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#UK PragmatIC takes funding to £50 million


Cambridge flexible electronics business PragmatIC has raised an additional £13 million for further global scale-up and appointed former CMR Surgical chair Erik Langaker to a similar role. 

Langaker is also investing in the round as PragmatIC builds towards its vision of a trillion connected circuits.

CEO Scott White told Business Weekly: “I can’t disclose the specific investors but it is from global backers and is our fourth institutional round. In total we have raised around £50m.

“The funding is primarily focused on scaling production and ramping sales both in RFID and beyond via our FlexIC Foundry.”

White also revealed that global headcount had now reached some 90 staff of which around 40 are based in Cambridge UK.

Regarding the new, high profile chairman, White added: “Erik brings us valuable experience alongside market-relevant knowledge at a pivotal time as we scale the business towards our vision of a trillion flexible integrated circuits.”

Langaker is independent chair and complements a strong existing board of directors. 

He has an extensive background of developing and commercialising technology businesses with 30 years’ international experience in private equity and entrepreneurial ventures. 

He has been an active investor and chair or board director in 25 companies. Many are in complementary sectors to PragmatIC, such as his current chair position at Kezzler AS whose patented item-level serialisation technology helps brands combat counterfeit goods, eliminate unauthorised distribution, and improve consumer engagement. 

As chair of CMR Surgical he helped raise more than £250m, leading the business to an increase in valuation from £30m to well over £1 billion and unicorn status – while the number of employees increased from around 40 to nearly 500. 

He brings extensive experience in chairing public companies, most recently as chair of European R & D engineering company Data Respons ASA which was sold to AKKA Technologies SE.

Langaker said: “I am honoured to join PragmatIC and its talented team of innovators at such an exciting time as they are poised to disrupt the electronics industry as well as the supply side of many consumer goods industries.

“With an increasing focus on and need for a circular economy and transparent supply chains, PragmatIC is ‘just in time’ in bringing a cost effective and highly scalable solution to the market.

“Opportunities in RFID alone have the potential to exceed a trillion units, and I can see immediate possibilities across healthcare, logistics and retail just from within my own network of contacts.”

from Business Weekly https://ift.tt/2R9N2Ri

Publié dans #UK

#UK Cambridge intelligent clothing startup funded by Techstars


Cambridge-based intelligent clothing company Decorte Future Industries (DFI) is one of 10 companies chosen from over 1100 global applicants for the Techstars 2020 cohort.

Held digitally for the first time, the grand reveal not only put DFI in elite company but also further bolstered its burgeoning cash position. The chosen few receive $120k investment, $1m in perks, and take part in the Techstars signature three-month accelerator programme. 

Emerging from stealth in February, Decorte Future Industries builds clothing that is always-fitting, monitors your health and gives the wearer digital superpowers by allowing them to control devices and robotics through their clothing. DFI’s first-ever pitch was chosen by the Cambridge Angels to be filmed and broadcast on BBC One

In May, DFI secured the most competitive Innovate UK grant in history to use its technology to combat COVID-19 in care homes. 

Pitching during the Techstars press conference, CEO and University of Cambridge alumnus Dr Roeland Decorte said the company aimed to “turn the human body itself into the most intuitive UI for interacting with the digital world.”

He said: “Our intelligent clothing has three primary capabilities: body-adaptivity, biometric monitoring, and intuitive remote control of devices and robotics. 

“So our clothing automatically adapts to any wearer’s body shape or size, solving the primary problem in the $1.5 trillion clothing market, uses built-in sensors to enable preventative and predictive healthcare, and allows hands-free control of devices and robotics through intuitive gesture, touch and voice commands – for example controlling a drone simply by speaking and moving or touching your arm.”

Decorte spoke about the need to remove screens as the physical barrier separating the human and digital world, to allow “seamless human machine teaming. In effect we seek to give the wearers of our clothing digital superpowers.” 

Decorte also revealed for the first time that the company had secured just under a quarter million pounds in equity-free funding, additional to the $120k Techstars investment, and was preparing to close a pre-seed round. 

In his pitch, Decorte said: “This means we’re an early stage company going into a period of massive change where we’re growing, taking on new employees and need to scale from essentially an R & D-focused group that arose from the University of Cambridge to one that interacts closely with, and takes feedback directly from our customer segments.”

After the pitch, Decorte said: “We were delighted when, after a rigorous but amazing interview process, we were selected by Techstars out of more than a thousand companies to join what we’ve already seen is an amazing cohort. 

“The programme comes just at the right time for us as we’re growing rapidly and need to build the most solid foundations for long-term expansion: we’re ready to distil the advice of the hundreds of mentors in the Techstars network to do so.”

While the company will be based in Techstars’ London offices in Shoreditch until the end of the year, Decorte saidt the St John’s Innovation Centre company remains fully committed to Cambridge.

