OT(S)EIS - The Start-Up Fund
"I have been thoroughly impressed with the portfolio of investments you have created for me. As well as showing some extremely positive early successes, these investments are also well distributed and in technologies that I would not normally be able to access." - Current Investor in OT(S)EIS
OT(S)EIS is a technology fund that seeks to make full use of the tax advantages offered by the SEIS and EIS investment schemes. The Start-up Fund makes SEIS investments in high risk, high reward science start-ups, in general within an hour’s drive of Oxford.
It remains open for investment. You can invest at any point during the tax year.
The Information Memorandum and Application Pack can be downloaded here:
N.B. - since the creation of the fund, the custodian's bank account has changed. Please consult the application pack for their up to date details. Earlier versions of these files may list their previous bank details.
For information on the fund's most recent activities, please read our latest Quarterly Report:
We have been investing in science start-ups for more than 30 years. We have learned from experience and believe that we are now quite good at this specialist activity. The Start-up Fund is fund number 12 and made its first investment in 2012. The fund is open for investment at any time, with a minimum investment of £15,000.
The Start-up Fund invests the capital provided by any investor over three years as follows:
- In year 1, a third of the funds (less fees) is invested in 5-10 SEIS investments in science start-ups.
- In year 2, a third of the funds (less fees) is invested in EIS investments in those of the earlier SEIS investments which are showing promise. Year 3 is the same as year 2.
This is likely to result in a good return in the end. Having the ability to make a follow-on investment in a start-up as it develops is very important. Experience shows that investors who are not able to do this often fare badly.
The SEIS scheme has transformed the economics of this business. The tax relief at the start is 50%, and there are further tax reliefs should the business fail, which, depending on the tax circumstances of the investor can reduce the losses on a failure to as little as 12.5% of the original investment. Any gains on the winners are tax free.
All the investments are outside Inheritance Tax after 3 years. Investment in The Start-up Fund provides a good means of passing wealth on to your heirs in the form of long-term assets which cannot be sold immediately, which might be attractive in some circumstances.
The disadvantage of The Start-up Fund is that it takes up to four years for investors to receive all their tax relief. This is because the investee company has to meet certain criteria before it can apply to HMRC for the necessary forms, so tax reliefs typically arrive 6-9 months after an investment. For investors who need all their investments made within this tax year we recommend OTEIS - The Development Fund
If you have any further questions about OT(S)EIS - The Start-Up Fund, please contact us
The investments are all local to Oxford so that we can have frequent informal meetings with the management, who may be Nobel Laureates, but who may not have negotiated an exclusivity agreement with a Chinese distributor. We attend key meetings and help solve problems. Because of this, we get to know the businesses very well, warts and all. This in turn puts us in a good position to be able to decide whether to offer follow-on investment as the business develops, and at what share price.
As of July 2018, OT(S)EIS has invested in 32 companies and 30 are still active and growing. Some information about each of our investee companies is shown below:
Run3D is the brainchild of Dr Jessica Leitch, 30, who is an International runner herself (representing Wales) and who has a D.Phil from Oxford in the biomechanics of running. Runners have reflective balls attached to their various joints (hips, knees, ankles) and also at various other points on their legs and then run on a treadmill. Special cameras capture the image of the balls at 200 frames/sec. This data is then fed into a computer programme. The computer then outputs a complete gait analysis, giving every detail of the gait, the angle of heel-strike, the rotation and rate of rotation of each joint etc. The analysis can be used to modify the gait for two purposes, to reduce the likelihood of injury and to increase speed.
BioMoti is based on technology from Queen Mary University of London. Its founders are Dr. Davidson Ateh and Prof. Jo Martin who was appointed as Head of Pathology for the NHS in early 2013.The chairman is Keith Powell who has long experience in early stage biotechnology companies.
