Bubble FLO® has created a fun, child friendly, visually engaging, and effective physiotherapy medical device the Bubble FLO® PEP (Positive Expiratory Pressure) Device for the treatment of chronic lung conditions.
Bubble FLO® was set up by Katie Vance to develop a child friendly, engaging and effective physiotherapy medical device- a Bubble Positive Expiratory Pressure (PEP) Device for the treatment of chronic lung conditions.
Positive-expiratory-pressure (PEP) therapy is a respiratory therapy that applies resistance to expiration, to produce positive airway pressure. Since the 1930s, PEP has been used to improve oxygenation, increase lung volume and reduce venous return in patients with congestive heart failure. PEP improves collateral ventilation, secretion clearance, aerosol distribution and functional residual capacity. (Respiratory Care:April 2009, Vol 54, No.4)
The idea of creating a Bubble PEP device evolved when Katie’s daughter was diagnosed with a lifelong respiratory condition and the equipment supplied to carry out vital twice daily physiotherapy was very basic and lacked visual engagement for children. Katie discovered there was no specific Paediatric equipment available, so she decided to develop a Bubble PEP Device which was fun, engaging and effective in clearing secretions from the lungs, and that was aesthetically pleasing, easily portable and easy to empty and re-fill.
The technology did not exist to meet these key practical needs and Katie recognised that such a product could be revolutionary in this critical field. The prototype that she developed was given very positive feedback from physiotherapists who worked with Katie’s daughter, and they expressed a need for a similar device for use by other patients and so Bubble FLO® was born.
To develop the concept Katie contacted Interface, who, after putting out a search to Scotland’s universities and research institutes, partnered her with Kath Sharp, NHS Team Lead in Paediatric physiotherapy at Glasgow Caledonian University, (who introduced the technique to the West of Scotland and acted as a consultant on the project), and Professor Terence Gourlay, from the University of Strathclyde’s Biomedical Engineering Department, who has extensive experience in the design, development and commercialisation of medical devices.
This collaborative project, funded by a Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher, focused on the development of a novel respiratory improvement technology aimed at the paediatric sector, but based on known and well-established approaches. The novelty in the proposed approach is centred around making what can be a tiresome therapy for children, fun and engaging.
The experience the Department of Biomedical Engineering has in the production of laboratory, test-ready prototype devices was applied to the project to produce near clinically deliverable prototypes of the proposed technology which were then successfully tested under laboratory conditions.
Subsequently Bubble FLO® was awarded a By Design Grant from Scottish Enterprise, which allowed the prototype design and ergonomics to be developed further.
Through the support of South of Scotland Enterprise, Bubble FLO® worked with an engineer to develop manufacturing tools, create 40 prototypes and completed bio burden and chemical compatibility testing.
Regulatory work has been completed with the support of CPI and Innovate UK to ensure the product is suitable for use.
BubbleFLO are hoping to start clinical trials with the West of Scotland Innovation Hub at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow soon.
Interface have continued to assist Bubble FLO® brokering collaborations with the University of Strathclyde to create a brand and marketing strategy to target families of children with respiratory conditions and with Edinburgh Napier University to develop a “How to Set Up and Use” animated video with the aim of using animated characters to turn what can be a very daunting experience for a child into a fun and engaging one.
As the Bubble FLO® PEP Device will be more engaging for children than the current NHS equipment; children will be much more motivated to carry out effective physiotherapy sessions and, in turn, this has the potential to save the NHS budget considerably through a reduction in hospital admissions for respiratory treatment.
Whilst initially, sales of the Bubble FLO® PEP Device will be to parents online, it is hoped the NHS will purchase this new medical equipment as a long-term investment to reduce their overall budget after completion of an upcoming clinical trial with the West of Scotland Innovation Hub, Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow.
The development of the proposed technology will underpin the foundation of the commercial activity around this novel product. The company have benefitted from the University’s expertise in the development of prototypes, their laboratory evaluation and expertise in tooling design and production of the medical devices.
Subsequent collaborations have provided Bubble FLO® with a marketing and targeting strategy and produced a novel animated guide for children and parents to be able to use the device at home.