He said: “The Cambridge Phenomenon remains such a powerful force – in which Business Weekly has played a key role – and our identity is inextricably tied to the university and the city. We fully plan on keeping our headquarters here in Silicon Fen even while being based in London for the near future.”

In his Techstars pitch, Decorte ended on a light note: “Our company’s overall motto is ‘human-machine teaming for all’, but my personal motto is let’s make Iron Man look outdated.”

from Business Weekly https://ift.tt/34ZTEtI

Publié dans #UK

#UK Transforming care delivery


Healthcare has found itself tested in recent months, writes Pierre Socha, Partner at Amadeus Capital Partners.

The pandemic has placed an unprecedented strain on hospitals and clinics, from an initial shortage of testing and medical supplies, to accessibility issues among rural and underserved populations, to non-Covid patients prevented from receiving treatments as entire wards are repurposed and hospitals still sealed off.

The virus has exposed fault lines in healthcare delivery that will have lasting side effects on patients and providers. 2020 may well be remembered as the time when medical interactions shifted comprehensively to digital and distributed delivery, and care systems decentralised once again.

Built For Uniformity and Volume

Large hospitals are complex structures, housing a vast range of services and units, that have developed in a patchwork manner over decades. They were able to function optimally as long as care was provided in the manner of Ford’s production line: high volume with low variability. This one-size-fits-all approach was, until recently, the norm – from care delivery to drug discovery.

We are at an inflexion point in healthcare delivery. We have a situation where the industry is expected to deliver 21st century care – personalised, adaptive and continuous – through a rigid and localised infrastructure. 

The disconnect is exacerbated by a growing and ageing population, the rising prevalence of chronic diseases, unequal access to infrastructure and technological advancements, evolving payment models and higher labour costs amidst workforce shortages.

The industry as a whole, and most governments, are facing this unprecedented challenge and are actively supporting innovations that augment the capacity of existing infrastructures, all while gradually enabling decentralisation of care. This is where industry winners are emerging.

We believe that large hospitals will evolve from settings where patients often stay longer than required or frequently return to deal with chronic conditions, to centres adapted to customised treatments for complex cases, often requiring a multi-specialist approach.

It is a known fact that speed and quality of patients’ physical and mental recovery correlate with their mobility, connectivity, independence and closeness to home. As a result, patients are being moved faster out of acute care into specialist centres or into their community where they should continue to receive support.

Substantial growth opportunities lie in improving care delivery inside the hospital and providing better intervention beyond its walls.

Sometimes, solutions already exist and are hiding in plain sight. For all the advancements in connected health, the reality is that even if people are encouraged to live more healthily, monitor their biodata and access telemedicine, most medical care will still be delivered by hospitals, GPs and community nurses. 

As an example, considerable value can be unlocked by enhancing their workflows and delivering outstanding on-site or remote experiences. Sometimes, solutions don’t exist and have to be invented before being integrated into care delivery systems. Think about cell and gene therapies, a new breed of treatments for diseases that have often eluded us. Today they simply cannot be delivered reliably, on time and at scale without a complete rethink of manufacturing processes and logistics.

Personalised and Decentralised Care Delivery

We invest in daring founders who often believe that the future is about fitting healthcare to the patient, not the other way around. When it comes to care delivery, I would group some of these businesses in three categories:

1) Technologies enabling specialist care – These are full-stack providers with a dedicated focus on certain conditions or specific domains. They go deep, vertical and provide expert end-to-end solutions to specific subpopulations of patients. These super-specialised companies can take on risk and be assertive in deploying their products.

Congenica is the world’s leading solution for rapid genomic data analysis and clinical interpretation. It specialises in the diagnostic of genetic conditions and has become the backbone of genomic programmes across the world, starting in the UK with the 100,000 Genomes initiative.

Igenomix has pioneered reproductive genetics and works to make a world in which infertility is no longer an impossible barrier. They have helped thousands of couples conceive by providing robust and efficient solutions at the preconception, preimplantation and prenatal phases of their reproductive journeys.

2) Technologies enabling adaptative pathways – Then there are horizontal platforms that create the connective tissue between patients and providers across different care settings. The goal here is to drive efficiency in communications and care coordination.

Lumeon is the leader in care pathway orchestration, blending together advanced care process models with patient and care team engagement to ensure best practice care delivery at substantial scale. It optimises each individual patient journey – and their medical and financial outcomes – for some of the world’s largest medical insurance and healthcare groups.

Quibim is a new addition to the Amadeus family. It discovers and validates ultra-high accuracy and quantitative imaging biomarkers and it has one of the richest catalogues of biomarkers and non-invasive detection methodologies in the world. Quibim is a reference radiomics platform for whole-body solutions and in March it also became the official European platform for high-throughput screening of COVID-19 cases.