Tumour cells including those from ovarian, breast, pancreatic colon, prostate and bladder cancer overexpress a particular ligand, CD95L on their surfaces. CD95L helps tumours to avoid the immune system by killing off certain classes of immune cells and is also associated with triggering cancer metastasis. The scientists have discovered that if a small particle is coated with CD95R (which binds to CD95L), the cancer cell will engulf the particle and draw it inside. By loading a chemotherapeutic drug into a biodegradable particle coated with the receptor molecule, it is possible to deliver high concentrations of chemotherapy drug into the cancer cells. The first product targets ovarian cancer in a much more efficacious and less toxic manner, with the potential to extend use to further cancers such as hard to treat breast cancers. BioMoti’s technology, called Oncojan™, can dramatically increase the efficacy of standard clinical treatments whilst reducing side-effects in healthy tissues. This is no longer an idea. Preclinical tests have shown remarkably good results, with 65-fold reductions in tumour burden, doubling of median survival and significant decreases in toxicity seen in an ovarian cancer model when the technology is applied and compared with the current clinical standard-of-care.
Biomoti also discovered that CD95L is overexpressed in tumor vasculature and it is therefore possible to accurately target tumors systemically.
Combat Medical develops and manufactures devices for the treatment of bladder cancers. Its device consists of a control unit and a disposable heat exchanger and catheter. These are used to deliver a treatment consisting of heating a chemotherapy liquid and circulating this through the bladder, rather than cutting out tumours in the bladder which is the current treatment. The standard treatment for bladder cancer results in up to 78% recurrence of tumours which then require increasingly drastic surgery. Combat’s treatment, called HIVEC (hyperthermic intra-vesical chemotherapy), reduces recurrence rates by up to 4 times. Thus far it has been used in combination with surgery, but it is also being investigated as a standalone treatment. It is also much less expensive, since the repeated surgery required to treat bladder cancer is extremely costly. Combat's devices are already CE marked and may therefore be used by doctors; the company is undertaking additional clinical trials to make it a standard of care. The hope is that the new treatment will in time become the most common treatment both in the UK and globally. If so, then the company will become very profitable and valuable.
A video describing the system can be seen here
Message Missile was a software company founded by Thomas Young, who was 18 at the time of the first investment, and who then went to Lancaster University.
There are two elements to the software. Message Missile is used by businesses and enables them to send messages to the mobile phones of their customers based on their location. So a grocery store could send a message to any of its customers who are within 500 yards of the store, saying that they have a special offer on corn on the cob, for the next 60 minutes. NotifU is a free app for use by the public. It opens with a map centered on the user's location and shows offers, which may be listed by type and proximity.
The business has now been closed and the company has been struck off the register at Companies House. Investors in the business have been sent a letter which will enable them to obtain loss relief on their investment.
The gross amount invested in this company was £41,000 and 40% taxpayers (assuming no capital gains tax savings) received total tax refunds of £28,700 so the cash loss on the investment was only £12,300.
Ibexis Technologies designs and manufactures self-contained dataloggers which will operate in remote places and record and transmit data back to base either using the local mobile phone network or via a satellite.
Ibexis dataloggers are small fully-integrated boxes designed to be very power efficient so that they may be powered by a battery or by a small solar panel or windmill in remote locations and may be programmed to send back data from up to 75 different sensors both digital and analogue at whatever interval is required, maybe every few seconds or maybe once per day. As can be seen, the Ibexis dataloggers can be used anywhere in the world in a wide variety of applications. The hope is that the volume and variety of the applications will grow and that Ibexis will become financially successful as this happens.
Progress has continued to be very slow and following major disagreements between the founders, it has been decided to close the company down. In Dec 2017, the company survives but is likely to close and we have written the value of the investment down to £0.
In breast cancer surgery a surgeon cannot see whether the entirety of a tumour has been removed. Roughly one quarter of surgeries for early-stage breast cancer need to be repeated to remove small residues which were missed in the first operation.
Lightpoint has developed an imaging technology based on detecting Cerenkov luminescence emitted by PET radiopharmaceuticals, to provide surgeons with a real time image of the cancer. The patient is given 18F-FDG, a radioactive tracer commonly used in medical imaging, which is taken up by tumours as they metabolise, so the surgeon is able to see the tiny amounts of light emitted from the radioactive tissue. Lightpoint’s first product, the LightPath Imaging System, for intra-operative surgical margin assessment, has already received marketing authorisation (CE Mark). It enables surgeons to determine whether the tissue they have removed during surgery is surrounded by a clear margin of healthy tissue. A second product, a laparoscopic device for prostate cancer is currently in development. Lightpoint is very actively engaged with surgeons to ensure that the products are best suited to their needs.