The academic partner has benefitted through this new research activity in the paediatric respiratory sector and in the use of this project as a case study for teaching purposes. In addition, the project fits very well with the Department’s objective of being supportive of the Scottish life science and med tech sectors.
This project was nominated for Innovator of the Year at the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards and won a Wild Card at the Scottish EDGE.
A unique opportunity to showcase your social enterprise/social business initiative.
On May 18th-19th Glasgow Caledonian University will be hosting a Social Innovation Fair as part of its annual Research Celebration. At the Fair Changemakers and Pioneers will be brought together from across Scotland and beyond to help strengthen ties between organisations and to encourage lively interaction and knowledge exchange. There will also be related talks and workshops highlighting especially how universities and social innovators can work together.
This opportunity is absolutely free!
The Fair will take place at Glasgow Caledonian’s Alex Ferguson Library between 9.30 and 5.30 on Thursday 18th May and 9.30-12.30 on Friday 19th May.
Interface will be exhibiting at this event so come along to our stand and meet Lorraine Thomson and Mari Findlay.
In order to book a place at the event, register at the link below:
The Crover – the world’s first robotic device that ‘swims’ through grains to monitor their condition.
Crover Ltd https://www.crover.tech has developed the world’s first small robotic device, known as a ‘CROVER’, that monitors cereal grains stored in bulk inside grain bins or storage sheds. The CROVER device can “swim” within the grains and uses on-board sensors to measure local parameters, such as temperature and moisture, to build a full map of the conditions within the grains. Unlike current grain monitoring solutions that measure only one variable and have limited reach, the CROVER’s remote monitoring capabilities provide real-time data across a range of measurements allowing grain storekeepers to identify critical conditions, like hotspots early and maintain quality of the grains through proactive management.
Crover Ltd were a start-up when they initially approached Interface in 2019, they have since grown from two co-founders to 20 employees.
Since 2019 they have secured significant investment, raising over £600k in innovation prizes and grants (including Scottish Enterprise and Innovate UK). They then opened a seed funding round for investors and hit their £150k target.
The Challenges / Solutions
“When we initially met Interface, we didn’t have a specific R&D challenge as we were focused on developing our product inhouse. An obvious area for support would have been in the areas of design and engineering, however, through discussions with Louise, she assessed how our business worked and proposed that we undertake a project with the Scottish Financial Risk Academy (SFRA). The project with the SFRA helped us determine precise financial estimates of the value of Crover data to grain storekeepers and its impact on the grain storage economics. Understanding the financial impacts of Crover’s monitoring capabilities, had wider implications such as being able to quantify monetary value to grain insurers, and the potential to reduce insurance premiums for farmers and grain merchants.” Lorenzo Conti, Co-founder Crover Ltd
Following on from this initial project, one of the main technical challenges Crover Ltd faced related to the precise location tracking of the device within the grain bulk. Conventional signals, such as GPS and WiFi, did not work due to their inability to penetrate the solid grain bulk so a novel approach was required. Crover Ltd had undertaken some initial testing of different solutions, however they needed to tap into academic expertise in ultrasonic waves, positioning systems, electromagnetic signals, wireless sensor network (WSN) and Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM), to help improve the accuracy of the device location. Interface connected them to the University of Glasgow who undertook an initial feasibility into a means of measuring and identifying the location of the robotic device in bulk grain storage. This was initially funded by an Impact Accelerator Account fund of £10k, which then led onto a further project where University of Glasgow and Crover Ltd secured a further £27K to continue the project to a successful conclusion.
Since the initial collaboration Interface has assisted Crover Ltd embark on several other successful collaborations focusing more on the future enhancement and performance improvement of the robotic device, by tapping into design and engineering expertise from several Scottish Academic Institutions. These involved:
- Heriot-Watt University (HWU) design engineering students looking at designs for a remote charging station for the Crover to allow re-charging when out on location.
- HWU design engineering students helping to develop an easily deployable, suspended cable system that provides cable above the Crover to facilitate its movement within grain sheds.
- University of Strathclyde’s design engineering students designing a water-tight sealing system for the Crover.
