Etcembly aims to build the immune pattern recognition framework, EMLy (Etcembly Machine Learning) to facilitate the design of a new generation of advanced biologics for the clinic. As part of this objective, Etcembly will consolidate disparate pieces of TCR data across all outputs into neural networks to train this algorithm- including clinical data from co-development partners. Etcembly will create a library of TCR sequences (in order of millions) and use machine learning to understand the rules of target engagement and specificity. This data will then help with the design of novel T cell receptor-based therapeutics for a wide array of diseases.
Nikalyte is developing a nanoparticle generator, which will enable researchers to produce nanoparticles of almost any metal or alloy on almost any substrate via a user-friendly interface. Metal nanoparticles are being ever more widely used, in a growing number of applications, including cancer therapies and diagnostics, catalysis, electrochemistry and batteries. Nanoparticles are of huge interest to the life science research community in areas such as cell binding and drug delivery. Presently there is no clean, non-chemical method of depositing pure, non-agglomerated nanoparticles onto a substrate such as an agar plate.
In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is a large and growing market for humans and for animals (especially lab mice, cattle and sheep). One of the key steps in IVF is the selection of healthy sperm cells. A healthy cell is characterised by swimming fast and straight. The current technique for separating healthy cells (centrifugation) takes up to an hour, requires expertise and causes damage to sperm DNA. Cytoswim has developed a new chip which separates the healthy cells from the unhealthy ones with almost 100% success in less than 20 minutes and is very easy to use.
In cancer surgery, a surgeon cannot see whether the entirety of a tumour has been removed. In prostate cancer surgery, roughly one quarter of surgeries will leave some cancerous tissue behind after surgery. Lightpoint has developed an imaging technology based on PET radiopharmaceuticals commonly used in medical imaging, to provide surgeons with a real time image of the cancer. Lightpoint’s first product has received marketing authorisation (CE Mark). It enables surgeons to determine whether the tissue they have removed is surrounded by a clear margin of healthy tissue. A second product, a laparoscopic device for prostate cancer is in development. A non-clinical device has also been released.
Expend has developed a payment card and associated software, so the expenses process is simplified and companies can know their expenditure in real time. The Expend debit card has strict but dynamic spending limits and controls, allowing a purchase to be made only within set values, geography, and category of sales outlet. The associated app (Android and Apple) ensures that all the required information is collected at the time of purchase, so that the expenses process can be automated from there on. The accounts are automatically updated (through Xero integration) and all the information is available for easy review.
Oxford Nanoimaging (ONI) is a spin out from the biological physics lab at Oxford University. ONI specialises in super resolution microscopy, resolving dimensions smaller than the wavelength of light. It doesn’t have all the adjustments and control requirements of other super resolution microscopes, making it easier to use, and allows the microscope to be shrunk to the footprint of a tablet. With the microscope, it has been possible to image the processes of DNA repair in a cell.
CD200 is a protein that protects tissues (including muscles and nerves) from the immune cells. People who have low levels of the CD200 receptor on their immune cells are at higher risk of autoimmune diseases. Naturally occurring CD200 and its homologues are effective as treatments for autoimmune diseases but not practical because they require very frequent injections. Ducentis has made a modified CD200 protein, which might be a practical treatment for many autoimmune diseases, including Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Curileum Discovery uses gastrointestinal organoids (microscopic three-dimensional cellular structures that mimic some of the structure and function of real organs) to identify the underlying causes of GI disease and then find ways to repair or replace damaged cells.
There have been sporadic reports of cancer remission following a virus infection. Bioarchitech plans to improve cancer treatment by manufacturing a new generation of oncolytic viruses with the ability to survive in the body's circulation to target tumour metastases, which are the main cause of morbidity and mortality. Bioarchitech was approached by a leading antibody company to engage in a new collaborative project that would provide a different and complementary approach for the effective delivery of cancer therapeutics. Immuno-oncology is a major interest of many pharmaceutical companies and oncolytic viruses are a sought after strategy.
Combat Medical develops and manufactures devices for the treatment of bladder cancers. The standard treatment for bladder cancer involves cutting out tumours in the bladder, and results in up to 78% recurrence of tumours which then require increasingly drastic surgery. Combat’s treatment heats a chemotherapy liquid and circulates this through the bladder, reducing 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. Combat's devices are already CE marked and the treatment has now been used more than 20,000 times. The company is undertaking additional clinical trials to make it a standard of care.
Lupe has been formed to design and launch a better vacuum cleaner. It uses a significantly more aerodynamically efficient process to raise dust, especially dust in grooves on a hard floor. In a standard industry test, conventional vacuum cleaners collect maybe 40% of the dust. The Lupe prototype collects 100% of the dust, using an equivalent power. The Lupe is expected to run on batteries at full power for 30 minutes. The brand leader runs for only 8 minutes before needing a 3 hour charge. Lupe is now gearing up to manufacturing and launching a Kickstarter campaign for pre-sales.