Metal Powder & Process (MPP) was established to produce high quality metal powders by gas atomisation for the aerospace, medical, and other industries. Metal is melted at the top of the atomiser, a machine the size of a small house, poured through a nozzle and blasted by jets of supersonic argon gas, and so turned into dust.
The use of powdered metals has been growing steadily over the last 50 years. It is less expensive to produce certain components, e.g. gearwheels used in cars, by metal injection moulding powdered steel, than it is to start with solid steel and then cut each tooth on a machine. Metal injection moulding also produces parts which can be stronger and more accurate. Now demand is increasing even more quickly due to the rapid growth of 3D printing of metal parts.
Due to the incorporation of some novel technology, it is hoped that the atomiser (known as Bertha) operated by MPP will produce powder of higher purity than the powders produced by existing atomisers. This, in turn, should make the powder suitable for use in the aerospace industry. In the past, the aerospace industry has been reluctant to use powdered metal since the impurities which are present in powders produced by existing designs of atomisers are potential crack-initiation sites.
Professor Kathirgamanathan, based at Brunel University, and known as PK, is one of the world's leading experts on OLEDs (Organic Light Emitting Diodes). The specialist materials that he has developed are already used in a large number of commercial OLED applications, most commonly in the screens of mobile phones. He has now established a new company, Power OLED Ltd, the purpose of which is to develop and market new materials which will be used in the next generation of OLEDs.
The latest set of materials combines the following beneficial traits:
- Higher efficiency - 60% improvement
- Greater stability at higher temperatures
- Better matched electronic levels
For the end user, this will result in brighter, more efficient, longer lasting screens on laptops, tablets and mobile phones. The manufacturer benefits from a reduction in the number of manufacturing steps, an increase in yield, and a consequent reduction in costs. Power OLEDs has achieved comparable efficiency to the current standard using a material that is spin-coated as opposed to deposited by vacuum processing. This would reduce processing cost significantly in the long term. It is possible that these improved OLEDs will in future be used as lighting. Such lights could be in the form of flat panels, rather than today's tubes and point source LEDs.
The business model will be to license the technology to chemical manufacturers in some markets and develop a manufacturing capability for other markets.
Dr Lloyd Czaplewski FRSC is the founder of Abgentis and an experienced entrepreneur and an expert in the structure of antibiotics. The rise of antibiotic resistance has put pressure on pharmaceutical companies to acquire new products. Abgentis will deploy Lloyd's unique insight into the structure-activity relationships, microbiology, pharmacology and efficacy of antibacterial DNA supercoiling inhibitors to re-engineer and optimise a compound that was effective in the market but was not competitive due to resistance and side-effects. The programme of work is designed to improve the potency and resistance frequency and to minimise the side effects in order to create an internationally competitive product. The aim is to develop the new product to the point where it can be acquired. This will require testing microbiology and pharmacokinetics as well as toxicology of a number of variants.
Professor Kyriakos Porfyrakis works in the Materials Department of Oxford University. During the 2000s, he developed a method of producing small quantities of endohedral fullerenes. Carbon exists in many forms, including graphite and diamond. But carbon can also exist as fullerenes, hollow spheres of carbon atoms, the simplest of which is made up of 60 carbon atoms. Kyriakos has developed a method of making fullerenes which contain an atom of another element inside. At the time of the investment, the elements chosen were Gadolinium, Yttrium and Nitrogen. It was believed that these novel materials will have potential uses as a better contrast agent for MRI scans, for improving the efficiency of photovoltaics, and for use in certain quantum computing applications. There had been considerable interest from researchers around the world. Production capacity at the time of investment was about 1 gram per month. The purpose of the investment was to move the business into commercial premises on one of the Oxford Science Parks, to build an improved production machine, and to employ someone to concentrate on sales. This is a classic high risk, high potential reward investment.
