Nurturing new spin-out businesses
We have worked to develop and accommodate many spin-out companies across a range of sectors, representing many Schools of the University. Most have been in the Medical, Engineering and Physical Science sectors.
Based on academic research generated by the University of Birmingham, these spin-out companies have contributed to the local economic development and have bought many new jobs to the region.
We are continually seeking investors and partners for our spin-out companies.
View A-Z list of current and past spin-out companies
Visit the website of Alta Innovations Ltd, the University's trading and commercialisation Company, for more information.
Celentyx - Teaching old drugs new tricks
An excellent example of a University of Birmingham spin-out company is Celentyx Ltd, a pharmaceutical company that develops treatments for common diseases by finding new uses for existing drugs.
The Company was founded upon applied research originating from the world-renowned Medical Research Council (UK) Centre for Immune Regulation, situated in the University of Birmingham College of Medical and Dental Sciences.
Celentyx Ltd is the brainchild of Dr Nicholas Barnes and professor John Gordon from the University's College of Medical and Dental Sciences. The Company uses a novel technology developed by the founders, called NCIP™ (Novel Clinical Identification Profiling), to assess the suitability of existing drugs in the treatment of new illnesses. The process uses only human tissues and cells to identify potential drugs, which adds to the clinical relevance of the results.
Previous research from the Birmingham team has already shown the potential of medicines such as Prozac and drugs used to treat Parkinson's disease as possible therapies for certain types of lymphoma and leukaemia.
As well as conducting original research, Celentyx also make their NCIP™ methodologies available to other pharmaceutical companies, who are looking to examine the effect potential new drugs have on the human immune system.
AdSurf Engineering race from the laboratory to NASCAR
The University provides a launch-pad for exciting and innovative spin-out businesses. One such venture, AdSurf Engineering was established to develop advanced and innovative surface engineering technologies for industrial components.
The company was founded in 2001 by the late Professor Tom Bell, then head of the University’s Surface Engineering Group in the School of Metallurgy and Materials. By that time, Prof. Bell had spent over thirty years on pioneering research in the field of surface engineering of metals and had established an international reputation. Following in his father’s footsteps, Tom Bell Junior, now heads up the company and explained “my father was passionate about his work and set out to bridge the gap between the blue sky research he was involved in at the University and finding ‘real life’ applications and solutions for industrial problems”.
Amongst the companies on AdSurf Engineering’s impressive client list is llmor Engineering. Based in the US, Ilmor have a successful track record in producing engines for NASCAR and Formula One racing cars. Before consulting AdSurfEng, the titanium up-graded valves in Ilmor's cars suffered reliability issues over full race distances. Using cutting edge technology AdSurf Engineering is able to convert the surface of the titanium valves to a ceramic that provide a high surface hardness. This overcomes the technical barrier and improves valve life, without changing their dimensions or core material properties. The company calls this unique process for titanium, “ceramic conversion” technology.
AdSurf Engineering is also working with healthcare giant Smith and Nephew who are currently conducting final trials on a new surface treatment to increase the durability of their orthopaedic implants.
Companies from a diverse range of industrial sectors bring their manufacturing issues to AdSurf Engineering seeking a solution. Working closely with its clients, it is often able to tailor one of its existing patented technologies and solve the problem. Occasionally, when something novel is required, a new be-spoke solution can be developed, specific to the application. As Tom explained “every material has specific characteristics that may cause technological problems, but at AdSurf Engineering we can use our intimate knowledge of surfaces to enhance a materials performance”
As for the future, AdSurf Engineering is planning to move into new markets both at home and abroad.
Inanovate - Opening doors to a smaller world
UNIVERSITY OF Birmingham spin-out company, Inanovate was founded in 2005, leveraging a unique nanoscale surface fabrication technology developed at the University’s Nanoscale Physics Research Laboratory, headed up by Professor Richard Palmer.
This novel approach to surface fabrication enabled breakthroughs in protein micro-array surface technology, culminating in Inanovate’s first product, the i-Slide™, which provides a premier surface for protein microarray experiments.
Inanovate is now developing a ‘real-time’ protein biomarker screening platform which will build on the performance advantages of the i-Slide to provide a solution for more accurate protein screening for both biomarker discovery and clinical diagnostic applications.
As Managing Director, David Ure explains, “By operating our system in ‘real-time we will be able to generate information on how a protein interaction develops over time. Such information will help researchers and clinicians distinguish between true signals and non-specific background noise, and could have a dramatic impact on the efficiencies of biomarker screening/validation programs, as well as improving the accuracy of diagnostic tests.”
Inanovate is presently working on biomarker discovery programs for prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, and sepsis. Inanovate would be interested in hearing from private and institutional investors, as well as potential strategic partners in the medical diagnostics field, with a view to raising further investment either for individual programs, or at a corporate level in early/mid 2011.