Innovators at four UK universities have been awarded £85,000 to develop spin-off businesses from their research.
The Royal Academy of Engineering has awarded five Enterprise Fellowships, part of the Academy’s Enterprise Hub that goes live today, with each awardee being given funding and mentoring from Academy Fellows to spend 12 months exclusively committed to commercialising their research.
The projects chosen range from printable lasers designed to help stop the sale of counterfeit goods to new technology for food safety testing as well as healthcare solutions.
Ian Shott, chair of the selection panel, said: “It is fundamental to the wellbeing of the engineering sector which will drive growth of the UK economy that researchers are given support to create the next generation of businesses based on effective innovations.
“Business-minded engineers need investment and support from experienced industry practitioners to exploit their research, filling gaps in the market and providing solutions to industry problems, which could become the commercial success stories of tomorrow.
“This is why activities such as the Enterprise Fellowships and the Academy’s new Enterprise Hub are so important."
This is the second year of the scheme, with individuals from the first cohort already forming companies and attracting significant investment, such as Dr Susannah Clarke, who developed a surgical implement used in hip replacement operations.
She has established a spin-out company, Embody, conducted 15 surgeries with the device during her Fellowship and is now supplying her products to an orthopaedic company.
Among this year’s five Enterprise Fellows are Dr Adar Pelah, from the University of York, who has created StroMoHab, virtual reality technology for rehabilitation of gait-impairing conditions including stroke.
Dr Stephen Smith, also from the University of York, will receive support to commercialise his technology to measure dyskinesia, involuntary movements caused by the most effective medication for Parkinson’s, using evolutionary algorithms.
The University of Cambridge’s Dr Damian Gardiner will be given backing to bring printable laser technology to tackle the counterfeiting of products from banknotes to pharmaceuticals and consumer products to market.
Dr Ruchi Gupta, from the University of Manchester, has been working in the expensive area of drug discovery and disease diagnostics and he will be supported in developing a low-cost, customisable, disposable plastic device and readout instrument.
The final Fellowship goes to Professor Janice Kiely at UWE who has developed novel bio-sensing test kits for detection of pathogens such as Salmonella, E. Coli and Listeria, and other adulterants harmful to human health, which aims to make the detection of food contamination faster, more reliable and more affordable.