Sime Diagnostics’ first product determines whether pre-term babies need lung surfactant. Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS) is a breathing disorder caused by surfactant deficiency and affects 25% of the 15 million premature babies born each year. It is the most common single cause of late complications and death. RDS can be prevented with prophylactic surfactant treatment at birth, but the treatment harms healthy babies, so neonatologists had to wait for RDS symptoms to develop before starting treatment. Sime’s new test should give results within a few hours of birth.
Active Needle Technology provides minute longitudinal ultrasound movement to long needles used for taking biopsies or making deep injections, so the needle is very bright on the ultrasound (from all directions) and the needle deflects much less. The amount of force required to insert the needle is much reduced to result in less pain upon insertion and less risk of overshoot. The device is being developed for use in trials leading to CE marking and clinical use.
When cells need transporting, they are cryogenically frozen, shipped, then thawed and brought back to functioning status. Many cell types cannot withstand this process, with delayed cell death rendering experiments invalid or difficult to interpret. Atelerix has developed a gel, which causes cells to suspend their function. When the gel is dissolved the cells resume their function.
Run3D is a system for complete gait analysis. The analysis can be used to modify the gait to reduce the likelihood of injury and to increase speed. Runners have reflective balls attached to their legs and run on a treadmill. Special cameras capture the image of the balls at 200 frames/sec. Run3D is now available at clinics in the UK, Ireland, Holland and Slovakia, who pay a monthly fee to for the software.
Animal Dynamics is a spin-out from Oxford University Animal Flight group to adapt the techniques and structures used by animals and insects to create more efficient means of moving through air and water and over land. Malolo is a human powered watercraft, which will form the basis of improved propulsion systems for ships and improved tidal power generation systems. Skeeter is a dragon-fly drone whose development is being funded by a £1m phase 2 contract with Dstl. Stork is a system for delivering packages to front-line troops or to provide disaster relief.
Refeyn is a spin-out from the University of Oxford 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 = 1.6 x10-27 kg). This range encompasses most proteins and measurement takes place in solutions with a wide range of biologically relevant concentrations. A few minutes is enough to collect high quality data. Refeyn is developing and manufacturing a range of devices with different capabilities, from quality-control type instruments to full-blown research tools.
Anaemia is the most prevalent medical condition in the world. At the moment measuring the level of haemoglobin and haematocrit requires the patient to visit a hospital and results can take a few days. 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. Entia is establishing a network of distributors around the world. Entia is now developing a second product for the home monitoring of blood during systemic cancer therapy.
Oxwash has developed a commercial and hyper-sustainable laundry in a shipping container. Using special technology, washing will be at close to room temperature, water will be filtered and recirculated, and solar panels on the roof will collect energy. At the heart of the system are a series of electric three-wheeled bicycles which have a large box at the front to hold the laundry. An app enables customers to place orders and the bike routes are changed to create the most efficient collection and delivery routes.
Molecular Warehouse (MW) has developed a new type of sensor for quantitative diagnostics devices that work much like a blood glucose sensor but for almost any physiological analyte. There are several drugs where patients need to be monitored over a period of time until the dosing is accurately determined. The patient often has to be kept in hospital until it is correctly dosed. Molecular Warehouse will allow patients to measure this themselves with high accuracy and communicate back to the doctors. MW has developed a sensor for calcium which has applications in monitoring kidney disease and hyperparathyroidism.
Dark Beam 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. There have been highly publicised instances of companies losing millions of personal data records. On average, it has been four months before the company concerned was even aware that the data had been hacked. Dark Beam hopes to be able to alert companies much more quickly than this.
Using the semantic database developed by three Oxford academics, Covatic will enable media companies to deliver text, audio, or video content to millions of customers based on their preferences. Users will start by choosing likes and dislike, but the system is agile and intelligent so can select content based on the user's lifestyle, location and viewing habits. All the information will be downloaded automatically to the user's phone, so that they will be able to access the content without needing a connection or having to wait for a download.
The current treatment for people who have lost the use of a hand following a stroke is to squeeze a ball repeatedly for up to 8 hours a day. Gripable has developed an intelligent, variable-strength grip which incorporates accelerometers and wi-fi, so the patient is able to play computer games to recover the use of their hand. Gripable enables patient to play with others, locally and remotely. The difficulty of the games can be increased to match the returning dexterity of the patient. Gripable can distinguish if activities are limited by physical or mental capability, and offer appropriate training.
Elbow replacements are much less common than knee or hip replacements. The only surgical solution on offer was the total elbow replacement, which left the patient unable to rotate the wrist. LRESystem realised that almost all elbow problems start with the outer elbow joint. LRESystem is developing an Elbow-in-a-Box so that everything the surgeon needs will be in one sterile pack. The decision to have surgery rather than taking strong immunosuppressive drugs and painkillers will be quite easy.
Power OLEDs develops and markets new materials which will be used in the next generation of commercial OLED applications. This will result in brighter, more efficient, longer lasting screens on laptops, tablets and mobile phones. The manufacturer benefits from reduced number of manufacturing steps, increase in yield, and reduction in costs. The business model will be to license the technology to chemical manufacturers in some markets and develop a manufacturing capability for other markets.