- University of Strathclyde’s Department of Design, Manufacturing and Engineering Management (DMEM), investigating suitability of design for manufacture.
The benefits resulting from the numerous collaborations which Interface have helped broker have undoubtedly helped Crover Ltd in both product development and business growth terms. Interface has helped open doors for Crover Ltd and helped Lorenzo and his team to establish strong links with academia resulting in some innovative and exciting developments.
Since its inception in 2019 Crover Ltd has grown from 2 employees to over 20 employees, has raised significant investment and secured over £600K in innovation prizes and funding.
The Gorbals Community Group (Old Gorbals Pictures & Heritage Group) had approached Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) in 2015 seeking technical assistance with their project. They are currently working with many organisations and political bodies exploring the possibility of recreating an old lost Gorbals landmark monument, the Gorbals Cross clock tower and drinking fountain. This landmark was removed in 1932/3 for the expansion and upgrade to the tram system.
Unfortunately, the original drawings and measurements that would normally be used to help recreate the monument were lost, and there are no other existing records or documents of the structure.
The group discovered, however, that there is an exact copy of the monument on the island of St Kitts, in the Caribbean, the only surviving piece of four originally cast.
Stevie Anderson and Eddie Horn, from GCU’s School of Engineering and Built Environment, visited the replica through funding from Historic Scotland, to draw up measurements of the original tower, using state-of-the-art, innovative 3D laser scanning techniques. They were then able to combine the laser scans with photogrammetry data to obtain higher resolution than is currently available from commercial sources. This visualisation process, partly funded by pooled Scottish Funding Council Innovation Vouchers* awarded to George Taylor & Co, a foundry in Hamilton, and Wireframe Immersive, a 3D visualisation company, will pave the way for a new and innovative interpretation of the previous landmark.
The two businesses that were awarded these Innovation Vouchers are quite different in terms of adoption of digital media and new technology. George Taylor & Co. (Hamilton) Ltd rely on traditional foundry manufacturing processes which have remained relatively unchanged. Wireframe Immersive is a digital media company whose products are almost exclusively created using cutting-edge digital media tools and techniques. This project enabled cross fertilisation of ideas and innovation between two very different companies and the use of the same 3D scanning and photogrammetry data to develop products for new and unique market sectors.
George Taylor & Co
For George Taylor & Co, this higher resolution dataset of the existing monument will help produce accurate, detailed 2D technical production drawings and 3D printed models, allowing for an accurate costing and bid for future stages of the manufacture of the monument.
The company recognises the potential for new technologies investigated through the partnership could lead to new market strategies and improved business opportunities gained from the collaboration on this project, and, in the short term, are investigating the potential to manufacture scaled replicas of the Gorbals Cross monument to market and sell.
“Thanks to the funding from the Scottish Funding Council Innovation Vouchers, we at George Taylor & Co. (Hamilton) Ltd and Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) have produced an accurate costing for the replacement of the monument in the Gorbals. At the same time, we have gained a lot of knowledge about 3D scanning and printing which is an exciting and innovative technology. We worked well with GCU and would trust that at some point in the future, we will team up again”, said Douglas Kerr, Commercial Director, George Taylor & Co.
“George Taylor and Sons recognise the benefits of keeping in touch with the latest technologies. This project certainly gave the company an interesting opportunity to engage with university expertise and allowed us to investigate the opportunities for these technologies that we would not otherwise have engaged with”, noted Stevie Anderson, GCU.
Wireframe Immersive can engage with the 3D scanned data to create Virtual Reality (VR) simulations of both the past installation and potential future in-situ reconstruction of the lost monument. The use of VR simulations and real-time simulations from the 3D Laser scanned Heritage monument will raise community awareness and help fundraise for the future manufacture of the monument.
As a result of this project, Wireframe Immersive have employed a graduate student to look at the Heritage market as a new market, with longer-term full employment a strong possibility.
Glasgow Caledonian University
From the University’s perspective, the development of a project with two businesses made it extremely beneficial in terms of developing industrial links and maintaining insight into current industry practice.
Applying technologies in which GCU have developed knowledge and expertise to the benefit of the businesses also proved favourable in terms of staff development and creating teaching material (case studies) for students.