Doctify is a British leader in telemedicine and care quality ratings for secondary care. They work with some of the largest healthcare groups and support patients through their journey by removing information asymmetry, inefficiency, and lack of transparency.

3) Technologies enabling personalised logistics – Finally, there is the ‘last mile’ of care delivery. These are companies automating, leveraging AI and the latest in instrumentation and medtech to offer new standards of care and bring the solution to the patient.

OriBiotech is the future of cell and gene therapy manufacturing. Each patient’s personalised treatment requires a unique manufacturing process. Ori is developing patient-specific, stand-alone manufacturing units that automate and standardise the entire vein-to-vein process, allowing pharmas to bring their life-saving therapies from bench to bedside in a timely and economically viable way.

Natrox is the gold standard for the healing of chronic wounds. It’s a fully portable and discreet device that restores mobility and independence to patients. It heals the worst of wounds systematically and at an unprecedented rate – the holy grail in wound care. It is a poster technology when it comes to continuous care being transferred from acute back to homes.

Organox has already helped transplant hundreds of livers all over the world. Its technology is fully automated, easy-to-use and can preserve the donor organ in a functional and optimal state for up to 24 hours – 3 times longer than other methods. It is transforming logistics as organs can be delivered over thousands of miles and need not be transplanted in the middle of the night anymore, materially improving outcomes.

Healthcare As A Service

As with any industry, a large and delighted user base drives rapid growth. Over and above clinical outcome or cost-efficiency, what these selected companies have in common is that they also nail user experience. You will struggle to achieve mass adoption if you limit yourself to key opinion leaders’ endorsements or clinical evidence. These are certainly essential milestones, but they are only the first step.

Users must be front and centre for a product to take off – and they often are not the patients. Think about augmenting existing infrastructure and the workflow of nurses for instance; if they are your users, obsess about making their lives simpler. 

Focus on those who, day after day, run our healthcare services, often doing the impossible to keep us all safe and healthy. Help them and they will become lifelong ambassadors.


from Business Weekly https://ift.tt/2EXRrnH

Publié dans #UK

#UK Riverlane creates quantum computing history


Cambridge technology sensation Riverlane has created history in the commercial development of quantum computers with its latest success – and earned a handsome tribute from Arm co-founder Hermann Hauser.

The Cambridge University spin-out’s successful UK trial of a high-performance, universal operating system is a landmark moment for maximising the power and reach of quantum computing.

In Deltaflow.OS, which has been created by Riverlane, applications are implemented on quantum hardware through a carefully chosen interface, or “hardware abstraction layer.”

Since this approach enables rapid control of operations, Deltaflow.OS will improve the performance for near-term quantum computing applications by orders of magnitude compared to other interfaces, such as those used by IBM. 

For example, computational chemistry applications important in drug discovery or materials design will run 30 times faster on near-term devices. 

When carrying out quantum error-correction, which is essential to build large and reliable quantum computers, the performance improvement due to Deltaflow.OS will be on the order of 1000 fold, the business reveals.

A standardised definition of this interface makes Deltaflow.OS portable to all four leading qubit technologies.

Riverlane CEO Dr Steve Brierley said: “We have solved a really important problem in quantum computing: how hardware and software interact whilst teasing the highest possible performance out of a quantum computer.

“This finally shifts the complexity of designing quantum computer applications from hardware to software.”

Quantum computers currently producing calculations, such as those used by Google and IBM, run on bespoke operating systems invisible to external users. These are not portable to other hardware technologies or other labs. 

To external users, IBM offers an interface set at a very high level which leads to low-performance implementations.

“Quantum computing is currently where classical computing would be if it had to painstakingly produce an individual, tailored operating system for every existing conventional computer in the world. Not very far, in other words,” said Dr Brierley.

The trial demonstrated that Deltaflow.OS successfully completed a key technical task using the hardware abstraction layer – the ‘hello world’ requirement of quantum computing – known as a ‘Rabi oscillation.’

The task was carried out on a quantum computer at the University of Oxford in partnership with quantum hardware company Oxford Ionics, which operates with trapped-ion technology.

As Business Weekly previously revealed, a Riverlane-led consortium, consisting of Oxford Ionics, Hitachi Europe, Arm, the National Physical Laboratory as well as hardware startups Oxford Quantum Circuits, Seeqc, Universal Quantum and Duality Quantum Photonics, was recently awarded a £7.6 million grant by the UK government to bring Deltaflow.OS to market.

Within this grant, Deltaflow.OS will be installed on all working quantum computers in the UK which includes all four quantum hardware technologies: trapped-ion qubits, superconducting qubits, silicon qubits and photonic qubits.

