Swansea University showcases innovation projects

Economy Minister Edwina Hart today (23 March 2016) visited the Swansea University’s Institute of Life Science to celebrate that Wales has attracted record investment for innovation projects

Wales has attracted over £50m from Innovate UK in the current financial year – a record figure - bringing the total committed to over £100m during the Welsh Government’s current term of office.

These latest figures were announced today by Economy Minister Edwina Hart who said the Science for Wales and Innovation Wales strategies and the subsequent creation of the Innovation Council for Wales, had all contributed to help achieve this success. The substantial investment in a number of key strategic projects will, the Minister said, have a significant long term impact on the economy. 

Edwina Hart Keith Lloyd and Steve Conlan

On her visit to the Institute of Life Science Mrs Hart met several highly innovative, technology driven companies. They have successfully leveraged over £3m in Innovate UK funding, as well as benefitting from Welsh Government support.

The Minister also welcomed the news that Innovate UK is to open an office in Wales to raise awareness of funding opportunities available and work closely with Welsh Government, academia and industry.

Commenting on the investment figures, the Minister said:

Innovation Wales emphasised the need to improve collaboration between businesses, academia and others looking to access UK and EU funding streams.

“Today’s record figures clearly illustrate that this message is getting across and delivering results. In total more than 530 projects have benefited from £50m of Innovate UK funding during the Welsh Government’s current term in office.

Innovation Wales also underlined the need to recognize and exploit our strengths and to build on our distinct and genuine areas of excellence identified in Science for Wales.

“Those areas of excellence are now all benefitting from Innovate UK funding and include our priority economic sectors ranging from Life Sciences and Health to Advanced Engineering and Materials.”

The Minister stated that innovation is the key to the future success of the Welsh economy and that in order to grow, Welsh businesses must evolve, and to evolve they must innovate.

Mrs Hart said: “It is not just about new technologies; it is about successfully applying them to the markets of the future in order to achieve commercial success. Tackling this journey from concept to commercialisation, and to share some of the risk is where Innovate UK and Welsh Government step in.  

“Welsh Government and Innovate UK work together to provide support for innovative SMEs with high-growth potential and help innovative companies work with their investors so their ideas can be developed commercially. These successful companies at ILS are benefiting from that support and we will build on the encouraging growth of Welsh success in securing Innovate UK funding.”

The Minister met representatives from the following companies during her visit to ILS, Swansea University:

TrakCel

The company has developed a cell therapy process management solution to improve clinical study efficacy and integrate the supply chain from end-to-end.  As winners of Innovate UK Medical Technologies Launchpad competition, they had funding for a project in collaboration with the Cell Therapy Catapult.

In January this year, TrakCel was awarded €420,000 (approx. £315,000) from the European Commission to bring its expertise to an international project aimed at developing technology that could change the way cancer is treated.

The company recently expanded their operations, creating 20 jobs as a result of £125,000 funding from Welsh Government to support the commercial roll out of the company’s pioneering cell tracking system software.

Bionema

The company is a leading independent research organisation providing product development, product testing, consulting and training services to the agrochemical and bio pesticide industry.

Bionema is one of the very few organisations specialising in chemical-free crop protection.

The company is at the forefront of large scale testing and is registering a product in both the UK and EU that can reduce or even eliminate conventional chemical pesticides in the near future.

A new product - an entomopathogenic fungus (EPF), was the focus of a Welsh Government supported SMARTCymru Technical and Commercial Feasibility grant last year. 

Haemaflow

The company develops respiratory aids that mimic the performance of healthy lungs in patients with respiratory problems.  To do so, it had to develop novel technologies not yet commercially available, including new instruments for measuring gas compositions and for measuring the propensity of blood to clot.  

Thanks to an award from Innovate UK, followed by a further £56,077 SMARTCymru grant, Haemaflow has two new research engineers, new offices and laboratory space. This is enabling it to improve the design of its device and optimize its use.

Jellagen

The company was founded in May 2013 to supply medical grade collagen products to the medical device, regenerative medicine, in vitro diagnostic and derma care markets. 

Collagen is a highly valued biomaterial that is used in the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.  It is used for the discovery and development of synthetic organs, aesthetic procedures and personal healthcare products

Innovate UK funding has helped the company improve and scale up its manufacturing processes, provide access to world class research collaborators which has assisted towards the market launch of its current research grade collagen products

The Company secured a £400,000 investment from Finance Wales in February 2014, with an additional £150,000 from the Xenos Angel Network in April. Since then, it has been supported by a SMARTCymru grant.

Biovici

Biovici's mission is to develop proactive healthcare by providing Point-of-Care products and solutions that provide immediate results to enable healthcare providers to offer better patient management. 

Biovici's products can be used without the need for a costly lab based environment and can be used in or outside the hospital. 

It received an Innovation Voucher funding from Welsh Government in May 2014 to develop a cortisol testing device.  An elevated level of Cortisol is a pre cursor to a wide range of diseases including high blood pressure and heart disease.

Biovici has now developed a biometric analyser. The prototype hand-held device has the capability not only to match but outperform the expensive laboratory tests. The test itself is saliva based and works on a similar principal to that of blood glucose monitors that use disposable strips. It is currently developing the next generation of Point-of-Care diagnostic devices and has won two SBRI awards.

GP Commissioning Solutions

The company design and build solutions designed to identify patients most suitable for medical intervention.

A recent project that uses new technologies, including social media and mobile applications, will allow patients to safely engage with their medical history and understand, in lay terms, what they and their doctor/carer should be doing according to current medical guidelines. 

Market research for the project included; current customers, NHS Wales, NHS clients, the pharmaceutical industry and the NHS Confederation.

The company is a SBRI winner for a project with Abertawe Bro Morgannwg UniversityHealth Board (ABMU) and has had several interactions with the Welsh Government and Innovate UK. 

WePredict

Formed in 2009 with help from the Welsh Government, We Predict has since grown into a global leader in predictive analytics, predominantly serving the automotive industry. It now uses these core skills in predictive analytics to enter health a and policing markets.

WePredict has won two Welsh SBRI Stage One contracts with ABMU and South Wales police and went on to win a larger Stage Two demonstrator with ABMU. On the back on their Welsh success, they were successful with a NHS England SBRI

Chromatrap®

Chromatrap® is a product of Porvair Sciences Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Porvair plc. It is one of the largest manufacturers of Ultra-Clean microplate filtration handling equipment for life science and synthetic chemistry.

Porvair has offices and clean-room manufacturing facilities in the UK and a distribution hub in the USA, and offers OEM production and contract manufacturing from its North Wales facility.

The company’s research has opened up many possibilities in the field of Bio-Sciences where molecules such as DNA, RNA, and proteins can be selectively extracted from complex biological origins.