Giving real world examples of industrial applications of modern technologies has proven to be valuable for students learning the latest technologies being taught at university level.
The project partners are now investigating additional mutually beneficial projects, based on joint expertise and a new understanding of skills and technologies which were gained from working together on the Gorbals Cross project.
“Applying for the pooled funding allowed all partners to work together on a project that probably would not have gone ahead if single funding was the only option”, said Stevie.
The Community Group
The Community Group has benefited from the project by engaging with the University partner to realise the project aims and objectives at this stage. The ability to obtain the more accurate quotation from the Foundry partner, George Taylor and Co, has allowed a more realistic appraisal of the intent to reinstate the lost Historic monument within the local area.
They are now seeking to engage with educational institutions on this and other projects currently in the pipeline for the benefit of communities across Scotland.
* Up to four businesses can apply together to pool their Innovation Vouchers to solve a common issue.
Scotmas is a leading manufacturer of water treatment, hygiene and environmental care products. Best known for its extensive range of chlorine dioxide systems, developed with over 25 years experience in the market, it is now actively involved in developing microbial biotechnology, insect repellents, insecticidal textiles and consumer product ingredients.
With a strong and continued commitment to R&D, Scotmas is always on the look-out for strategic investment opportunities with other companies and projects which can provide experience and capabilities that will add value to its offering.
The Business Challenge
An introduction to Interface – The knowledge connection for business, presented an opportunity to advance two research projects, one looking at bacteria identification and another on bacteria and virus tests. Following an extensive search of expertise in the field, Interface helped the company to develop active partnerships with several academic institutions.
The company produces microbe-based products used for a variety of applications in waste water treatment and land remediation, but wanted to expand this into a range of domestic cleaners and products for specific industrial contamination.
Following discussions with the University of Aberdeen, it was learnt that spin out company NCIMB was undertaking the characterisation of the bacteria strains on a routine basis.
Scotmas was looking for help to investigate the effectiveness of one of its products for a client. Interface facilitated a project with Glasgow Caledonian University’s Dr Chris Woodall, from the School of Life Sciences, offering specialist testing services for bacteriological and viral testing. The project resulted in a continued relationship and subsequent testing work.
Following the success of the initial project, Scotmas embarked on a number of new collaborative projects, including corrosion studies and a project on microencapsulation and was in active discussions with other academic groups including Scottish Crop Research Institute and the University of Glasgow.
- The company advanced two research projects with the help of university expertise
- The company accessed specialist testing facilities to validate the effectiveness of one of its products.
- The collaboration has resulted in a continued and sustained partnership between the company and Glasgow Caledonian University.
- The success of the project initiated new collaborative projects with other academic groups
Alistair Cameron, Technical Director at Scotmas commented:
“We were looking to strengthen our range of microbe-based products in a variety of domestic cleaners and products for tackling specific industrial contamination. Interface linked us to academic partners who helped in the commercial culturing of these microbes, in order to supply a powdered product to Scotmas’s commercial operations.”
Scotmas went on to collaborate with the engineering department at Heriot Watt University, an academic team that were included in the University’s research submission to REF 2014* (Research Excellence Framework), 94% of which was judged as “world-leading” or internationally excellent.
In November 2016 Scotmas announced that they are sending new self-sustaining technology to Botswana to bring properly treated water supplies to some of its most remote areas.The Bravo Hydro system runs without grid electricity or solar power, using a tiny generator in the water pipe. Scotmas said the technology could bring reliably disinfected water to areas where it had not been possible before.It is being sent to 40 villages in Botswana thanks to a major investment by the country’s government.
Scotmas undertook around ten collaborative projects with academia since the original project facilitated by Interface including two Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) with Heriot-Watt University. The family business employs 42 people and provides chlorine dioxide water solutions around the world – including in Doha for the Qatar World Cup 2022 and in villages in southern India.
In 2020 Interface linked Scotmas to Robert Gordon University to support the development of a new and innovative method of producing disinfectants without harmful by-products for use in hospitals, water supplies and food production applications. The project was funded through an Advanced Innovation Voucher and won Innovation of the Year at The Scottsh Knowledge Exchange Awards 2021.
