This joint event organised by both the Biochemical Engineering Special Interest Group (BESIG) within the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) and the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre’s (IBioIC) Scottish Fermentation network (SFN), is being hosted at The University of Strathclyde’s Technology Innovation Centre (TIC) in Glasgow.
The majority of organic chemicals, nutraceuticals, fuels and polymers are still derived from fossil-based feedstocks, predominantly oil and gas. Advances in molecular biology techniques and an increased awareness and understanding of many emerging microorganisms, engineering biology methods and bio-based feedstocks, are now allowing scientists and engineers to rethink how the chemicals of the future are produced.
This one-day conference will look to bring together those with an interest in chemistry, biology, engineering and entrepreneurship, which are all the skills that will be needed to transition chemical production to bio-based methods using bio-based feedstocks. Talks will feature a range of speakers from universities and industry, covering a range of sectors looking to address this conversion. Featuring not just how they are addressing technical challenges, but also how to scale these to production, supported by several organisations that can help support with their services from cell identification to engineering and de-risking scale-up.
The Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance (SULSA) supports life scientists from across the breadth of life sciences research from animal, human, microbe and plant research. This two day conference is open to students and staff from within the 13 SULSA members as well as external partners in the private and public sector and will focus on industry engagement, for both collaborative R&D and employability.
Day one will focus on industry-academia collaboration with ample opportunities to network with commercially minded academics, industry open to collaboration and organisations that can support.
Day two will focus on employability and skills development and run similar to a recruitment fair providing the chance for talented and proactive undergraduate and postgraduate students and staff to network with life sciences employers.
Interface Director Amelia Whitelaw will be speaking on Day 1 on Bringing the Right People Together Across Industry and Academia and we will also be exhibiting, we look forward to seeing you there.
All information can be found here.
The SCOUT Project, in partnership with PwC UK LLP, is running an innovation clinic for SME leaders and line managers to gain insights from industry experts on what lies ahead for the sector and how SMEs can best take advantage of upcoming future opportunities. Topics up for discussion will include; Designing your operating model; R&D Tax Credits and incentives; Moving into manufacturing and Getting support.
In addition, attendees will also be granted a guided tour of the new, state-of-the-art Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre, hearing first-hand about the exciting work already underway within this world leading, carbon neutral facility – including how cutting edge technologies are delivering; a reduction of API, solvent and energy usage in manufacturing; leveraging digital twins to maximise operational efficiency; and reducing <50% wastage in automated clinical trial manufacture.
Spaces are limited, and demand is expected to be high, so book your place today by emailing ERDF.SCOUT@uk-cpi.com.
The SCOUT Project is a fully funded service which aims to accelerate and de-risk the growth of Scottish SMEs in chemical, biochemical and life science sectors, who are seeking or developing disruptive technologies and is jointly funded by the European Regional Development Fund (managed by Scottish Enterprise) CPI, CMAC Future Manufacturing Research Hub (CMAC) and the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC).
Join Innovate UK KTN at the University of Strathclyde Technology and Innovation Centre to explore all things microbiome across the One Health Microbiome spectrum including human, animal, plant, and environment.
Bringing these sectors together is an opportunity to learn from each other and make new connections.
The conference will explore common challenges and discuss how the community can work together to make the UK a key destination in Europe for microbiome research and innovation.
There will also be an opportunity for early-stage microbiome entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas to find new partners.
- Meet with leading microbiome researchers and innovators from academia and industry.
- Learn about advances being made in microbiome research and innovation across different sectors.
- Understand common challenges and solutions across the different sectors involved in microbiome research and innovation.
- Hear from some of the UK’s pioneering microbiome start-ups and experts in IP, regulatory and manufacturing.
- Forge new connections and collaborations that could fast-track your research or project.
- Join the UK’s microbiome innovation community.
