CPI: From Concept To Commercialisation – Supporting SMEs
Above: The Centre for Process Innovation is helping businesses by providing technical expertise coupled with development and scale-up facilities
The Industrial Strategy green paper revealed that, of 18 major countries, the UK is ranked third for the number of start-ups, yet it is placed at 13th for the number of these businesses that successfully scale up. These low success rates can be attributed to many obstacles along the road from concept to market, such as lack of innovation guidance or investment, that cause businesses to fail before passing early development stages.
2017 work – A range of enterprises
Nuformix, a pharmaceutical development company, is using cocrystal technology to unlock the potential of small molecule drugs. This includes a treatment to manage severe chemotherapy side effects faced by cancer patients, and repurposing an allergy drug to treat fibrosis. Nuformix was recently floated on the London Stock Exchange.
SeaGas is a collaborative project that is farming sugar kelp seaweed for sustainable energy production. After producing and harvesting the largest ever batch of farmed seaweed from UK shores, project partners are now testing whether this is viable on a commercial scale. Another company working on sustainable alternatives is California-based Calysta, which is working with CPI to develop a production process for a new fish feed created by converting low-cost methane gas. The product is designed to meet the growing demand for increased sources of protein without competing with the human food chain.
CPI’s three National Innovation Centres cover printable electronics, biopharmaceuticals, and biologics and biorefining and are inspiring many SMEs to relocate their R&D efforts to the North East. This includes Cambridge headquartered PragmatIC, which is conducting product development in ultralow-cost flexible electronics. The potential of the technology was recognised earlier this year with the presentation of the 2017 Future Planet Award for businesses that will make a substantive impact on major global challenges.
The first of two brand new national innovation assets currently under construction and scheduled to open during 2018 is the National Formulation Centre, based at NETPark in County Durham. It will specialise in developing products such as pharmaceuticals, paints, and food, amongst others. December 2018 will see the completion of CPI’s National Centre for Healthcare Photonics. it will focus on using light to deliver convenient medical diagnosis and treatment and will position the North East as a worldwide hub for photonics healthcare technologies.
These two new centres are expected to attract more SMEs to the North-East in order to bring innovations successfully to market and to CPI’s capability in delivering substantial returns to both innovators and society across the UK. Thanks to CPI’s work the gap between process innovation and commercialisation is now closing and, ultimately, growth for the UK economy is being generated.