*The REF is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.
Perthshire-based LoadFast Systems is a global Engineering and Manufacturing company that develops bespoke solutions to businesses in the construction and processing industries for the efficient handling of materials.
The Business Challenge
LoadFast Systems wanted to develop a technology for the vertical transportation of materials. Existing technologies in the field don’t sufficiently protect the materials being transported, creating significant amounts of dust and damage which can be highly problematic and lead to increased costs. Armed with strong and credible ideas, the team required support to see their initial designs refined into a superior market offering.
John Fuller, President and CEO at LoadFast Systems, met Lorna Watson, Business Engagement Executive for Interface – the knowledge connection for business, at a networking event hosted by Perth and Kinross’ Chamber of Commerce. Interface facilitates collaboration between businesses and academia for the development of business ideas and support of business growth.
Following detailed analysis of LoadFast’s requirements, Interface facilitated a partnership between LoadFast Systems and Glasgow Caledonian. Glasgow Caledonian’s academics have already provided a degree of validation to LoadFast’s pursuits, and together, academics and the team at LoadFast will work to optimise LoadFast’s transportation device.
Interface has also supported LoadFast’s successful application for Innovation Voucher funding from the Scottish Funding Council.
The benefits of Interface facilitated partnerships with Scotland’s academic expertise are clear. As a result of the collaboration, the company has projected £1M additional sales, 2 – 3 additional jobs, and 5 – 10 jobs safeguarded.
In March 2017 Loadfast employed two new members of staff: Loadfast expands the team.
John said: “There are many ways that SME’s can get help with their projects but the biggest issue is the time taken to do this when you only have a small team. Having a local, proactive source like Lorna has made the process easy and quick, with a high quality outcome.”
Please note that Interface administers the Innovation Voucher Scheme on behalf of the Scottish Funding Council. All funding applications are reviewed on a case by case basis by the Scottish Funding Council, guidelines can be found here.
As the internationally recognised governing body for cycle sport in Scotland, Scottish Cycling is the gateway to cycle sport for people in Scotland, with the aim of developing the sport at every level.
Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland (DMBinS) is a project based within Scottish Cycling which is delivering the world’s first national strategy for mountain biking. The project has an overarching strategic remit to increase participation, grow tourism and develop the sport of mountain biking.
DMBinS wanted to develop a new and innovative interactive DVD of Scottish mountain biking trails to use as a prototype product to both attract external sponsorship, and develop a full-length consumer DVD.
Sporting Chance Initiative referred DMBinS to Interface – the knowledge connection for business – to find out what external support was available to help develop the idea.
Interface facilitated a partnership with Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) which led to DMBinS working with a team of academics and graduates to develop a business plan and prototype DVD to engage current and aspirational mountain bikers. The project was awarded a £5,000 Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher.
By working with the eMotionLab at GCU – a world leader in the development and evaluation of emotionally engaging technology – DMBinS was able to utilise the lab‘s processes to ensure user engagement, and develop user-evaluation facilities which would explore the emotional engagement of products.
The idea of the interactive DVD was developed with the output being made into an App so that it could be distributed digitally.
DMBinS is working with partners in both the public and private sector to to complete the development of the App. The App, based on the original project, features trails across Scotland and was available in the App Store in time for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, which mountain biking is a key event.
“We are grateful to Interface for connecting us with Glasgow Caledonian University. It resulted in an excellent collaboration, and we now have a prototype which we can use to help attract further investment and ultimately add value to the Scottish economy by increasing the number of visitors to Scotland to enjoy our fantastic mountain biking,” said Graeme McLean, Project Manager of DMBinS.
Please note that Interface administers the Innovation Voucher Scheme on behalf of the Scottish Funding Council. All funding applications are reviewed on a case by case basis by the Scottish Funding Council, guidelines can be found here.
Headquartered in Glenbervie near Stonehaven, Scotland, Macphie is the UK’s leading, independent, added-value food ingredients manufacturer, and has been producing premium quality food ingredients and solutions for customers across 40 countries for over 85 years.