This event is for:
- Industry scientists
- Supporting organisations
Launching the new Centre for Engineering Biology at the University of Edinburgh. See the world-leading specialist research facilities including Edinburgh Genome Foundry, the world’s largest automated DNA assembly platform, and EdinOmics, for mass spectrometry, metabolomics and proteomics analysis and hear first-hand about current research and meet some of our key research staff. The morning will include short presentations on how the Centre is driving innovation in many markets including industrial biotechnology (e.g. bioremediation and biofuels), agriculture, the environment, and medicine and healthcare.
The new Centre brings together a community of more than 50 research groups and 200 researchers spanning biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, engineering, informatics, medicine and social sciences from the former Centre for Synthetic and Systems Biology (SynthSys) and the UK Centre for Mammalian Synthetic Biology.
The event will include an opportunity to visit the world-leading Edinburgh Genome Foundry (the world’s largest and most automated platform for DNA assembly) and the EdinOmics research facility (for mass spectrometry, metabolomics and proteomics analysis). These highly specialist facilities make a significant contribution to making Scotland the go-to destination to incubate and grow bioeconomy businesses to scale. The research facilities at the University of Edinburgh are unparalleled in Scotland and we seek to constantly evolve our research environment to allow the best ideas to thrive, push frontiers, deliver economic impact and drive sustainability.
Researchers at the University of Dundee have developed a novel method for the recovery of DNA from cotton swabs.
The basis of the invention is the development of a novel method for the recovery of DNA from cotton swabs of which there are many variants used depending on the source the DNA is being extracted from. The current yield of DNA from the kits is in the range of 20-40%. The kit method requires the swabs to be digested in extraction buffer for an hour or more for removal of the buffer from the swab, the addition to a silica column followed by several buffer washes and then finally elution in Tris buffer, samples are then analysed by PCR. This new method relies on one step elution by incubating the swabs in 200-250ul of elution buffer in a spin basket to extract the buffer and DNA from the swab. The collected material is suitable for direct analysis by PCR. There is an optional step of washing the swabs in 70% ethanol before the addition of the elution buffer to remove contaminants. Analysis to date has shown recovery yields from this method are in the region of 70-90%.
The higher the amount of DNA that can be recovered from the swab, the better the PCR analysis to identify the DNA for associated review. Current methods of eluting DNA from swabs do not have high rates of recovery as mentioned previously. This invention can recover in excess of 70% DNA from cotton swabs in a simpler and more cost-effective process.
- This method has a significantly higher chance of producing valid results due to the increased DNA yields
- This method is cheaper than existing standards
- The new extraction process involves fewer steps so is simpler to perform and analyse
The University of Dundee has a UK Patent Application No 2020576.1 on the 24th December 2020 covering this technology.
The University of Dundee is seeking a commercial partner to develop this technology to a market ready product including potential licensing for industrial exploitation.
Touchless Innovation, trading as Sanodaf, is a company that specialises in advanced disinfection and decontamination technology. Their aim is to create, design and manufacture innovative processes and products to help eradicate micro-organisms and infections that can cause health issues in everyday life for people and animals. They have experience of disinfection and decontamination as a service company and were looking at new devices to enhance current hygiene technology.
With expertise in environmental decontamination, Touchless Innovation developed a novel prototype of an easy-to-understand and cost-effective hand-hygiene device. It was based on the simple principle of using ultraviolet to kill micro-organisms that are commonly found on hands, specifically using UV-C which is proven technology for eradicating pathogens. The prototype was a hand sanitiser unit that prompted the user to place their hands inside an aperture that delivered a short transmission of UV-C directly onto hand surfaces. The unit was automated and, upon entry, a timed exposure to UV-C would be experienced by the skin. It was a touchless process and the unit would indicate when hands could be removed. The entire process was delivered quickly and without any noise or residue.
Specialist UV-C devices are used in laboratory settings but there was not an accessible device for everyday use. The creation of this device would allow people to efficiently sanitise hands without access to washing facilities and within a much-shortened time period.
The company did not have the required expertise to test the device and demonstrate the intended claim that it kills 99.9% of MRSA after a short exposure on the hands and that it was also safe for human exposure. The practical work to test the device required a respected Category 2 laboratory facility and testing by an independent body for credibility.