Sasets provides software for construction companies which enables them to replace paper forms with forms on mobile devices. The forms may have information such as the weather entered automatically. The net result is a jump in efficiency and a big time saving. The forms are transmitted instantly to the department where they are needed, a huge improvement on the old methods of sending forms in triplicate by post to departments which then had to re-enter the data. Time stamped, geotaggged photographs may be added to the forms, a great advantage in many situations.
Sime Diagnostics makes use of mathematical techniques to extract the greatest possible information from spectrometric readings of medical samples. The first application is in determining whether pre-term babies (and possibly babies born by Caesarean) need an application of lung surfactant to protect their lungs.
15 million babies are born too soon each year and over 1 million die from premature birth complications. Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS), a breathing disorder caused by surfactant deficiency, affects 1 in 4 premature babies and is the most common single cause of late complications and death. Babies with RDS require mechanical ventilation, oxygen therapy and longer hospitalisation - all at significant cost. RDS can be prevented with surfactant treatment at birth. Prophylatic surfactant treatment harms healthy babies so neonatologists have to wait for RDS symptoms to develop before starting treatment. There is no quick and safe test to identify at risk babies.
Unfortunately the current tests to determine whether a baby needs surfactant are too slow and complicated and the decision to give surfactant is currently driven by the deterioration of infant health. The new test should give results within 10 minutes of birth. Sime also owns IP for measurement of other biomarkers for diseases
Expend is developing a payment card and associated software to deal with the headache of expenses. The Expend debit card can be controlled tightly by the company with strict spending limits and controls and the associated app ensures that all the required information is collected at the time of purchase so that the expenses process can be automated from there on.
For example, when a user makes a purchase, the card will only allow a purchase to be made if it is within the limits set for it (value, geography, category of sales outlet). The user will be alerted that they have made a purchase and will be asked to take a picture of the receipt with the phone. If necessary the phone will ask additional questions so that all the required info is captured. The accounts are automatically updated and all the information is available for easy review.
The employee can now distribute his admin efficiently throughout the period, the life of the admin staff is simplified and their energies more usefully employed and the directors can know in real time what expenses they are incurring.
The Expend founders are two developers who have worked in the field of financial and payment systems for many years. They have assembled an expert team to cover all areas of product development.
Molecular Warehouse (MW) has technology to rapidly develop and test new proteins for diagnostic and therapeutic uses. MW has developed a new type of sensor for diagnostics which yields new quantitative devices that work much like a blood glucose sensor (i.e takes a small drop of fluid and gives an numeric readout in seconds without any additional operations), but for almost any physiological analyte.
There are several drugs where it is important that a patient has neither too little nor too much drug in their system. Patients need to be monitored over a period of time until the dosing is accurately determined. This can be very expensive as the patient has to either be kept in hospital or must return to the hospital daily or weekly until it is correctly dosed. Molecular Warehouse will allow patients to measure this themselves with high accuracy and communicate back to the doctors. Its first products are aimed at the transplant market and will allow accurate monitoring of drug levels outside a hospital environment (or in one but more effectively).
For the development of new sensors, Molecular Warehouse makes use of the services of the University of Queensland Brisbane where a large number of proprietary and commercial tools are brought together in one location allowing very rapid development of new products or leads.
The company is run by CEO Siro Perez who has significant pharmaceutical and VC experience.
Dr Adrian Thomas is Professor of Biomechanics at Oxford University where he founded the Animal Flight research group in Zoology. He is an expert on how animals and insects move through water and air and on land. Unsurprisingly, over millions of years, they have evolved very efficient means of doing this. So the purpose of the new company, Animal Dynamics, a spin-out from Oxford University is to adapt the techniques and structures used by animals and insects to create more efficient and effective means of flying and moving through water and over land. Alex Caccia, an entrepreneur with start-up experience in media, technology and manufacturing and a background in finance and investment banking, has been working with Adrian to develop the business opportunity, and is now the CEO.
CD200 is a protein that modulates the activity of mature immune cells. It protects certain tissues in the body such as muscles and nerve tissue from the immune cells. People who have low levels of the CD200 receptor on their immune cells are at higher risk of auto-immune diseases.