Standardising the software-hardware interaction for quantum computers under the leadership of the National Physical Laboratory, this will transform the UK quantum technology ecosystem and make the UK a world-leading force in quantum computing.

Dr Hauser, who co-founded the iconic Cambridge success stories Acorn Computers and superchip architect Arm. lauded Riverlane’s progress in his capacity as venture partner of Amadeus Capital – an investor in the business.

He said: “Defining the right interface between hardware and software was instrumental for the success of the microprocessor. I am excited about the UK quantum computing industry taking steps for this success story to repeat itself.”

Quantum computers consist of fragile qubits equivalent to bits, the smallest unit of data on a traditional computer. Qubits require a complex control system, which an operating system must run on, to keep them operable.
Deltaflow.OS writes code directly onto all elements of that control system. 

Since the fastest elements, FPGAs, can be harnessed for time-critical tasks this improves reliability and greatly increases the speed at which a calculation can be performed. 

Applications written in Deltaflow.OS are faster than those written in IBM’s Qiskit because they make use of FPGAs where necessary.

The increased computing power promised by quantum computers is expected to drive innovation in the chemical industry, pharmaceutical industry and healthcare. 

In the long term, quantum computers will transform cryptography and may have an impact on machine learning, artificial intelligence, agriculture, manufacturing, finance and energy.

Backed by leading venture-capital funds and the University of Cambridge, Riverlane develops software that transforms quantum computers from experimental technology into commercial products. 

It teases the highest possible performance out of quantum software to reach quantum advantage sooner. 

By making its software portable across technologies, early adopters don’t need to choose which technology to pursue. The company goes deep into the stack so that hardware partners can focus on the physics and build better full-stack solutions. 

Riverlane also works with the chemical, pharmaceutical and materials industries to improve algorithms and specify early ‘killer’ applications of quantum computers. 

from Business Weekly https://ift.tt/2EIwVra

Publié dans #UK

#Asia #Japan How this silkworm startup is taking on the pandemic


Bio-tech is messy because life is complicated.

A lot of attention is given to computers sequencing genomes, but some of the most advanced and important work is done by studying and using other living things to make our own lives better.

Kenta Yamato co-founded Kaico to commercialize a technique that uses silkworms to manufacture small-batch custom proteins. And Kico is involved with everything from veterinary medicine to Japan’s search for a coronavirus vaccine.

We also talk about the challenges or creating startups based on university technology and the one e-commerce model in Japan that just won’t go away.

I think you’ll enjoy the conversation.

Show Notes

How to get proteins from a silkworm (It’s not fun for the silkworm)
Why silkworms, in particular, must be used
The importance and uses of small-batch, custom proteins
The start of a silkworm startup
The most common (and least successful) Japanese e-commerce model
Why it’s so hard for Japanese universities to spin-out startups
How Kaico silkworms are part of the fight against covid-19
How to scale a silkworm startup

Links from the Founder

Everything you ever wanted to know about Kaico
Friend Kenta on Facebook
Connect with him on LinkedIn
A Kaico video explainer

Leave a comment
Welcome to Disrupting Japan, straight talk from Japan’s most successful entrepreneurs. I’m Tim Romero and thanks for joining me.
Today, we’re going to be talking about worms. No, no, wait, don’t go, I promise this is going to be really interesting.
Today, we’re going to sit down and talk with Kenta Yamato of Kaico, a Kyushu-based startup that is using silkworms to rapidly produce custom small-batch innovative proteins that are used for bio-research, medicine, and they play a part in Japan’s search for coronavirus vaccine. It’s a fascinating process but admittedly one that’s not particularly fun for the silkworms themselves.
We also talk about the most popular and most unsuccessful e-commerce business model in Japan, the challenges Japanese universities in spinning out startups, and we even cover some practical solutions to that problem. But you know, Kenta tells that story much better than I can, so let’s get right to the interview.

Tim: So I’m sitting here with Kenta Yamato of Kaico, a company that uses silkworm to produce specific protein used in medical tests and vaccine, and thank you for sitting down with me.
Kenta: Yes, thank you for me and I have a very pleasure to explain our company’s story. Yeah, thank you very much.
Tim: It’s great to have you on the show. I tried to explain very briefly what Kaico does, but I think you can explain it a lot better than I can, so at like a high level, what does Kaico do?
Kenta: We started Kaico two years ago in 2018. Kaiko means silkworm in English. Maybe you know silkworm can make silk for clothes, but we will use this kaiko silkworm for making proteins. We are a startup company from Kyushu University and our products are many proteins, the protein the other companies cannot make because it is difficult to make it. We make this protein by silkworm.
Tim: So if I understand the basic process, you inject the silkworm with a virus containing the target gene, and then it makes the proteins as part of its silk, and then you extract the proteins from the silk?
Kenta: No, no. First, we’ll incorporate the gene of target protein into baculovirus, so this baculovirus is safe for us humans and animals, but baculovirus damage to only silkworms and we will insert this recombinant baculovirus into silkworm and their body can make the specific protein in their cell, and finally, we’ll collect and purify the body liquid from the silkworm.
Tim: Okay, so it’s not from the silk, it’s from the silkworms themselves that you extract the proteins.
Kenta: Yes, we don’t use silk.
Tim: Okay. So why silkworm? Is there something about silkworms that makes it easy to generate protein…

