. The ERA Foundation supports activities that help bridge the gap between research and exploitation in the broad field of electrotechnology. Activities include support of projects at the early stages of commercialisation, investment in start–up and young technology companies, raising the profile of engineering to young people and promoting the importance of high quality research and development to government, industry and academia.

For more information please contact

Tonia Page at The Royal Academy of Engineering tel +44 07770 845984

For information on the award please contact Professor R A Williams FREng, Institute for Particle Science & Engineering, School of Process, Environmental & Materials Engineering, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT. Tel: 0113 343 2801