The herpes virus is able to survive in the human body by producing a protein very similar to CD200 – a viral homologue. The attractiveness of CD200 is that it acts on both the innate and adaptive arms of the immune system but does not impair the function of immature immune cells so response to infections is not affected.
Other groups have carried out research on naturally occurring CD200 and its homologues but although effective they are not practical and would require very frequent injections.
By modifying the protein, Ducentis is seeking to turn it into a practical treatment. There are many auto-immune diseases that might benefit from such a treatment, including arthritis.
During the last century, there have been sporadic reports of cancer remission following a virus infection. Bioarchitech plans to improve cancer treatment by manufacturing a new generation of chimeric viruses with improved therapeutic amplification at the tumour site, and the ability to survive in the body's circulation to target tumour metastases, which are the main cause of morbidity and mortality.
The CEO is Dr Geoff Hale who has an international reputation in therapeutic immunology. As a scientist, he has published over 300 articles on the mechanisms of action of antibodies. He was formerly head of the Therapeutic Antibody Centre at Oxford University, and was the founder and CEO of BioAnaLab Ltd, a successful spin-out from Oxford which grew from nothing to c 50 people.
Kevin Maskell is the principal researcher and developed the idea together with LiLi Wang and Hannah Chen. From 2002 -2009 Kevin was a research assistant in the department of clinical pharmacology at Oxford University. From 2009 - 2013 he worked for DDS, a subsidiary of Merck Millipore ending as principal scientific director. From 2013 until joining Bioarchitech in 2015, he was the senior scientist at Oxford Cancer Biomarkers.
Peptides are short chains of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins). They are an increasingly popular class of pharmaceuticals, sitting in between conventional small molecules and biologics such as antibodies and proteins. They can be made chemically like small molecules, but can be very specific like the biologics. The technology behind Orbit comes from Oxford University's Wetherall Institute of Molecular Medicine. It enables the rapid selection of peptides that bind onto potential drug targets and do not show unintended binding.
The approach consists of creating millions of micron sized beads each with a unique peptide and mixing them with the target molecule. The beads that bind can then be identified and larger quantities produced. If necessary new beads can be made which are similar to those that bind best - an evolutionary approach.
The company will partner with large pharmaceutical companies wishing to develop new peptide drugs but will also develop its own portfolio. It is hoped the technology works rapidly enough to enable tens of drug discovery programmes to be run each year.
The company is being run by Alex Batchelor who has a strong background in drug development with support from founders Prof Graham Ogg and Prof Terence Rabbitts FRS.
Organoids are microscopic three-dimensional cellular structures that mimic some of the structure and function of real organs. They have therefore become an increasingly popular tool for researchers who have previously been confined to working with single-layer cell cultures which offer a poor mimicry of normal human tissue.
Jeff Moore established Curileum Discovery to apply his extensive experience in organoid drug discovery and development to the field of gastrointestinal (GI) disease. Jeff has previously founded two drug development companies but most recently ran the Novel Therapies division of Epistem where his work entailed identifying and validating new intestinal stem cell targets. Curileum Discovery will use gastrointestinal organoids, effectively microscopic guts, to identify the underlying causes of GI disease and then find ways to repair or replace damaged cells.
A laboratory was established in March 2016 at the Northwick Park Institute for Medical Research in North London. The laboratory is adjacent to St. Marks Hospital, one of the few hospitals in the world to specialise entirely in intestinal and colorectal medicine.
Travel Money Club is the brainchild of Don Clark, a very successful financial products retailer, Derek Taylor, a financial markets and forex specialist, and Martin Taylor, a software solutions expert.
Knowing the foreign exchange market well, the founders realised that bureaux de change were making a lot of money from exchanging foreign currency, and wanted to find a fairer way to charge for the service. So they decided to launch TravelMoneyClub.co.uk – foreign currency exchange with a difference. TMC makes no profit from exchanging pounds for foreign currency, instead making its profit from an annual membership fee. The fee of £60pa or £5.99 monthly includes three free next business day deliveries, a guarantee to provide the best exchange rates in the UK, and a guarantee that if any member fails to save at least the whole membership fee they will refund the difference at the end of the year.
