Tuesday, September 28, 2021

University of Nottingham’s spin out portfolio attracts millions in external investment

A new report shows that technologies developed from research carried out at the University of Nottingham have attracted millions of pounds’ worth of investment over the past 12 months, supporting the region’s economic prosperity and reputation for scientific breakthroughs.

The University has 25 spin-out companies who are developing technologies which began life as research projects and are now being turned into products which can transform people’s lives.

They include Cerca Magnetics, whose next-generation brain scanner builds on a long track record in medical imaging research which stretches back to Sir Peter Mansfield’s Nobel Prize-winning contribution to the MRI scanner.

Cerca has received substantial investment to help it further develop the world’s most advanced wearable brain imaging device, capable of revolutionising the diagnosis of nervous disorders like epilepsy.

It is one of a number of advanced technologies highlighted in an annual report into the performance of the spin-out portfolio, which is managed on the University’s behalf by Nottingham Technology Ventures (NTV).

Professor Dame Jessica Corner, the University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange, chairs the NTV board and says the vital contribution universities make to life-changing research has been graphically illustrated by the rapid development of Covid vaccines.

She said: “The partnership between academia, the life sciences industry and government that has enabled discovery, development, approval and roll-out of the vaccines has been a landmark achievement at a critical moment of the world around us.

“This is why I believe that the University of Nottingham’s continuing commitment to supporting and investing in discovery and knowledge exchange has never been more important.

“This has long been a significant part of the University’ contribution to the world around us. The pandemic has emphasised the critical role that universities play in providing the backbone of the UK’s science, research and innovation landscape.”

Over the past six years, the University’s support for spin-out companies has seen it receive a £16.5m return. In the last year alone, external investors have put £6.5m of financial support into the businesses in the portfolio, while the University has realised £1.6m in cash and two new spin-out companies have been formed.

Spin-out companies receiving external investment include regenerative medicines business Locate Bio, which is developing technologies intended to help people suffering with debilitating orthopaedic conditions; and BlueSkeye AI, which is developing mobile technologies which can monitor mental health.

The University has also supported student entrepreneurs Amos Teshuva and Frazer Harper, whose business – WalkIn – has developed a virtual queueing app which is now used by top London restaurants to avoid customers standing waiting for tables.

Dr Andy Naylor, the CEO of NTV, added: “This has, without doubt, been a challenging year for the investment climate.

“But the University’s long-term commitment to investing in research which delivers societal gains continues to pay dividends both in terms of the financial returns it is able to reinvest and in the progress of technologies which improve lives and make a tangible difference to the world around us.”

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