Interface connected Stuart White, Director of Touchless Innovation, with Edinburgh Napier University as it had the laboratories, expertise and bacterial strains required to carry out the microbiological aspects of the work. This collaborative project was funded by a Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher.
The results of the project allowed the company to identify any potential areas for design improvements and confidently market the device as a high volume, commercial product. Given the robustness and limited cost, it was considered that the portable version of this device would have an immediate market, both domestically and internationally.
The success of this product would improve the ability to sanitise hands in everyday situations to fight infections and ill health and would create jobs in Scotland where the device would be manufactured. The product had wide market appeal and the company’s intention was to expand globally into other markets where hygiene is poor and access to clean water restricted.
The company also planned to have a version of the device to be used in disaster situations where there was no power or clean water and a high risk of illness and infection spread.
It has been a privilege to work with the team at Napier; they have shown a high level of interest in the project from day one and demonstrated a very professional level of competency in undertaking the project, and in publishing the final result. This now leaves my company able to grow and expand with this product and I hope to be able to work with the team at Napier again. The result of this collaboration will make a very positive impact as we can now press ahead with the creation of working prototypes and move closer to releasing this product onto the market place. We are aiming to sell it in the UK and overseas and this will be a significant step for us as an SME (small or medium-sized enterprise). Stuart White, Director, Touchless Innovation
It was an excellent experience working with Touchless Innovation. The partner was extremely enthusiastic about their product but also realistic with the aims of this project. I look forward to working with them again. Dr Nick Wheelhouse, School of Applied Sciences, Edinburgh Napier University
Touchless Innovation Ltd was shortlisted for the Innovation of the Year award at The Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards 2019.
Follow-On Activity – Advanced Innovation Voucher
Following on from their initial project with Edinburgh Napier University, Touchless Innovation were looking to collaborate with a university partner to verify that electrostatic spraying of hydrogen peroxide was a more efficient method of decontaminating hospital rooms than fogging, the current standard method used in the NHS. Interface was able to successfully connect them to the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) where the company had access to the University’s specialist category 11 containment facilities, including the facilities required to undertake testing of the fogging and electrostatic spray disinfection delivery systems. This project was funded by a Scottish Funding Council Advanced Innovation Voucher.
The results of the project confirmed the company’s expectations as well as highlighting some additional considerations for future treatments and applications. A full submission of the results was made to the NHS and Health Improvement Scotland.
Follow-On Activity – KTP
The current approach to disinfection/decontamination utilises two separate units: a fogging system and an electrostatic sprayer; the former being used to transform the disinfectant liquid into a dry fog for areas that can be effectively sealed off, and the latter which adds a negative electrostatic charge to the solution ensuring it surrounds and adheres to all surfaces it touches (for open-area use where traditional fogging would not be appropriate).
As the company had no engineering capability, they formed a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with UWS to develop a unique combined fogging and electrostatic spray disinfectant device for commercial use – two different technologies to run from one power source. This would underpin rapid business expansion and ensure the UK is at the forefront of market-led technology, addressing both societal and economic impacts of poor hygiene control within public and private buildings.
Business – Prior to the KTP, the business was dependent on external suppliers/market forces, limiting the control of their own direction. The KTP has enabled the business to become a manufacturer of their own device, allowing them to compete in a wider market and decide their own path.
They have benefitted greatly from being involved in the process of designing and creating a new concept for a device and then being able to carry this through to product build and test. The process has helped the business understand manufacturing and the issues around supply chain, in-house and external expertise and how these are linked in the creation of a new product.
Finally, the investment has enabled the business to acquire the global Sanondaf brand, operating across multiple territories and with ready-made customers for their new combined electrostatic/fogging unit.
Academic – The project, based on an Advanced Innovation Voucher, allowed a strengthening of the relationship with a fast-growing business as well as providing an opportunity for cross-school collaboration between the School of Health and Life Sciences and the School of Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences. In addition, the project provided an opportunity for:
- Demonstrating research impact for downstream REF reporting and publications
- Impact against UN Sustainable Development Growths in line with corporate strategy
- Further KTP portfolio growth for School and UWS in line with 2025 strategy
- Potential for further collaboration with the business.