from Disrupting Japan: Startups and Innovation in Japan https://ift.tt/3jpIthM

#UK Gnats great: Sanger maps mosquito cells to help fight malaria


Dr Sarah Teichmann

Cambridge, Swedish and US scientists have created the first cell atlas of mosquito immune cells to understand how the insects fight malaria and other infections. 

Researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute in Cambridge UK, Umeå University, Sweden and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA, discovered new types of mosquito immune cells, including a rare cell type that could be involved in limiting malaria infection.

They also identified molecular pathways implicated in controlling the malaria parasite.

Published today in Science, the new ‘gnatlas’ findings offer opportunities for uncovering novel ways to prevent mosquitoes from spreading the malaria parasite to humans and break the chain of malaria transmission. 

The atlas will also be a valuable resource for researchers trying to understand and control other mosquito-borne diseases such as Dengue or Zika.

Malaria is a life-threatening disease that affects more than 200 million people worldwide and caused an estimated 405,000 deaths in 2018 alone, the majority of which were children under five. 

It is caused by Plasmodium parasites, spread via the bites of female Anopheles mosquitoes. Breaking the chain of transmission from human to mosquito to human is key for reducing the burden of malaria.

The mosquito immune system controls how the insect can tolerate or transmit parasites or viruses, however little is known about the exact cell types involved. 

In this first in-depth study of mosquito immune cells, a team of researchers studied two types of mosquito: Anopheles gambiae, which transmits malaria, and Aedes aegypti, which carries the viruses that causes Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika infections.

Using cutting edge single cell techniques the researchers analysed more than 8,500 individual immune cells to see exactly which genes were switched on in each cell and identify specific molecular markers for each unique cell type. 

The team discovered there were at least twice as many types of immune cell than had previously been seen, and used the markers to find and quantify these cells in circulation, or on the gut and other parts of the mosquito. They were then able to follow how Anopheles mosquitoes and their immune cells reacted to infection with the Plasmodium parasite.

Dr Gianmarco Raddi, a first author on the paper from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said: “We have carried out the first ever large scale survey of the mosquito immune system, and using single cell sequencing technology we found immune cell types and cell states that had never been seen before. 

“We also looked at mosquitoes that were infected with the Plasmodium parasite and for the first time were able to study their immune response in molecular detail, and identify which cells and pathways were involved.”

A previous study from the NIH team had shown that a process called ‘immune priming’ could limit the ability of mosquitoes to transmit malaria, by activating the mosquito immune system to successfully fight the parasite. 

In this study, the researchers discovered that one of the newly discovered immune cell types had high levels of a key molecule needed for immune priming, and could be involved in that process.

Dr Oliver Billker, joint senior author on the paper previously from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and now based at Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden, Umeå University, said: “We discovered a rare but important new cell type we called a Megacyte, which could be involved in immune priming, and which appears to switch on further immune responses to the Plasmodium parasite.

“This is the first time a specific mosquito cell type has been implicated in regulating the control of malaria infection, and is a really exciting discovery. We now need to carry out further studies to validate this and better understand these cells and their role.”

The researchers showed that specific types of immune cell – granulocytes – increased in number in response to infection, and revealed that some of these could develop into other immune cells. 

They also discovered that immune cells in the mosquito’s gut and other tissues are actively recruited into the circulation to fight infections after lying dormant on the mosquito fat body.

Dr Sarah Teichmann, an author from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said: “The team has created the first mosquito immune cell atlas, to shed light on how mosquito immune systems fight infections. Mosquitos appear to have a sweet spot of immunity to parasites like malaria, with enough immunity to the infection that it doesn’t kill the mosquito but not enough to remove the parasite. 

“This atlas offers a vital resource for further research, which could reveal ways to modify the mosquito immune response to break the chain of disease transmission.”

• PHOTOGRAPH: Dr Sarah Teichmann, Wellcome Sanger Institute. Credit – Sebastian Nevols.

from Business Weekly https://ift.tt/2Qxlvc4

Publié dans #UK

#UK 3D Printing’s time has come – so IP protection is crucial


3D printing has enjoyed a lot of airtime during the coronavirus crisis. It is also rapidly developing, writes Alasdair Poore, head of Intellectual Property at law firm Mills & Reeve’s Cambridge office. 

