GIBSON INDEX NEWSLETTER - FEBRUARY 2010 HEADLINE NEWS Biotech SMEs offered Euro-vouchers to stimulate innovation FASILIS, a European project designed to stimulate innovation in the ‘human health’ marketplace, is inviting SME-size biotechnology, pharmacy and medical biology companies to apply for financial vouchers that will give them access to R&D facilities in the rest of Europe.
In England, through FASILIS’ partner South East Health Technologies Alliance(SEHTA), vouchers are available to innovative companies based in the South East. FASILIS (Facility Sharing in Life Sciences) –- is an international project whose aim is to stimulate connections between SMEs and a European network of public and private research facilities in six participating regions in the Netherlands, Belgium, England, Germany and Denmark.
Between the 10th of March and 21st of May 2010, applications are invited from any English SME or start-up company. Each voucher issued by FASILIS is worth €6000 and may be used to buy services from a facility provider in one of the other FASILIS partner regions. Such services are typically expected to include access to equipment, analytical services, research projects, clinical trials, product design / prototype manufacture, or technical training.
Vouchers cover 100% of the costs of the service provided by the facility. If the cost of the service exceeds €6000, it is possible to combine with additional budgets. Each region will be issuing 15 vouchers to successful applicants. Vouchers may not be used as a discount on previously agreed projects or for general business consultancy, marketing or other routine activities.
www.fasilis.eu - Haley Dwyer, SEHTA, Suite H2, Leatherhead Enterprise Centre,
Home composting of plastics possible via Imperial College’s sugar polymer Food packaging and other disposable plastic items could soon be composted at home along with organic waste through development of a new sugar-based polymer.
The degradable polymer is made from sugars known as lignocellulosic biomass, which come from non-food crops such as fast-growing trees and grasses, or renewable biomass from agricultural or food waste.
It is being developed at Imperial College Londonby a team of EPSRC scientists led by Dr Charlotte Williams. “Our key breakthrough was in finding a way of using a non-food crop to form a polymer, as there are ethical issues around using food sources in this way,” said Williams. “For the plastic to be useful it had to be manufactured in large volumes, which was technically challenging. It took three-and-a-half years for us to hit a yield of around 80% in a low energy, low water use process,” explains Dr Williams.
This is significant as the leading biorenewable plastic, polylactide, is formed in a high energy process requiring large volumes of water. In addition, when it reaches the end of its life polylactide must be degraded in a high-temperature industrial facility.
The team – including commercial partner BioCeramic Therapeutics, which was set up by Professor Molly Stevens and colleagues at Imperial. They focus on exploiting the degradable properties of the material to release drugs into the body in a controlled way.
Now the team is focused on developing the specific material characteristics needed for the packaging and medical areas.
Glasgow’s Alba Innovation Centre wins four high potential new tenants Operating in different fields they demonstrate the importance of converging technologies to the future growth of Scotland’s economy.
ECS Subsea Ltd has developed an innovative product for tracking pipelines and cables buried in the seafloor. The product is currently ready for sea trials. A new scanning method together with advanced signal processing promise large performance gains over competitors. The product has been designed by a small core team together with contracted specialist mechanical design expertise. An established global marketing partner has already been secured by ECS Subsea.
Forth Photonics is a medical device group that designs, develops, manufactures and markets imaging systems focusing on the non-invasive, in-vivo detection of cancerous and pre-cancerous lesions. The group’s global headquarters is the Alba Innovation Centre while R&D and manufacturing is carried out by Forth Photonics Hellas SA based in Athens. The company has developed a proprietary technology platform that has the potential to address a number of diseases affecting millions of people worldwide and costing billions of dollars to healthcare systems.
A2E Ltd is a product based electronics design services company dedicated to the delivery of complex system, hardware, DSP, FPGA, PCB and software design services.
The company, formed in 2002, has successfully provided solutions for numerous customers within the military, oil & gas, automotive and industrial/control sectors.
The growth of the company, to the point where it currently employs 10 people, has been based on their contract design skills.
www.a2etech.com Kiltr.com is a next-generation business social networking and media platform. It leverages Scotland’s unique cultural heritage and entrepreneurial spirit to assist professionals, companies and organisations who are Scottish or have an affinity with Scotland, to accelerate their success across the globe.
Kiltr is a Scottish Seed Fund and angel investor funded start-up company. Kiltr founders, Brian Hughes Halferty (CEO) and Stewart Fraser (CTO) hope it will provide the tools to connect the estimated 100 million Scots and affinity Scots across the globe and tap into the wealth of knowledge, experience and potential opportunity that exists in this network.
