Plasma implants for glass products to beat fraudsters; a new malaria treatment using blood filtration for difficult cases, including those resistant to drugs; a new class of ultra-thin, ultra-high resolution displays for wearable technologies; and a personal molecular biology lab for young people and citizen scientists. These are the new technologies developed by engineering entrepreneurs at UK universities that have been backed by the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Enterprise Hub, which provides funding, mentoring and support to each of the new businesses.

The overall winner, Dr Matthew Murray, has been awarded the ERA Foundation Entrepreneurs’ Award, which looks to identify, encourage and reward engineers working with electro-technology in UK universities. Through the Enterprise Hub, Dr Murray will receive training to help him develop the skills needed to run a successful business, a mentor from the Academy’s Fellowship to provide additional support and advice, invitations to workshops and networking events, and connections to opportunities offered by other organisations via the connection to the wider Academy network.  Becoming a Hub member also means joining a highly valuable peer-support network. In addition to membership of the Enterprise Hub, he will receive a £10,000 personal prize, as well as £30,000 to invest in the continued development of his innovation, Alpin.

Alpin is a patented technology that allows anti-counterfeit plasmas to be implanted into glass, creating a pattern on the surface that can be used to identify individual batches of products in bottles, such as pharmaceuticals, alcohol and perfume. This has a significant value to the economy, as counterfeit goods are linked not only to a financial loss, but also to significant health risks, particularly in the case of counterfeit drugs.

Arnoud Jullens, Head of Enterprise at the Royal Academy of Engineering, said, “Matthew’s plasma technology will help to add another layer of protection against counterfeit products worldwide; an issue of growing importance, particularly in developing countries. The support offered by the Enterprise Hub’s network of business leaders will help Matthew to find the right partners and customers to take his product to the global market.”

The runners-up for the ERA Foundation Entrepreneurs’ Award include George Frodsham, whose company MediSieve uses a blood-filtration system to ‘sieve’ the blood of malaria sufferers and reduce a patient’s parasite burden; Dr Peiman Hosseini who has developed a new generation of nano-display technology for use in wearable technologies such as Google Glass; and Bethan Wolfenden and Phillip Boeing, who have developed a personal molecular biology laboratory system which is set to boost education and promote citizen science. Each of these projects will be awarded £2,000 cash prizes as well as becoming Enterprise Hub members.

Professor Sir Richard Brook OBE FREng, Chairman of the selection panel, said: “This year’s candidates showcase how far and wide electro-technology can be used to solve contemporary issues. All of the individuals involved have shown a high level of commitment and entrepreneurship and with the support of the Enterprise Hub will be able to take their ideas to the next level.”

Further information on past winners of the ERA Foundation Award and current Enterprise Hub members can be found on the Enterprise Hub website:

Overall winner of the ERA Foundation Entrepreneurs Award:

Dr Matthew Murray – Advanced anti-counterfeiting implants

Ultramatis | University of Leeds

Dr Murray has developed and patented Ultrafast Laser Plasma Implantation (ULPI) as a novel manufacturing platform with his product, Alpin. ULPI can implant any glass with femtosecond-laser generated plasma - a highly charged and energetic gas, such as one containing optically active elements. This introduces visible or light-activated colouring (e.g. when exposed to UV) to a glass. Applying a mask, analogous to a stencil, ULPI can create a pattern upon the surface, such as a barcode or branding. This may be used as an anti-counterfeiting measure, made unique for an individual batch or product, providing security and authenticity for products such as pharmaceutical, alcohol and perfume bottles. This adds a unique selling point to a product as well as limiting the severe health and financial implications of counterfeiting.

Finalists joining the Enterprise Hub:

George Frodsham – Magnetic Haemofiltration to treat Malaria

MediSieve | University College London

One child dies of malaria every minute. Often, they arrive at hospital too late to be saved. MediSieve uses haemofilter technology, which ‘sieves’ the blood, offering the chance to turn back the clock by rapidly and safely reducing a patient's parasite burden. MediSieve’s novel technology requires no drugs or chemicals, and can be used to treat any malaria patient, including drug-resistant and other 'untreatable' cases, keeping patients alive and symptom-free indefinitely. Used either in isolation or as a stand-alone treatment, the haemofilter removes malaria infected cells directly from the bloodstream in a dialysis-like process. In severe cases, it could reduce mortality and recovery times; in non-severe cases, patients could recover in hours rather than days as the efficacy of drugs is increased and their side effects eliminated. Following extensive trials, MediSieve products will be commercially available in the next couple of years.


Dr Peiman Hosseini – New materials for wearable technologies

University of Oxford

Wearable technologies are making a big impact in society – beginning to blur the boundary between human and machine. This market is set to be worth $12.6 billion by 2018. The next generation of lightweight, high performance machines will rely on technologies that are capable of bringing the user as close to a device as possible. Dr Hosseini has created the first reported nano-display device that uses both optical and electronic property modulation in Phase Change Materials. An entirely new class of ultra-thin, ultra-high resolution displays with nanosecond access speed and no power consumption in static mode is now under development by his team. This revolutionary display will initially target the rapidly growing microdisplay market compact, projection-based displays used in emerging near-eye applications like Google Glass. The first prototypes are currently under development, with a small working device set to be ready within the next 12 months.


Bethan Wolfenden and Philipp Boeing – Personal molecular biology laboratory to boost education and citizen science

University College London

bento•lab is a personal laboratory that will allow anybody to carry out basic genetic experiments from the comfort of their own homes. The toolkit weighs only 3kg, fits on an A4 footprint, and contains all the basic equipment required to carry out research in molecular biology. With bento•lab, Bento Bioworks is making learning and working with molecular biology orders of magnitude more accessible, which has widespread implications for science and engineering education. The aim is to have finished products shipped to customers within a year, allowing them to engage with the topic of genetic engineering and potentially contribute to large-scale research projects. The objective is to create products that enable everyone to work with biology safely, conveniently and creatively.

Notes for Editors

  1. About the ERA Foundation Award. The ERA Foundation aims to contribute to the economic vitality of the UK by supporting activities that will help to bridge the gap between research and exploitation in the broad field of electro-technology.

    The Royal Academy of Engineering ERA Foundation Entrepreneurs Award is made possible by the support of the Foundation, and was established to encourage and reward creativity and innovation amongst early-career stage engineering researchers working in UK universities, in the broad field of electro-technology.

    The award is presented annually to an individual or team who demonstrate considerable entrepreneurial potential. The Award consists of a £10,000 personal recognition award and a £30,000 grant payable to the Awardee(s) university for continued development of the innovation by the Awardee(s).

    In addition, the Awardee(s) are invited to become Members of the Enterprise Hub where they receive a package of bespoke mentoring and training. Up to three other individuals or teams may be chosen as runners up, at the discretion of the Award Selection Panel. Runners up (if any) may also be invited to become Hub Members. 
  2. 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 Hon FREng and Ian Shott CBE FREng.
  3. 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.

For more information please contact:

Giorgio de Faveri at the Royal Academy of Engineering
T: 020 7766 0655
E:  Giorgio de Faveri