These features make Intellectual Property highly relevant, both as a business opportunity and a potential risk.

While not a new phenomenon, 3D printing (or additive manufacturing) is increasingly being utilised as a key manufacturing tool and has been adopted into the manufacturing processes of a number of industries, most notably the automotive sector. 

Examples of its use stretch from parts for F1 racing cars and aeroplanes through to use in medicine and dentistry to consumer items including jewellery. 

Perhaps more engagingly, it has reached the wider public with toys and make-it kits for children and adults. 

During the coronavirus pandemic there has been an exceptional demand for PPE and 3D printing has stepped up to the mark. It has demonstrated its versatility in the face of an unprecedented crisis, being used to make parts for ventilators, face masks and other products. 

It has been used by major manufacturing companies and research organisations, and by individuals in private households.

3D printing is a broad term covering a very wide range of processes which have a common element – the addition of material in steps to build up an object with the desired overall shape (and structure).

There are many ways of achieving this. And it can be used at scales from microscopic to the size of buildings or bridges, as well as ordinary ‘human’ scale.

All of these approaches, however, have some common elements: they are versatile, can be prototyped quickly and lend themselves to product development – and that rapid product development lends itself to obtaining useful IP protection; the more so because where 3D printing provides real opportunities for the innovator, the same features facilitate copying the innovator. Hence the need to consider  IP protection at every stage of the 3D printing process.

Moreover, the technologies used in 3D printing are still, relatively, in their infancy. There are many opportunities to develop the technology further, and this provides a separate stream of potential innovation – in the processes themselves, in material used in those processes, and in the pre- and post-processing for the materials and products produced. 

As an illustration, over the 10 years to 2017 patent filings for additive manufacturing technology look to have grown exponentially. 3D printing technology is custom-made for IP opportunities. Here are a few reasons why:-

  • Fast prototyping enables a rapid development, testing and enhancement cycle and an opportunity to solve both known problems and ones you did not know you had when you started
  • The output itself – a 3 dimensional article – has features of shape and appearance: these provide a basis for protection as designs, even, in some cases if there is a substantial functional requirement
  • There is plenty of knowhow to be accumulated in designing a product for optimal production on an additive technology platform. Understanding how to layer the product, what is strong, weak, what is fracture prone. Other technologies such as injection moulding have become part of the engineering skill set – for 3D printing there is still a learning curve.

There are new ways of designing which would not have been possible in other technologies – or are very expensive.

Each of these give rise to potential for IP protection – for example, patents on innovative solutions in 3D printing processes including for new and powerful 3D printing tools; through to intellectual property rights which specifically address the shape or appearance of the articles created through a 3D printing process, such as rights in designs (and copyright in drawings and their electronic equivalent); to trade secrets, confidential information, know-how, and very difficult to protect experience and staff skills.

The key to getting the best out of the opportunity is to have (or to develop and implement) an intellectual property strategy. That is not just to protect anything that moves or run scared from any IP sighted in the distance – but to understand why, when, and how opportunities and risks in relation to intellectual property arise and can be managed in a commercial and proportionate way.

That and the core elements and impact of each of these intellectual property rights, their ownership (for example where third parties such as contractors are involved), and some of the challenges are for a future article.
In the meantime, here is a quick (and not very legal) summary of the most important technical intellectual property rights.

Patents protect inventions of a technical character – that is new products or processes which are inventive – not obvious to the engineer in the relevant field.

The invention must be ‘claimed’ in an application to national or regional patent offices. The application must usually be made before the invention is disclosed.

They are relatively costly to apply for and maintain, and there needs to be a reasonable proportionate commercial justification for seeking patent protection.  Professional advice is essential.

Design rights broadly protect the shape or appearance of an article. They can arise automatically (in which case they protect against copying); or registered (with national IP offices) in which case, if the design was a new one, making the same or similar design, whether or not it is copied, may infringe.

The requirements differ considerably between countries – for example, whether the design is purely functional, whether it is visible in use, and whether the shape is constrained by other factors may matter; and some countries, like the UK, have several different forms of design protection.  

Generally professional advice is desirable for registering a design, and may be helpful for optimising protection from unregistered designs or copyright in design works.

Confidential information is best protected either by keeping the information secret or by using written (confidentiality) agreements – and marking it appropriately.

The level of protection possible will depend on the type of information.  Information or know-how which forms part of the skills and expertise of employees will always be more difficult to protect – and if protection would be worth having, deserves specific attention.

Those can form the substrate for a simple two sentence strategy: Do assess what intellectual property rights you have, make it clear to others that you have rights, and watch what others are doing – with your innovations or what you might find useful; and consider expressly protecting your rights, policing them and enforcing them when appropriate. 