The company approached Interface to seek help in finding relevant academic collaborators to provide solutions to a range of challenges facing their business. These ranged from reducing saturated fat content and creating “cleaner label” products to rethinking their packaging and storage.
Interface has facilitated a series of collaborative projects with numerous Scottish Universities to support the business challenges.
Project areas have included:
- Use of Ultrasound in thermal processing to control food structure
- Mechanical Engineering projects on packaging and energy efficiency
- Starch/ protein chemistry for surface modification
- Stabilisation of food emulsions
- Packaging and Manufacturing Process Optimisation
- Chemical Engineering – UHT process flow characterisation and improvement
- New packaging designs for sustainability and manufacturing efficiency improvement
- Sugar reduction in key products
To date, Macphie has been involved in more than 15 individual collaborative research projects with multiple universities which have yielded cost savings to the business of many hundreds of thousands of pounds.
“Innovation is a cornerstone for Macphie, developing new technologies, products, processes and packaging to add value to our business and better meet our customer needs.
Macphie utilises Interface as a Scottish brokering service that brings businesses and universities together. Interface has facilitated a series of collaborative projects across a range of business requirements with Scottish universities. Using the Interface network, we have managed to completely accelerate our innovation agenda.
At Macphie we now have a rich heritage of academic projects across many aspects of our business. These translate into shaping and driving our innovation agenda. Interface is a crucial partner in enabling us to pair up with the very best academic organisations to achieve success. Our ongoing outlook is to continue to invest resources in long-term, transformational projects to ultimately add even greater value to our customer offering.” Martin Ruck, Macphie’s Head of Research and Development.
Following a successful masters project with Abertay University on computer and web Enabled Food Product Evaluation System:
“Abertay has a specific interest in pursuing links with industry as part of the University’s Strategic Plan. The work with Macphie is an excellent example of how Abertay can be recognised for developing graduates equipped with the attributes and attitudes to contribute significantly to future economies.
The work has also been conducive for developing pathways to impact, allowing Abertay to generate an excellent track record with respect to KE activities that generate further income and reputation for the University.” Dr Nia White, Head of the Graduate School, Abertay University.
Interface also supported Macphie and the University of Edinburgh to develop and test a series of emulsions to use in a commercial setting. This led on to further studies on the role of fat crystallisation in the process of stabilizing emulsions and foams which enabled the company to increase the unsaturated fats in their products.
“It was very interesting for us to apply our expertise in the physics of emulsion technology to support a company developing healthier products.”
Dr Tiffany Wood, Director of the Edinburgh Complex Fluids Partnership, The University of Edinburgh.
Macphie have worked with the following Universities and Research Institutes: University of Edinburgh, Glasgow Caledonian University, University of Strathclyde, Heriot-Watt University, Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health at the University of Aberdeen, Robert Gordon University, Abertay University, Queen Margaret University.
Highland Galvanizers was formed in 1978 to provide a galvanizing service across Scotland and has developed a reputation for quality and reliability of service.
In order to provide a better service, in 2002 a second plant was opened in Cumbernauld operating under the name of Highland Colour Coaters, thus introducing a quality means of having colour on galvanized steel. Developing this process extensively, the Company now offers its unique Colourgalv process to those who want both decorative and corrosion protective coatings on all manner of metalworks.
This Colourgalv process runs into an occasional problem called pinholing where the galvanized steel appears to evolve some gas during the curing of the powder through the hardening powder-coating causing small craters or pinholes.
Interface identified expertise within six universities across Scotland and the company opted to work with Glasgow Caledonian University.
“We were delighted with the responses we received from the universities. Glasgow Caledonian was clearly able to demonstrate expertise in this area,” commented Geoff Crowley, Managing Director, Highland Colour Coaters
“We have reduced the rate of re-works from 4% to less than 1%, saving between £70,000 and £100,000 per annum to our business…For researching a problem that we don’t have the people, time or resources to do ourselves, this KTP was great for us”
Following discussions between the partners, a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) was identified as the most beneficial mechanism for managing the research for the company.
- Access to world leading research and facilities to address industry-wide challenge
- KTP Associate working within company focused on research
- The project led to further collaborations with the University of Abertay and the University of Strathclyde