Sheffield’s Revival given continued push by new generation of startups The quiet but steady rise of the city of Sheffield as a world-leading technology centre has gone unnoticed in the UK – but not to keen observers.
The University of Sheffield and its vice-chancellor Prof Keith Burnett CBE FRS, former Oxford physicist and reputed to be ‘the brightest men in Britain’, now three years in post, have helped in the development of this renaissance.
The university has developed exceptional skills in materials, biotech materials, electronics and instrumentation. At the recent Yorkshire VentureFest event, a significant number of the best projects on display from universities in the region – promoted through the region’s Proof of Commercial Conceptscheme – came from Sheffield.
Local firms Metalysis, based in Manvers, and Xeros Ltd, sited on the city’s Advanced Manufacturing Park were voted into the UK’s top 20 best growing Clean Tech companies.
Metalysis holds the worldwide exploitation rights to the FCC Cambridge process which sees specialist powder metals created in a simple, cost effective process with significant environmental benefits. They expect to begin commercialisation of the process soon.
Xeros Ltd is developing the world’s first ‘virtually waterless’ washing machines that will re-use polymer beads which act as a cleaning agent to remove dirt from clothes.
Companies in Sheffield seeking to develop new products or processes based on latest emerging technologies are being sought by Nanofactory, the materials centre which brings together nanotechnology experts from Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam universities.
In the national finals of Biotechnology YES (Young Entrepreneurs Scheme) - a competition designed to highlight the commercialisation of bioscience ideas among postgraduate students and postdoctoral scientists - a novel idea of a wood pulp alternative for the paper industry helped a team of scientific entrepreneurs from the University of Sheffield win the competition. Team SynthiBac, made-up of second-year PhD students from the University´s Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, were awarded the Pfizer Prize for Innovation
Their idea for a company which produces high quality, pure cellulose from bacteria to supply as an alternative to wood pulp to the paper industry. The idea would provide a more environmentally friendly method compared to the destruction of millions of trees and was considered by judges to be the most innovative scheme that could realistically be made into a viable business.
A second University of Sheffield team Eagleeyz, who put forward their idea of alcogum -a chewing gum which changes colour upon the consumer reaching the drink drive limit, warning the driver not to go behind the wheel.
Royal Society Enterprise Fund makes two further investments – one in North East Having made its first investment in August last year, the fund has taken a significant stake in Gateshead-based air filtration company, Nano-Porous Solutions Ltd (n-psl).
The Enterprise Fund was a lead investor in a £750,000 fundraising alongside local business angels including John Clough, former chief executive of Eaga plc. The funding will enable the company, established in July 2007, to commercialise new ground-breaking nano-porous adsorbent hollow fibre technology.
This has numerous energy-saving applications in cleaning contaminated gas streams across many sectors, including dramatic efficiency improvements in the $2bn compressed air treatment market, a focus of the company’s early-stage development strategy. The ground-breaking research on which the company was formed was carried out at the University of Bath, funded in part by a £250,000 ‘Brian Mercer Award’ from the Royal Society in 2006.
Colin Billiet, chief executive of n-psl said: “This investment will enable n-psl to progress to the next stage of commercial development. New products are to be introduced to the market using the novel adsorbent hollow fibre technology.”
A second investment is with Base4Innovation Ltd, based in Cambridge, which was formed in late 2008 to develop a radically new method of ultra-fast DNA sequencing using techniques based on silicon chip technology which can easily be scaled up. This high-throughput technology will cut the time and cost of genetic tests, enabling them to be used much more widely in supporting patient diagnosis and treatment.
Co-investors alongside the Enterprise Fund include Base4Innovation’s existing backers Oxford Technology ECFand new investors Sir Martin and Lady Audrey Wood, founders of Oxford Instruments plc.
Regional companies wanting to locate in the North East given new space A new high tech laboratory and incubator space for SME enterprises is to be created from the former Angel Biotechnology Ltd facility at Cramlington in Northumberland.
Specialised incubator units, with web lab provision, will be built. The current facility will be redesigned and converted into multiple occupancy life science incubators.
It will open up opportunities for SME tenants to exploit specialist equipment for molecular biology, bio-process development and cell culture without the associated capital outlay. It will be used for production and downstream processing of biopharmaceutical and clinical products presenting an opportunity for the region to offer a low cost entry point into clinical manufacturing for SMEs.
Contact: Business Link on 0845 600 9006 or visit www.businesslink.gov.uk/northeast.
Strix wins landmark IP court case against two Chinese manufacturing companies This high successful British company that pioneered safety control systems for small domestic appliances – and which now has a hefty slice of the world market – has won an IP action in Beijing.
The cases were filed in Beijing in December 2008 after Strix found that the two manufacturing companies were producing and selling electric control devices containing Strix’s patented technology.