Our experience of the KTP scheme, working with UWS, and the support on offer from Innovate UK has been exceptional and we are on the cusp of rapid business expansion as a result. I would thoroughly recommend the programme to any ambitious business that is looking to innovate and embed new knowledge within their organisation. Having seen the capabilities of the model, we are already framing a potential follow on KTP – Stuart White.
Touchless Innovation Ltd was shortlisted for the Innovation of the Year award at The Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards 2022.
CogniHealth is an Edinburgh-based health-tech company that creates digital solutions for long-term conditions. With a current focus on dementia, their aim is to improve the quality of lives of families affected by dementia.
Their flagship solution, CogniCare, is a digital companion for dementia carers. The CogniCare app empowers carers with an array of resources and activities that cover all aspects of dementia care in one place. It uses artificial intelligence (AI) to drive personalised dementia care support with the aim to reduce the affected family’s financial, physical and psychological burden.
This healthcare app also allows carers to monitor and track disease progression and gain comprehensive insights through the reports generated; enabling them to communicate better and more accurately with healthcare professionals.
Pooja Jain, a neuroscientist and co-founder of CogniHealth, was referred by Business Gateway to Louise Arnold at Interface. CogniHealth was seeking to strengthen the monitor-and-track functionality and add interactive features to the CogniCare app.
While the resources available through CogniCare were successful in informing carers about dementia, delivering care and self-care, the way in which carers could document dementia symptoms through the app was tedious at times and not aligned to medical standards. This made it difficult to provide personalised care.
Louise and CogniHealth agreed that working with academic experts who understand how dementia is detected, and how it is monitored in its progression, would help CogniHealth develop a better understanding of the parameters healthcare professionals would find informative. This would ensure they capture the right type of information, confirm its accuracy, and help deliver an effective personalised care treatment plan. After a project outline was scoped up and issued to various universities in Scotland, Louise was able to identify relevant expertise at the University of the Highlands & Islands (UHI). UHI have unique expertise in the care of older adults and the dementia care sector with a deep understanding of the various aspects of care provision for people affected by dementia.
CogniHealth and UHI worked together to capture relevant clinical, cognitive, functional and behavioural parameters within CogniCare that could provide key information to both family carers and healthcare professionals. Family carers would be able to track the most relevant symptoms over time in an accurate and interactive manner.
The project was funded by a Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher.
Both parties have benefitted from the exchange of knowledge as well as the co-production of an enhanced product that will have a tangible impact on dementia care.
Company – One of the significant outputs from this project was the development of a framework for practical day-to-day assessments and monitoring on symptom escalation by family carers of people living with dementia at home. This feature of the app could enhance carers’ competence and confidence in early identification of relevant symptoms; enabling professionals to provide early intervention to prevent unnecessary hospitalisation. There are currently no tools that enable this kind of interaction with all those involved within the dementia care triad (the PwD, the carer and the professional).
CogniHealth aims to build partnerships with organisations across the UK, and this project provided a unique opportunity to develop such a partnership with the University of Highlands and Islands.
University – The project added value to two Dementia PhD students with learning opportunities around academic – industry partnership working and project management skills. Outputs from this project included a virtual conference presentation at the Alzheimer’s Disease International Conference in December 2020 and the following publication in the Journal of Working with Older people:
Macaden, L., Muirhead, K., Melchiorre, G., Mantle, R., Ditta, G. and Giangreco, A., 2020. Relationship-centred CogniCare: an academic–digital–dementia care experts’ interface. Working with Older People.
Scottish Economy – The societal and economic costs of dementia are detrimental to society. The Scottish economy is not only impacted by the health and social care costs of dementia, but also the loss of a valuable workforce who may become full or part-time carers for a family member with dementia. Enabling the delivery of improved care, prevention and early intervention can reduce costs, while also keeping potential carers in the workforce for longer.
