Despite the ongoing effects of the global coronavirus pandemic, a new, intrepid group of academic entrepreneurs have been awarded prestigious Enterprise Fellowship awards. Six innovators, each with an exciting business proposition, will now benefit from an equity-free support package, worth up to £100,000, to aid them in the commercialisation of their work. The package includes a year’s salary, tailored business training and mentoring, business support funding and access to the RSE’s network of business contacts.
Due to social distancing requirements, all training, mentoring and networking will be carried out via online platforms for the foreseeable future.
Meet our newest Enterprise Fellows and find out more about their companies:
Ashton Barnett-Vanes, University of Edinburgh
Company/project: Javelin Health
Javelin Health is an award winning healthcare technology start-up operating within the cardiovascular market. Based in Scotland, the company works with technology, clinical and academic partners to develop and commercialise product solutions to pressing unmet clinical needs. The company’s founder intends to utilise the RSE Enterprise Fellowship to develop the business, engage domestic and international markets, expand its team and secure further funding.
Timothy Eyes, University of Manchester
Company/project: Manchester BioFactory
Enzymes are everywhere. They are added as the ‘bio’ active ingredients in many everyday products and valuable processes from food to pharmaceutical manufacture. Enzyme technology enables cleaner bio-based alternatives to costly, wasteful chemical processes, central to the emerging global bio-economy, set to grow to >$2 trillion.
However, in practice, the natural activity an enzyme is often too weak or unstable, and engineering improvements is highly unpredictable and laborious; requiring millions of enzyme versions to be searched, with no real guarantee of success.
Manchester BioFactory has developed a streamlined platform technology, called ‘HiVE’ which dramatically shrinks this experimental search space down; enabling the accelerated discovery of vastly improved enzymes to deliver best-in-class products and processes.
Hamish Geddes, University of Edinburgh
Company/project: Lenz Ltd.
Railway commuters are no stranger to delays and cancellations: stray leaves on the line regularly foil journeys, acting as the ‘black ice’ of rail. The debris causes over 200 adhesion incidents a year by reducing grip and increasing wheel slip, leading to potential derailments as the driver loses control over the wheels.
Operators currently use “leaf buster teams” to mitigate the risk of an unreliable service. However, reduced speeds are enforced on 10% of journeys, resulting in lower passenger throughput and reduced revenues. Despite spending £65m on solutions across the UK, operators lose £345m annually with Network Rail handed fines of £300m.
Lenz proposes the Traction Hub: a retrofitted solution that magnetically counters slip, stabilising the driver’s control over the wheels. The product improves operational safety by offering predictable braking control and improved acceleration performance, no matter the weather.
Richard Gray, University of Glasgow
Company/project: Lomond Nuclear Instruments
Lomond Nuclear Instruments will develop and manufacture cutting-edge radiation detector technologies to address complex decommissioning challenges within the UK civil nuclear industry.
The small-scale, lightweight and cost-effective detection systems advance on the current propositions with a significant reduction in cost, power consumption and form factor.
The initial offering, a compact gamma/beta spectrometer, is being developed for scaffolding contamination inspection, pipeline corrosion monitoring and pipeline and vessel radiological characterisation. Looking ahead, the company plan to develop a full suite of radiation detection technologies and introduce neutron and alpha systems to identify all four of the key radioactive emissions that each pose unique challenges within the nuclear industry.
Carole Tucker, Cardiff University
Company/project: Cardiff Filter Technology
Cardiff Filter Technology (CFT) will be a high-tech manufacturing company specialising in the metal-mesh filter technology for which the existing Cardiff Astronomy Instrumentation Group are the sole providers worldwide.
CFT produces multi-layer metal-mesh optical filters, a cornerstone technology in terahertz (THz) science. These devices will continue to find application in international next-generation aerospace applications, however the company aims to expand its products to cover a broad range of application in markets such as RF communications and security scanning.
The RSE Fellowship facilitates dedicated effort to form the company, develop the business model ready for investment and to relocate the manufacturing outside the university environment. This will allow us to up-scale and modernise the facility and to meet the demands of future aerospace projects.
Marine Valton, Imperial College London
To sustain crop productivity, farmers regularly apply nitrogen in the form of fertilisers. However up to 70% of the applied product does not reach the plants, causing a considerable financial loss for farmers and costing the EU >€70 billion per year to address the environmental pollution.
BIO-F aims to tackle the lack of sustainable and efficient fertiliser options, by developing biofertilisers based on natural algae, directly isolated from farmers’ fields. BIO-F’s fertilisers directly capture atmospheric nitrogen and carbon to share them with the crops, along with other nutrients, thereby acting as slow-release fertilisers, and replenishing soil health and fertility.
With these products, farmers will benefit from an increase in productivity, without damaging the surrounding environment.