Cytecom is developing a novel detection point system that can discern whether bacteria are present in a liquid solution and critically whether those bacteria are alive or dead, all within a matter of minutes. The technology can be used for research purposes and will improve the quality of drinking water through rapid monitoring by saving time, money and keeping the population safe.
PolyCat has developed an economic, scalable process to produce metal nanoparticle catalysts on a polymer substrates. These catalysts could be used to increase shelf-life of fruit and vegetables, to dispose of and protect against chemical weapons and pesticides, and to degrade Volatile Organic Compounds which cause ‘Sick Building Syndrome’.
Metal Powder & Process (MPP) produces high quality metal powders by gas atomisation for the aerospace, medical, and other industries. It is less expensive to produce certain components by metal injection moulding than to start with solid metal. Metal injection moulding can also produces parts which are stronger and more accurate. Demand for powdered metal has been increasing for 60 years and is now rising even more quickly due to the rapid growth of 3D printing of metal parts. The atomiser operated by MPP will hopefully produce powder of higher purity than powders produced by existing atomisers, which should make the powder suitable for use in the aerospace industry.
Peptides are are an increasingly popular class of pharmaceuticals. They can be made chemically like small molecules, but can be very specific like the biologics. Orbit’s technology enables the rapid selection of peptides that bind onto potential drug targets and do not show unintended binding. Orbit create millions of micron-sized beads each with a unique peptide, mixes them with the target molecule, and identifies which beads bind. Orbit has three partnered programs underway with large pharmaceutical companies wishing to develop new peptide drugs and is also developing its own portfolio. It is hoped the technology works rapidly enough to enable tens of drug discovery programmes to be run each year.
Tumour cells including those from ovarian, breast, pancreatic, colon, prostate, and bladder cancer overexpress a particular ligand, CD95L, on their surfaces. BioMoti has 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 CD95R, 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.
Fullerenes are hollow spheres of carbon atoms, the simplest of which is made of 60 carbon atoms. DCM has developed a method of making fullerenes which contain an atom of another element inside, such as Gadolinium, Yttrium or Nitrogen. These novel materials might have applications such as an extremely accurate atomic clock on a chip, a water filter which would kill bacteria, a method of diagnosing cancer in tissue, a better contrast agent for MRI scans, for improving the efficiency of photovoltaics, and for use in certain quantum computing applications.
Process Vision have developed an inspection system for detecting and measuring liquids in gas pipelines. Gas pipelines should not have liquids in them, but condensation from the gas does occur or liquids carry over from the treatment plants. If the liquids accumulate sufficiently, they can fill the whole pipe diameter and then be pushed along as a slug, wreaking havoc at the next gas treatment plant or compression turbine.
Spendology develops and licenses a B2B digital platform which allows travel agents, tour operators, airlines and cruise companies to provide a mail order travel money service to their customers via a dedicated white label app and website.
The Smarter Food Company (TSFC) aims to produce a food to reduce fasting blood glucose (FBG) levels in people who are defined as being ‘pre-diabetic’, which could have a significant impact on the incidence of type-II diabetes (T2D). TSFC’s initial product is soup manufactured from a unique and proprietary variety of broccoli that has been naturally bred to contain very high concentrations of glucoraphanin (VHG).
There are over 60 million glaucoma cases globally and up to 40% of the patients will be severely visually impaired in one eye. Existing drugs can slow the disease progression, but are not protective. There are no drugs in development with any demonstrated ability to protect retinal cells and prevent vision loss in patients with glaucoma. Connexin Therapeutics is developing novel drugs to protect vision and prevent blindness.
The ability to synthesise complex chiral molecules is of increasing importance across the chemical industries. Challenges with asymmetric catalytic processes have limited the ability of drug development and agrochemical screening programmes to access new chemicals. ASR will provide better access to existing complex targets and new chemical space.
Sasets provides software for construction companies to replace paper forms with a mobile app, for a jump in efficiency. Time stamped, geotagged photographs may be added to the forms and information such as the weather can be entered automatically. 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. Project managers can receive accurate and up-to-the-minute progress reports and take timely corrective action if required.
Electrowinning Technologies has a method for controlling the very large currents which are used in metal winning operations. 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.
Ibexis Technologies designed and manufactured self-contained dataloggers which operated in remote places, recording and transmitting data back to base either using the local mobile phone network or via a satellite. The company survives but is likely to close and we have written the value of the investment down to £0.
Abgentis aims to develop antibiotics which are less likely to allow antibiotic resistance to develop. Abgentis will deploy unique insight 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.
Message MissileMessage Missile was used by businesses to enable them to send messages to their customers based on their location. 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 first version of the software was completed in September 2013, and approved by Apple soon after. The business has now been closed and the company has been struck off the register at Companies House. After tax relief, the cash loss on investment was only £12,300.