In April 2020, Louise connected CogniHealth to the University of Edinburgh Advanced Care Research Centre. The project was funded via the Data-Driven Innovation Programme* to apply data-driven-innovation ideas in support of communities, services and businesses, in response to the COVID pandemic. An award of £15k was made to the University of Edinburgh Medical School to build a ‘soothing’ feature within the CogniCare app. The new feature enables users to access and view soothing images. These images will be sourced from an existing database of 800 images that have been collected from the public and have previously been shown to help improve people’s mood and help fight mental health issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 lock down. Users will be able to personalise the images based on their preferences (e.g. themes, colours) and tell CogniCare how they feel and the impact the imagery has had to their mental health.
* The Data-Driven Innovation initiative aims to help organisations and all our citizens benefit from the data revolution. Working together to deliver the 15-year programme are the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University, whose researchers will collaborate with industry on data partnerships in the public, private and third sectors. This is part of the Edinburgh & South-East Scotland City Regional Deal.
Vanilla Blush is a Glasgow-based medical lingerie business founded by a former nurse, Nicola Dames. The business specialises in garments for people living with a colostomy, ileostomy or a urostomy, which are all categorised as stomas. Approximately 102,000 individuals live with an excretory stoma in the UK, with around 21,000 individuals undergoing stoma-forming surgery each year.
Having a stoma herself, Nicola embarked on her first business venture to develop a new line of underwear for females and males who have suffered from similar conditions. The Vanilla Blush unique underwear is carefully designed with those individuals in mind and comes in a range of colours and sizes with a built-in pouch to conceal the bag.
Listed as a Class 1 Medical Device, the Vanilla Blush garments are supplied to the NHS throughout the UK and are also exported to 18 other countries around the world.
A bowel stoma is an artificial opening on the surface of the abdomen that has been surgically created in order to divert the flow of enteric or faecal matter into an external bag. The most common underlying conditions that may require the formation of a bowel stoma include colorectal cancer, diverticular disease, incontinence and inflammatory bowel disease. One of the most frequent complications following stoma creation is parastomal hernia which occurs when an internal part of the body pushes through a weakness in the muscle or surrounding tissue wall. The UK Association of Stoma Care Nurses recommends ‘belts/underwear’ ‘to aid prevention of hernias and offer abdominal muscle support.
Nicola Dames was keen to better understand the individual’s experiences of living with a stoma and usage of support garments. To do so, she appointed a Stoma Care Specialist Nurse who was visiting the nurses responsible for these groups of patients to get an understanding of what advice they give around two key issues:
- Exercise with a stoma; and
- Support garments.
Following a referral from Scottish Enterprise, Nicola got in touch with Interface to seek help in finding an academic partner to investigate the following:
- Engage with the findings of their Stoma Care Specialist Nurse’s product outreach and trials.
- Understand why support belts are being prescribed for hernia patients.
Working with Ruth Oliver at Interface, Vanilla Blush was successfully matched with the right academic partner at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) to complete the first study, exploring people’s experiences of support garments following bowel stoma formation.
The Department of Nursing at UHI has a thriving health and well-being research group that includes nurses, midwives and behavioural scientists. The current research programme in the Department of Nursing is about physical activity in people who have a stoma. This programme is led by Dr Gill Hubbard, an accomplished researcher, behavioural scientist and Director of Research in the Department of Nursing at UHI.
Dr Hubbard has excellent research partnerships with the Colostomy Association and Ileostomy and Internal Pouch Support Group, as well as Bowel and Cancer Research. She also has a thriving Stoma Patient Advisory Group. Dr Hubbard’s essential expertise enabled Vanilla Blush to address the gaps in their evidence about support garments during physical activity, to reduce the risk of hernia in people who have a bowel stoma.
As a concept, brand and company, Vanilla Blush embodies both the patient’s perspective and academic enterprise, which is required for an ethically-based efficient business offering an economically beneficial service to the NHS.
The key findings from this project resulted in multiple academic manuscripts and have been presented at various industry-leading conferences throughout the UK and Europe. The full publication is available here.