In the words of the blurb, "The service is available via a mobile app and makes organising travel money easier than ever. The currency delivery service handles over £0.5bn of foreign currency each year and is regulated by the FCA, and the highly secure, best-of-breed platform is built on products and services from some of the most trusted security names in the world including Experian, Worldpay, GoCardless and Amazon. The service is aimed at frequent travellers and those who travel in large groups, and membership fees can be saved by exchanging as little as £750 in some currencies."
When doctors make use of long needles for taking biopsies or making deep injections, they have two main problems:
(1) The needles are difficult to see on ultrasound.
(2) Long thin needles often deflect and do not end up exactly where intended.
ANT’s active needle technology provides minute longitudinal ultrasound movement to the needle, this results in the needle being very bright on the ultrasound (from all directions) and the needle deflects much less. The ultrasound drive also has an additional benefit in that the amount of force required to insert the needle is much reduced. This could result in less pain upon insertion and less risk of overshoot – which is where a needle has difficulty piercing a tough layer but then slides too far.
ANT has identified biopsy needles as a market where all the advantages of the Active Needle come to bear, while the extra cost of the ultrasound driver will only have a small impact on the gross margin. The alternative products (without ultrasounds advantages) cost ~$200.
The technology was invented and initially developed by Dr Muhammad Sadiq at Dundee University. The company is being headed up by Ian Quirk who has been a design, regulatory and clinical development specialist in medical devices for over 20 years, most recently at LightPoint Medical.
In the next period the device will be developed sufficiently to be used in trials leading to CE marking and clinical use
Oxford Nanoimaging is a spin out from the biological physics lab of Prof Achillefs Kapanidis at Oxford University. They specialise in super resolution microscopy, which refers to being able to resolve dimensions smaller than the wavelength of light. Prof Kapanidis, Robert Crawford and Bo Jing have invented an optical assembly which allows a microscope to be shrunk from the size of a small car to the footprint of a tablet (with a PC sized box under the bench). This not only gives a big advantage in crowded and expensive laboratories, it also does away with many of the adjustments and control requirements of other super resolution microscopes, making it suitable for beginners and experts. With the microscope it has been possible to image the processes of DNA repair in a cell.
The expertise in the company is not only in the device, but also in the molecular biology techniques and the image processing. A bit like a smart phone we expect there will be advances both in the hardware and in the applications that can run on it. The company is aiming for rapid expansion, with a distribution network being developed around the world. The company also has the backing of Oxford University Innovation and Oxford Science Innovation.
Entia (previously known as Eva Diagnostics) was set up by Toby Basey-Fisher and Millie Clive-Smith, who joined forces to use a technology platform developed at Imperial College and won the OneStart competition in 2014.
Anaemia is the most prevalent medical condition in the world. At the moment, the determination of the details of the condition in an individual (for example measuring the level of haemoglobin and haemocrit) require that individual to visit a hospital where a large volume of blood is taken, for subsequent analysis, with the results typically coming a few days later. It may then be that another hospital visit is required. Entia's device enables a patient to do the same analysis at home in under five minutes. A pinprick of blood is taken and placed on a strip which is then fed into the hand-held battery powered 'Aptus' device. Aptus is connected to the user's mobile phone by wi-fi and the results are communicated instantly both to the patient and to the doctors in the hospital.
It is not hard to see how this will transform the lives of millions of anaemia sufferers worldwide. It will also save huge amounts of time and cost for hospitals.
Increasingly people are receiving their news and other information through their mobile devices. Newspaper circulations are falling, especially among the young. This creates both a problem and an opportunity for news organisations, such as the BBC.
Using the semantic database developed by three Oxford academics, Professor Ian Horrocks, Boris Motik and Bernardo Cuenca Grau, Covatic will provide a product enabling broadcasters to deliver personalised news and information feeds to millions of customers. Users will be able to start by choosing likes and dislikes "Please send me news about the premiership football and especially about West Ham. I am also interested in butterflies. Don't send me news about Brexit." But the system will be agile and intelligent with the capability to send content based on information which it gathers about the user's lifestyle and location.
Covatic raised a total of £768,000 in January 2017, which included £100,000 from OT(S)EIS. The Covatic development team is now based next to the BBC Television Centre in White City.