A stitch in time saves nine – even in the age of 3D printing.



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Publié dans #UK

#UK Elsevier ‘Bites’ into bleeding edge Cambridge science and technology


SciBite, a semantic AI company headquartered in Cambridge UK, has been acquired for an undisclosed sum by global research publishing and information analytics provider Elsevier.

A recent Queen’s Award winner, SciBite is based in the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute Morgan Building and provides an enterprise-ready semantic software infrastructure to standardise and transform scientific information silos into clean, interoperable data. 

Globally influential, the technology business supports the top 20 pharma companies with use cases across life sciences.

Elsevier, part of UK power player RELX, has acquired the Cambridge innovator to help customers make faster, more effective R & D decisions through advanced text and data intelligence solutions.

SciBite’s solutions identify and extract scientific insights from both structured and unstructured text and content, to identify key concepts such as drugs, proteins, companies, targets, and outcomes. 

This semantically-enriched, machine-readable data, helps SciBite’s customers around the world make streamlined, more efficient decisions. SciBite was founded in 2011 by Dr Lee Harland, who currently serves as chief scientific officer. 

SciBite’s major products include: TERMite, an AI and ontology driven text analysis engine; DOCstore, which transforms search through semantic indexing; and CENtree, a next-generation collaborative ontology management platform; they are complemented by a suite of apps that support its core technology and allow customers to automate data-curation and manage terminology standards.

Dr Harland said: “I am incredibly proud of everyone at SciBite; we believe that our continued investment in innovative technology enables our customers to address the huge challenges they face in creating, connecting and analysing disparate content and data. 

“Our track record in driving new insights and efficiencies within drug discovery and the wider life sciences is something we will continue to build upon in this next phase of our journey.”

Rob Greenwood, CEO and President of SciBite, added: “This is an exciting next step for our business. The combined offering of Elsevier’s high-quality content and data and the innovative technology from SciBite will deliver amazing value for any data led strategy across the scientific community. 

“As part of the Elsevier organisation, SciBite will have the ability to deliver enterprise technology, and new advances in scientific insight and discovery across its broad reaching global customer base.”

Elsevier helps researchers and healthcare professionals advance science and improve health outcomes for the benefit of society. To support this, Elsevier’s Life Sciences Solutions division is transforming from a provider of reference solutions into a creator of data and information analytics capable of supporting multiple scientific domain-specific use cases, ranging from search and discovery through to machine learning and AI.

SciBite’s proven and award-winning solutions will enable Elsevier to develop its Life Sciences Solutions services, such as: Reaxys, which powers chemistry research and development; Embase, the world’s most comprehensive international database of biomedical information; and Entellect, its FAIR data compliant platform that integrates, stores, and enriches client data with Elsevier and third-party content into a common analytical environment.

Cameron Ross, managing director Life Sciences Solutions at Elsevier, said: “The life sciences and corporate R & D communities face complex challenges, with an ever-expanding sea of data and content to extract knowledge from.

“We aim to combine Elsevier’s expertise and content from existing products, with SciBite’s impressive capabilities and suite of ontology-led products, to support more customers around the world make data led decisions in the drug development process.”

Leading life science and technology law firm Taylor Wessing advised on the acquisition; its team included Ross McNaughton, Adrian Toutoungi and Charlie Adams – all based in Cambridge.

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#UK Sorex raises £900k and boosts top team to hit $323bn sensors market


Cambridge University spin-out Sorex Sensors has raised £900,000 to fund further development of its novel sensor technology and target a global market tipped to be worth $323 billion inside four years.

The business has also made key changes of the very pinnacle of management to steer the bid for global dominance.

Investors in the latest round include the university’s commercialisation arm Cambridge Enterprise, which matched funds raised by a set of Cambridge- and London-based investors including the Cambridge Angels, SyndicateRoom and Camvision.

In a parallel move, Sorex reveals that co-founder and former chief technology officer Dr Mario de Miguel Ramos has been appointed CEO – replacing Michael LeGoff, who has taken on the role of executive chairman. Professor Andrew Flewitt, head of electrical engineering at the University of Cambridge and also a co-founder of Sorex, has transitioned from chairman  to chief scientific officer.

The global market for sensors – valued at $153.3 billion in 2018 – is expected to increase to $323.3 billion by 2024. Sorex launched its first product based on its breakthrough film bulk acoustic resonator (FBAR) sensor technology last year. 

It consists of a particulate sensor along with an accompanying development kit – and is designed for use in devices for monitoring indoor air quality.

Professor Flewitt said: “The team has done a fantastic job so far and Mario will continue to work closely with Michael as we ramp up production and bring new products to market. 

“Our next step will be to release an array of sensors and we are on track with that. We are currently working on ‘functionalising’ the sensors to detect specific gases and plan to have a proof of concept ready later this year.”

