The Engagement and Enterprise Awards 2015 Academic Enterprise category sought to recognise entrepreneurial members of staff that have used their passion, ingenuity and commitment to create successful spin-outs.
Academic Commercial Enterprise
For the QMUL spin-out company or commercial agreement with an industrial partner that has generated the most revenues and/or reached a significant commercial milestone, leading to an increase the value of the opportunity.
Winner: LANDR, Dr Josh Reiss
LANDR, spun out from QMUL in 2012, develops software tools that automate the manipulation and editing of audio in much the same way as a professional mixing engineer. Their lead product provides an automatic mastering service to amateur musicians.
In year, their users have increased to 250k, with 1.2m tracks mastered and generating revenues of >$1.4m. They currently have over 70 partnerships with leading music-related companies and raised $6.2m giving LANDR a current valuation of >$10m.
Highly Commended: Stealthyx Therapeutics Ltd, Professor Yuti Chernajovsky
Spun-out from QMUL in 2002, Stealthyx has developed a drug delivery system capable of extending the half-life of drugs and ensuring their delivery only to sites of disease. Proof of principle has been demonstrated in models of several autoimmune diseases, inflammation and cancer. In-year, Stealthyx received £2M investment from Index Ventures enabling clinical trials with a number of therapeutic drugs to begin by 2017.
Highly Commended: Actual Experience PLC, Professor Jonathan Pitts
Actual Experience, spun-out from QMUL in 2009 and AIM listed in 2014, is revolutionizing the way digital quality is managed by businesses. It’s unique analytics approach enables companies to improve their networked operations providing efficiencies and greater customer satisfaction.
In year Actual Experience raised £16 million to fund further expansion including establishing a US subsidiary. It also secured a three year contract to supply services to a major global organisation and won the coveted Red Herring Top 100 Global award. The Company's market capitalisation is approximately £97 million, representing an in-year increase of 38% in value.
Academic Non-Commercial Enterprise
For the non-commercial enterprise activity with the most significant end-user engagement, for example open-source software, social enterprises or cultural/creative products or services.
Winner: People’s Palace Project, Professor Paul Heritage
People’s Palace Projects is recognised as a flagship public engagement project at QMUL, receiving core support from Arts Council England. For the past five years its income has ranged from £500k to £1m with most of its income generated through research grants, British Council funding, Trust and Foundation grants and consultancy.
Significant projects run in-year include: “With One Voice”, a Brazil arts and homelessness exchange; “The Becontree Hundred, 100 new portraits of Dagenham”, a photography workshops for local people; and “The Encounter”, research trips by Complicite’s Simon McBurney to Xingú Territory.
Highly Commended: QMUL Virtual Lab, Dr Tina Chowdhury
The QMUL virtual lab is a software tool that models teaching and research labs for multiple disciplines in engineering and the life sciences. Techniques are taught in the virtual lab using 3D interactive games technology to enable the student to practice methods multiple times and learn from mistakes, without incurring additional costs. In year, the QMUL Virtual Lab was shortlisted for a Times Higher Education award.
In addition, a licensing arrangement was established with partners Solvexx Solutions and the software was purchased by the Technical University of Eindhoven. It also won an Innovate UK Learning Technologies grant.
Proof of Concept Project
This award is for the proof of concept project which has achieved one or a number of milestones that could lead to a significant commercial or non-commercial enterprise in the future.
Joint Winner: Novel Diagnostics/Therapeutics for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Dr Johan Aarum, Dr Andrea Malaspina and Professor Denise Sheer
Protein aggregation is a critical factor in several disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Dr Aarum and his colleagues have shown that these aggregated proteins are kept in a soluble state by association with Molecule X. Thus, loss of protein-X interaction leads to protein aggregation. In-year crucial proof of principle data has been generated showing that synthetic versions of Molecule X maintain protein solubility. Also a small molecule candidate has been discovered which can prevent protein aggregation that could be developed in the future as a potential drug candidate.
Joint Winner: eSexual Health Clinic is now open, eSTI2 Consortium, Clinical & Public Health Workstream (Professor Claudia Estcourt)
Professor Claudia Estcourt’s group has demonstrated proof of concept for a highly innovative online clinical care pathway, which enables a person who has tested for chlamydia to get their test results and all their treatment and care online by following an automated online clinical consultation, leading to collection of antibiotics from a community pharmacy.
The software tool has been used in a study of over 300 people with chlamydia, resulting in 72% receiving treatment within one day of getting their results; with 93% rating their care as good to excellent and 86% say they would recommend the tool to a friend.
Highly Commended: Syndecan-2 as a therapeutic in the treatment of cancer, Dr James Whiteford and Giulia De Rossi
New blood vessel formation (angiogenesis) is a feature of cancer and diseases of the eye such as Wet Age Related Macular Degeneration. Dr Whiteford’s group has identified that the extracellular portion of the adhesion molecule syndecan-2 is potently anti-angiogenic, addressing the shortcomings of competitor therapies. In the last year an 18 amino acid peptide which has anti-blood vessel formation properties has been developed which demonstrates around 30% improvement of symptoms in mice.
The Dickinson Award for Academic Entrepreneur of the Year
This award is for the individual who has demonstrated the most entrepreneurial activity or activities.
Winner: Dr Andrew McPherson
Andrew's TouchKeys is a new musical instrument technology transforming the piano-style digital keyboard into an expressive multi-touch control surface using capacitive sensing. In summer 2013, Andrew ran a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to produce and distribute instruments, raising £46k.
In year Andrew has coordinated a second production run raising over £40k in orders, handling publicity and invoicing, manufacturing from several suppliers and building and shipping the final kits. TouchKeys Instruments Ltd has also been spun-out with Andrew in a leading executive role and currently in promising discussions with major licensees and investors.
Highly Commended: Professor Yuti Chernajovsky
Yuti and his team have generated a drug delivery system capable of extending the half-life of drugs and ensuring their delivery only to sites of disease. Thirteen years ago, a spin-out company Steathyx, was spun-out of QMUL to commercialise this technology. Yuti has managed to continue development over the years in a very difficult investment climate for biotechnology with grants from the MRC, Wellcome Trust, EU and other sources to provide proof of principle in models of several autoimmune diseases, inflammation and cancer.
This year Yuti played a vital role in securing £2M investment from Index Ventures to enable the Steathyx technology to enter clinical trials.