Electrowinning Technologies has been formed to exploit the commercial potential of some IP which has the potential to be very valuable to mining companies. The founders are Duncan Grant and Michael Barker. Duncan, who spent many years as an academic in Bristol University, has filed patents for the company which relate to methods of controlling the very large currents which are used in metal winning operations. Michael Barker is a consulting engineer, based in Finland whose clients include many large mining companies.
The founders believe that by controlling these currents, electrowinning plants would improve both the quality and the quantity of the metals produced and would also reduce energy consumption. There are also applications in electrorefining, the main copper refining method used in Europe.
The plan is to persuade an electrorefining plant operator to install a test unit in one of their cells to demonstrate the improvements and cost-savings that could be obtained. This sounds simple, but mining companies and plant operators tend to be conservative and resistant to change. The £25,000 investment is intended to pay for the patent filings and to keep the company going for long enough to get interest from one of more electrorefining companies, and, ideally persuade them to pay for a pilot installation (cost c £15,000). It is believed that the technology installed plant wide (cost c$1.3m plus $500k/pa) could be worth $2.8m per year in a copper electrorefining plant. So this should be a good investment for an electrorefining plant.
Lupe has been formed to design and launch a better vacuum cleaner, based on a novel principle. The two founders were previously on the engineering design team at Dyson, where, among other things they were responsible for the design and development of the current Dyson flagship cyclone technology.
Their novel idea which is now going through the patenting process, is to use a significantly more aerodynamically efficient process to raise dust, especially dust in grooves on a hard floor. In a standard industry test, dust is placed in a groove of defined dimensions which runs at 45 degrees to the direction of travel. The Lupe prototype collects 100% of the dust. Conventional vacuum cleaners collect maybe 40% of the dust using an equivalent power.
The Lupe will be battery powered, and because of certain other novel features is expected to run at full power for 30 minutes. The brand leader, by contrast runs for only 8 minutes at full power before needing a 3 hour charge.
Process Vision Ltd is developing an inspection system for gas pipelines. Paul Stockwell, the founder has worked for many years in the field of sensors for the gas and oil industry and became acutely aware of the requirement for detecting and measuring liquids in gas pipelines. Gas pipelines should not have liquids in them but sometimes do. The liquids can be condensation from the gas or liquids carrying over from the treatment plants – which are put in place to remove water, carbon dioxide or hydrogen sulphide from the gas. If the liquids accumulate sufficiently, they can fill the whole pipe diameter and then be pushed along as a slug, reaching the next gas treatment plant or compression turbine and wreaking havoc. Less dramatically, but possibly worse financially, the presence of liquids in the tubes where gas meters are placed can affect the measurement and lead to over or undercharging.
Process Vision has found a way to safely install optical inspection and measurement cameras on the pipelines.
Dr Paul Rinne is a doctor, and for the last several years has been doing research at Imperial College on the rehabilitation of stroke patients. His co-founder, Mike Mace, also at Imperial is a robotics engineer.
Worldwide some 430m people suffer with hand and arm disabilities. The current treatment for people who have lost the use of a hand following a stroke is to squeeze a ball, repeatedly maybe for up to 8 hours. This is extremely boring.
Paul and Mike have developed an intelligent variable strength grip which incorporates accelerometers and wi-fi. This means that a patient is able to play computer games, which makes life much more interesting and which, in turn, means that patients recover the use of their hand much more quickly.
The founders have also developed a range of games whose difficulty can be increased to match the returning dexterity of the patient. The brain is extremely plastic, and although a stroke may have destroyed the areas previously responsible for hand operation, given the right feedback the brain is able to relearn how to control hands, using entirely new areas.
Whenever and wherever Paul has talked about Gripable and given demonstrations, the response from practitioners in the field has been to want to order the system for their own use. So the purpose of the new business, Gripable, is to produce and market this improved therapy.