The company’s initial focus is on improving the monitoring of indoor air quality. Poor indoor air quality has been linked to a range of illnesses – particularly lung diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. 

Indoor air can be affected by many factors, including chemicals used to clean or decorate, fuels used for heating and cooking, building and furnishing materials, and tobacco smoke. This can lead to harmful levels of substances like carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds such as formaldehyde.

The FBAR sensor developed by Sorex is extremely small, measuring less than 0.5 square millimetres. It uses microwatts for power and can detect changes in mass down to femtograms – the weight of a single virus. That makes it the most accurate and cost-effective sensor available.

Dr de Miguel Ramos said: “I am delighted to be leading our world-class team as we embark on this exciting new stage of our journey. Our initial focus is the monitoring of air quality – with our sensors acting as your eyes, ears and nose to detect any dangerous build-up of compounds before they reach harmful levels. But our innovative sensor technology has the potential to transform a whole range of industries.”

Elaine Loukes, an investment director in the seed funds team at Cambridge Enterprise, said she was delighted at the progress the team had made over the past two years. 

She said: “Improving indoor air quality is recognised as a matter of urgent importance and I believe the Sorex technology will offer a step change in the ability to detect and measure harmful compounds, leading to healthier environments at home and in the workplace.”

• Sorex Sensors manufactures high-sensitivity MEMS mass sensors to transform industrial and consumer products. The University of Cambridge spin-out is based in the Maxwell Centre at the university’s West Cambridge site. It also has research teams at the Technical University of Madrid and the University of Warwick in the UK. 

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#UK Tax-advantaged investment schemes


Successive governments have recognised business funding reliefs as a valuable means of encouraging investment into technology companies, writes James Francis, partner at Ensors Chartered Accountants

The UK provides three such tax-advantaged schemes; the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) and the Venture Capital Trusts (VCT) regime. 

EIS enables individuals to invest in small and medium-sized companies in return for generous tax reliefs, while SEIS provides relief for smaller investments.  

EIS’s headline incentives are the ability to invest up to £1 million (per tax year) in shares issued by a qualifying company in return for a 30 per cent non-repayable Income Tax credit and a potential exemption from Capital Gains Tax (CGT) when the shares are sold; in both cases the EIS shares must be held for at least three years. 

There is further Income Tax relief for investment losses if the company fails. It is also possible for investors to defer CGT on the disposals of other assets by reinvesting proceeds into qualifying EIS shares.

While changes introduced from 2015 have limited the scope of EIS for many investments, more recent changes have made EIS more generous for knowledge-intensive companies in terms of how much a qualifying company can raise, the period over which it can first raise EIS investment and how much the individual can invest. 

This applies to companies that carry out a high level of innovation creating IP they intend to exploit or where at least 20 per cent of the workforce is “skilled”.

SEIS is specifically aimed at smaller companies which have only recently begun to carry on a qualifying trade.

SEIS investors can claim Income Tax relief equal to 50 per cent of their subscription for qualifying shares of up to £100,000. Gains from selling qualifying SEIS shares are exempt from CGT provided the investor has held the shares for three years. 

CGT reinvestment relief also exists so that where an individual realises a capital gain and reinvests all the proceeds in SEIS shares, half of the gain will be tax exempt.  

If the shares are sold within three years of issue, all SEIS reliefs are clawed back. A company cannot issue SEIS qualifying shares if it has already issued EIS shares or received investment from a VCT.

EIS and SEIS shares will normally qualify for Inheritance Tax business property relief after two years’ ownership.

A VCT is an investment company with shares listed on a European regulated market. It is required to invest in and maintain a portfolio of qualifying trading companies with a permanent establishment in the UK. 

The investment differs from EIS/SEIS in that the investor buys into the investment vehicle as opposed to the investee company. VCT is therefore a more passive investment, albeit one that dilutes the risk of investment in specific companies.

The investor can claim income Tax relief at 30 per cent on the investment made into the VCT, limited to a maximum investment of £200,000 per tax year. 

This relief is clawed back if the VCT shares are sold within five years of the date of issue. Dividends paid by the VCT on qualifying investments are not taxable and gains made on the disposal of VCT shares are exempt from CGT, with no minimum holding period. The flipside is that losses incurred on a sale of VCT shares are never allowable for capital gains tax purposes.

A sunset clause for EIS and VCT (but not SEIS) income tax relief has been introduced. This ensures that income tax relief will no longer be given to subscriptions made on or after 6 April 2025, unless the legislation is renewed by Treasury Order.

Please be aware this is a very high-level summary of EIS, SEIS and VCT; all are subject to various complex requirements. Professional advice both at the time of investment and going forward is essential to ensure that reliefs are obtained and not subsequently clawed back.


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