Innovation news in brief: 3D printing; human reproduction; Kaido; drug discovery

Innovate UK hopes to stimulate innovation in 3D printing

Additive manufacturing innovation: apply for funding

Innovate UK is investing up to £4.5 million in industrial research projects that will stimulate innovation in additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing.

Additive manufacturing is a well-established tool for rapid prototyping and tooling. It can provide direct production of end-use components and consumer goods. These can be in a wide variety of global market sectors – from medical devices to aerospace.

Businesses can apply for funding to help them explore and develop their wider digital manufacturing capability. Projects must show a significant innovation step in both additive manufacturing and connected digital manufacturing.

Find out more about this competition and apply

Scientists identify protein that could improve pregnancy complications

Scientists at the University of Sheffield have identified a protein involved in the development of the human placenta may also help embryos implant in the womb – something which could improve treatments for recurrent miscarriages and pre-eclampsia.

The pioneering study, published today (Friday 13 May 2016) in the journal Human Reproduction, shows that a protein called Syncytin-1, which was the result of a viral infection of our primate ancestors 25 million years ago, is first secreted on the surface of a developing embryo even before it implants in the womb.

Prof Harry Moore, co-director for the University’s Centre for Stem Cell Biology and lead author of the study, said: “Recurrent miscarriages, foetal growth restriction syndrome and pre-eclampsia are all significant and very stressful complications of pregnancy.

“Eventually we may be able to develop blood tests based on our results to identify pregnancies that might be at risk and also develop appropriate therapies.”

Kaido secures £50,000 funding from Creative England

Innovation Birmingham-based Kaido has secured a £50,000 investment from Creative England’s Interactive Healthcare Programme to market-test and accelerate the launch of its new health and well-being platform.

Kaido’s digital platform promotes learning and best practice. By using smart technology and access to world-leading expertise, Kaido empowers individuals and their communities to make educated lifestyle choices.

Kaido has recently been accepted on to the Serendip Smart City Incubator at Innovation Birmingham’s new 42,149 sq ft iCentrum building. They will join the Digital Health Quarter and will co-locate with commercial partner, the West Midlands Academic Health Science Network, to market-test and further refine their service.

Richard Westman, founder at Kaido, said: “We are thrilled to have received this investment from Creative England; which will provide vital support as we continue to develop our software and push it out to market.

“The funding will help considerably as we look forward to joining iCentrum’s Serendip Smart City Incubator; enabling us to further extend our reach and knowledge by working alongside the West Midland Academic Health Science Network and other notable commercial partners.”

An exchange of ideas

Entrepreneurs from Portugal visited Exeter Science Park recently to research opportunities to accelerate the growth of their companies in the UK. At the same time, British businessman Piers Corfield of Exeter Science Park-based tech business Dashboard visited the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, to establish new business links there.

The exchange has been organised through Exeter Science Park’s fast-growth business support partner Fabrica de Startups in an initiative designed to build international relationships, particularly in big data and technology.

Stewart Noakes, COO of Fabrica de Startups and entrepreneur in residence at the Exeter Science Park explained: “This initiative enables like-minded businesses to share ideas, knowledge and space.

“Fabrica supports a business incubation programme in Lisbon and, in my role at Exeter Science Park, I am advising and nurturing the fast growth of innovative start-ups. This exchange is the first step towards a business network that enables like-minded start-ups to collaborate and grow,” Noakes added.

Robin Jackson, director of Exeter Science Park Centre said: “These connections and the opportunities for future collaboration, especially in the science, data and technology sectors, are exactly what the Exeter Science Park was designed to achieve. The Centre itself provides flexible working space and an environment that has been created to promote ideas, innovation and knowledge sharing.”

Roslin stem cell companies join forces

Roslin Cell Sciences and Roslin Cellab, two companies previously created as spin-outs from the Roslin Institute and both focussed on using stem cells to discover new drugs, have merged under a new parent company, Censo Biotechnologies Ltd.

The company produces stem cells from large diverse groups of individuals, so that drug development companies can understand how the efficacy of their drugs varies across the population. This underpins faster drug development and enables the right drug to be targeted to the right patient.

Aidan Courtney, CEO of Censo Biotechnologies, commented “I am delighted that we have been able to combine the resources which have developed in parallel in Roslin Cell Sciences and Roslin Cellab. The combined group will deliver a diverse range of research services to drug discovery companies which recognise the immense potential for using human stem cells and their derivatives in modern drug discovery."

He added: "We will retain a connection to our Roslin Institute roots through the Roslin Cell Sciences subsidiary, but have taken the opportunity to develop a new corporate identity which highlights our ambition for the technology.”