The ruling awarded Strix damages for this type of case tried in this court and demonstrates that foreign companies can – albeit rarely - enforce IP rights through the Chinese legal system.
Defendant companies Zhejiang Jiatai Electrical Appliance Manufacture(Jiatai) and Leqing FaDa Electrical Appliance (FaDa) were found to have infringed Strix’s patent in regard to control technology that automatically switches off electric kettles after the water reaches boiling point.
The Beijing No.1 Intermediate People’s Court awarded Strix a total of 9.1 million Chinese Yuan (£800,000) in damages. Jiatai, a private Chinese enterprise producing kettle controls, was required to pay Strix a total of 7.1 million Yuan, with an additional award of 2 million Yuan made against FaDa, another kettle control manufacturing group.
Strix, founded on the Isle of Man in 1982, is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of safety control systems for small domestic appliances, producing thermostatic controls for two-thirds of the world’s kettles. In 1997, its manufacturing headquarters relocated to Guangzhou in the Guangdong province where the company employs 700 people.
Adrian Samuels, partner at Dehns, the UK patent attorneys who advised Strix, said: ‘There is a perception that enforcing intellectual property rights in China is a challenge for foreign companies. However, this case is testament to the fact that IP rights are gaining increasing importance in China and that both local and foreign companies alike can be protected by the Chinese judiciary.’
www.strix.com FOR YOUR DIARY.. 2010 Fifa World Cup South Africa – the key dates for England’s First Round matches. 12 June: England VS USA
18 June: England VS Algeria
23 June: England VS Slovenia
COMPANY OF THE MONTH It was back in December 2004 when father and son team Nigel and Lee Savage had a brilliant idea - to develop and produce a simple underwater light that never needed a new bulb.
To date, OceanLED Ltd has invested over £2.5m on the research and development of its LED technology. The investment includes new computer software, the appointment of lighting specialists, state-of-the-art machinery, partnerships with leading lighting bodies and rigorous testing processes.
In particular, the company has employed several lighting experts to work in its specialist new optical laboratory. The lab has its own Integrating Sphere, designed to measure the total flux of LEDs, lamps and other light sources, ensuring that accurate measurements of light output can be obtained at all times. T
In less than five years, the company launched by this illuminating initiative - OceanLED of Warwickshire - has changed the way boaters around the world viewed the night.
The firm now has offices on three continents. The company broke new ground with its 2005 introduction of the Ocean LED Thru-Hull lighting systems - the first to require only a 1-inch hole. A family of new products based on this technology opened up premium underwater lighting to new classes and categories of vessels. With patent protection on all its products, an aggressive R&D programme, OceanLED intends to stay ahead of competitors worldwide. Its recently introduced OceanLED Amphibians line, the first marine LED lighting system specifically designed for use above and below the water, as the product name would suggest, OceanLED Amphibians can easily be used anywhere a bright, reliable light is needed.
Whether lighting up dark waters, providing illumination on deck or in the engine room, or even mounted on the trailer or tow vehicle for nighttime launching/retrieval, these innovative lights do it all - brilliantly.
Contact: OceanLED Ltd: Lee Savage - firstname.lastname@example.org.
SMALL COMPANY NEWS Scitech Precision is latest spinout from Science and Technology Facilities Council A company which combines unique expertise in micro engineering and design to make ultra-precise parts for laser experiments is the result of 30 years of experience at the laboratory, making it unique within Europe.
The spinout from the STFC supplies complex, multi-material assemblies or “targets” for high power laser experiments on laser facilities across the world. These micron scale targets act as the “sample” for investigations into the physics of extreme conditions comparable to temperatures and pressures at the centre of the sun; they are at the forefront of research into laser-induced fusion as a potential energy source and particle beam therapies for cancer treatment.
Professor Mike Dunne, Director of STFC’s Central Laser Facility said “The parts made by the company will allow pioneering high power laser research into fundamentally important areas such as security, healthcare and renewable energy.”
Dr Kate Ronayne, Director of Scitech Precision, said “The targets require extremely precise machining and assembly techniques, and often involve complex bespoke requirements. We believe the long track record of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in this field is invaluable to the company and that we can make a significant impact to the science goals of the community.” Examples of areas where this technology is being demonstrated are in the development of the proposed HiPER project which aims to develop an alternative renewable energy source in the future using laser fusion.
Professor Dimitri Batanifrom the University of Milan in Italy is one of Europe’s leading scientists in this field, and oversees the experimental validation program for HiPER. He said “Scitech Precision is working closely with us to develop novel target geometries which allow us to understand the mechanisms behind inertial fusion energy and how best to harness this energy to create a sustainable fuel source for the future. The team’s experience in understanding the scientific aims of an experiment and designing bespoke targets to achieve them is important to the HiPER project and for laser fusion research in general”.