The number of servers on the web has now passed the 1 bn figure. The founders of Dark Beam believe that only about 5% of the data held by these servers is indexed and searched by Google. At the bottom end, less than 1% is the so called dark web, encrypted and not accessible except to very few. And it is full of honey traps which is how many criminal gangs get caught. But in the middle is c. 90% plus which is not indexed - the 'deep web'. In most cases the sites on the deep web are intended not to be found so they have obscure web addresses and cannot easily be searched. It is on the deep web that many personal details surface, for example credit card numbers, bank details and passwords.
The Dark Beam founding team are experienced in the field with an average age in the 40’s. Steve Tyrens who worked for the UK security services for many years has an in depth understanding of how the deep web works. He has designed crawlers, believed to be the best available anywhere, which will scour the deep web searching for credit card numbers, passwords and other such data.
Dark Beam's, business model is to sell companies a contract for a monthly fee. Then if/when data belonging to this company is found, the company will be alerted and will be able to do something about it before too much damage is done. There have been many highly publicised instances of major companies losing millions of personal data records. On average it has been four months before the company concerned was even aware that their data has been hacked. Dark Beam hopes to be able to alert companies much more quickly than this.
In May 2018, the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force. After this, companies who lose personal data will be liable to fines of up to 4% of their global turnover. This is concentrating minds. Dark Beam hopes to enable companies to meet their GDPR obligations.
Whilst knee and hip replacements are quite common, elbow replacements are much less so. One of the reasons is that the elbow is more complicated than either of the other two joints and the only surgical solution on offer had been the total elbow replacement which left the patient unable to rotate the wrist and only able to lift very modest weights. The treatment was therefore only offered to retired people. The alternative treatments were drugs and removal of part of the elbow. Mr. Joe Pooley is a top orthopaedic surgeon and realised that almost all elbow problems start with the outer elbow joint and developed a replacement joint that only replaces the ends of the joints. The technology was developed in 2005 and licensed to a large medtech company and was used in approximately 1000 cases, but the company did not promote it and sales were moderate. The medtech underwent a merger and in the course of the merger returned the ownership of the IP to Joe Pooley, who with his brother David Laskow Pooley, decided to create a company to develop and commercialise the Lateral Resurfacing Elbow.
A review study of 100 LRE operations and patient recovery showed that no patients have needed re-operation. One of the patients even sent back pictures from his kite surfing holiday (Joe says this is not recommended!)
LRESystem is developing a kit so that everything the surgeon needs will be in one sterile pack and will make their life very straight-forward. With an improved surgical technique, it will be possible to carry out the surgery very quickly and we believe that as for the knee, the decision to have surgery rather than taking strong immuno-supressive drugs and pain killers will be quite easy. The market for replacement elbows may become much larger than it is currently.
Cell cultures are widely used in medicine. Whether it is to test and develop new drugs or stem cells for new procedures, the cells need to arrive at the place of use in the best possible condition. In most cases when cells (or assemblies of cells) need transporting, they are cryogenically frozen, shipped, then thawed and brought back to functioning status. The process has many steps, is expensive and time sensitive – you don’t want the cells to thaw in transit. Some cell types can withstand this treatment without problems, but many cell types struggle, with delayed cell death rendering experiments invalid or difficult to interpret. There are some cell assemblies that cannot withstand freezing at all and are therefore impossible to ship.
Prof. Che Connon’s group in Newcastle discovered that when their special gel was put on cells, nothing happened. While this may seem less than impressive, they realised that the cells were just suspending their function and when the gel was removed, they resumed as if nothing had happened. The gel also protects the cells during transportation.
CEO Mick Mclean has come in to run the company and the system has already been tested by a company that has a complex cell type they would like to ship to customers around the world, but currently can’t. With Atelerix, they were able to prepare the cells for test, then coat them, ship them, drive them back in the boot of a car – no cryogenics required - remove the gel and they performed just as well as those that did not travel.
Arago Biosciences is a spin-out from the University of Oxford – named after French Physicist and polymath François Arago - that has developed an optical technology able to determine the mass of individual molecules in the range from 40 kDa to >10 MDa (Daltons is another name for Atomic Mass Units). This range encompasses most proteins and assemblies of interest to medicine. The measurement can take place in solutions with a wide range of biologically relevant concentrations and is rapid, with only a few minutes being enough to collect high quality data.
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