Innovation news in brief: Energy Catalyst; Ascarii; Centauri Therapeutics; medical devices

Energy innovation: funding competition for businesses

Businesses are invited to apply for a share of £9 million from the Energy Catalyst for innovative projects that solve industry challenges.

The aim of the Energy Catalyst is to speed up the best of UK innovation at all development stages. It helps businesses progress their innovations to commercial readiness.

Innovate UK, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Department of Energy and Climate Change set up the Energy Catalyst in 2013. The Department for International Development joined as a co-funder of the Energy Catalyst in 2016.

Innovative businesses and researchers from any sector can apply for a share of £9 million. Proposed projects should address the three major challenges facing the energy industry:

  • Low carbon
  • Security of supply
  • Affordability

There are three awards:

  • Early-stage award - technical feasibility
  • Mid-stage awards - technology development
  • Late-stage awards - pre-commercial technology validation

Find out more about this competition

Funding boost for Centauri Therapeutics

Technology investor NCL Innovation has joined a financing round for Centauri Therapeutics Ltd.

The investment round will enable Centauri Therapeutics to develop its leading ‘Alphamer’ platform targeting Anti-Microbial Resistant (AMR) pathogens, at its base at Discovery Park, Sandwich, Kent, and also exploit the technology within the field of immune-oncology, via a new industrial joint venture.

Over the next 30 years, the World Health Organisation predicts that deaths from AMR pathogens will exceed deaths from cancer. The widespread use of antibiotics both in humans and animals has led to a prevalence of superbugs including strains of Pseudomonas and E. coli that are resistant to common antibiotics. Without effective antibiotics, the whole of modern western medicine is in danger.

The investment was made via NCL’s early stage venture vehicle, the Discovery Park Technology Investment Fund (DPTIF).

Jerry Biggs, CEO of NCL Innovation commented: "We are delighted to join the investment round for Centauri Therapeutics, via the Discovery Park Technology Investment Fund. Working alongside companies such as Horizon plc will give Centauri the best chance of bringing this game changing technology to market, potentially helping to save thousands of lives within the next generation."

Mike Westby, CEO Centauri Theraperutics, said: “Support from DPTIF has been key to securing the Discovery Park site as our R&D headquarters. As pharmaceutical companies reduced their footprint in the UK, a large pool of highly experienced scientists have become available to young biotech companies such as ours. Discovery Park provides the ideal environment for experienced teams to translate innovation into novel medicines.”

Ascarii looks to Oz

An innovative provider of cloud-based business management software has its sights set on Australia as it forges ahead with its global ambitions.

Ascarii, the latest tenant to join the North East Technology Park, NETPark, in Sedgefield, County Durham, is targeting a £10 million turnover within three years – growth of 500 per cent – and to triple its number of staff.

Ascarii, which was only founded four years ago, is now one of the UK’s leading providers of cloud-based SAP Business One business management solutions. The software is a tool which delivers time saving, cost effective solutions across a single business system, so businesses can access processes, such as accounts or undertake stock taking, from anywhere in the world.

The company, which has a turnover of £2 million, has 10 employees but plans to swell the figure by five by the end of the year and to triple the number of staff within the next five years.

Stuart Wilson, Ascarii’s CEO, said: “We have an international client base, with more being signed up every month. The east coast of the US could be a strong market for us, therefore it is on our growth roadmap, and our current focus will to open an office in Australia so we can truly provide 24-hour support.

“Our solution benefits both start-ups with ambitious growth though to brewing and beverage giant SABMiller, which has 64,000 employees. SAP Business One Cloud offers a solution that can not only grow as you grow, it also offers stability and operational performance increases to already established businesses.”

Majority of businesses consider moving IT to the cloud

Nearly two-thirds of UK businesses plan to move their entire IT estate to the cloud in the near future, and three quarters expect to increase their cloud usage in 2016, according to the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF).

With businesses increasingly consuming IT in an on-demand, as-a-service way, common reasons for switching to the cloud include greater flexibility, scalability and 24/7 availability of services, as well as cost and time savings.

Health monitoring device adoption set to soar

A new study has estimated that the adoption of health monitoring devices will nearly treble by 2020, exceeding 70 million worldwide, up from an estimated 26 million this year.

The Juniper Research study, Worldwide Digital Health: Developed and Emerging Market Opportunities 2016-2020, forecasts that the use of monitoring devices is set to witness a swift rise. However, it highlights the need for new entrants to prove that their hardware is able to measure health indicators with the same accuracy as standard medical devices.

Furthermore, it claims that the Big Data collected by such monitoring devices presents a significant medium term opportunity for platforms such as IBM Watson Health Cloud. These already offer greater insight into health information and enable more efficient decision making through data analytics.