Laser targets are tiny two or three dimensional objects typically no more than 50 microns to a few millimeters in size (the width of a human hair is usually 80-100 microns). The targets often require a unique combination of high precision technologies to come together to create the unusual objects.
Targets are typically assembled from a number of smaller individual components and a variety of materials including plastics, fibres, foils, metals and silicon. Once constructed, the tiny target is placed at the focus of the laser beam. Different targets are used to investigate varying interactions in each experiment so the targets are assembled to meet the experiment’s individual requirements. By changing the nature of the target, it is possible to carry out more sophisticated physics and open up new research areas. Research into cancer therapy, for example, uses thin foils to generate ion beams whereas cone targets are typically used in laser induced fusion experiments. Another contact is Prof Mike Dunne, Director of STFC’s Central Laser Facility, RAL - email@example.com - 01235 446 913.
Baxter snaps up ApaTech – the UK’s leading regenerative medicine company On March 1st, Baxter International Inc, the international healthcare company, acquired ApaTech, a private equity-backed, orthobiologic products company for a total consideration ‘of up to $330 million’.
As a result of the acquisition, Baxter will acquire Actifuse, a silicate substituted calcium phosphate synthetic bone graft material which is currently marketed in the US, EU, and other select markets around the world, and manufacturing and R&D facilities located in the UK, US and Germany.
Ron Lloyd, vice president of BioTherapeutics and Regenerative Medicine, Baxter, said “This is a significant step in enhancing Baxter’s position in the rapidly growing orthobiologics space, and our leadership in regenerative medicine. ACTIFUSE will allow us to immediately enter the emerging bone fusion category, and ApaTech’s product pipeline is highly complementary to our existing commercial and technical capabilities in biosurgery.”
ApaTech generated sales of approximately $60 million in calendar year 2009. Baxter and ApaTech personnel will work to ensure uninterrupted operations, product distribution and ongoing support and service for ApaTech customers, distributors and business partners, and seamless integration of the business into Baxter.
Simon Cartmell is CEO of ApaTech. The agreement includes an upfront cash payment by Baxter of $240 million. Baxter may make additional payments of up to $90 million related to the achievement of sales milestones.
ApaTech’s current major shareholders are Encore Ventures (a division of DFJ Esprit) and US investor Healthcor Partners. Other shareholders include MTI, which provided the early stage capital, founder shareholders and members of ApaTech’s management team. www.apatech.com - Simon Cartmell: 020 8731 4640.
Waste recycling technology company Sterecycle raises £10 million The new funding will eventually double capacity at its Rotherham plant, from 100,000 to 200,000 tonnes a year - and build new plants in other parts of the country.
Funds for the expansion have come from institutional and retail investors as well as the company’s existing investors and brings the total equity funding raised since Sterecycle was founded seven years ago to £34m.
Founder Duncan Grierson said: “This latest round confirms that, despite the challenging economic environment, there is considerable interest in waste treatment technology. Our proven process, now operating at commercial scale for over 18 months, is ripe for rolling out around the UK.”
Sterecycle plans to use some of the money to increase the capacity of its existing plant, on a former British Steel site in Rotherham, from 100,000 to 200,000 tonnes a year before the end of 2010 and increase the number of staff working at the plant from 37 to 57. The company also plans to develop its second site, at Cardiff in Wales, which is expected to be operational in 2011, creating a further 60 jobs and wants to build further plants across the UK during the next few years.
Sterecycle’s technology sterilises unsorted household and commercial waste in giant ovens, called autoclaves, into which steam is pumped while the pressure is increased and the ovens rotate. Organic waste is broken down into a fibre which can be used for generating renewable energy, land restoration and even for making cardboard boxes.
Non-organic waste is easily separated from the fibre and sent for recycling. The combination of steam and autoclaving has been used on a small scale for sterilising medical waste and its development for processing household waste has been driven by pressure to find green alternatives to burying waste in landfill sites.
Sterecycle also announced that Tom Shields is to succeed Duncan Grierson as chief executive to lead the expansion programme. Mr Shields has more than 30 years’ experience in the chemicals sector. He was managing director of KemFine, a specialty chemicals business with a turnover of £45 million and 262 staff and was manufacturing director at global business Avecia, where he was responsible for 12 manufacturing sites in five countries, before spinning out its fine chemicals business.
Mr Grierson said: “The UK waste sector is becoming a sophisticated process engineering industry, akin to the chemicals sector which is also highly regulated and with heavy capital investment requirements, so Tom’s experience is ideally suited.”