Over 100 academics, clinicians, business people and public sector representatives came together at an event organised in collaboration with Discovery Park last week, to celebrate the transformation of bright ideas into global opportunities.
The Collaborative Innovation Showcase, which took place at Discovery Park on 11 January, showcased the outcomes of projects funded by two of UKRI-funded Kent’s Impact Acceleration Accounts (IAAs). It featured an exhibition of over 20 research posters and four Discovery Park businesses – Agenda Lifesciences, DLOC Biosystems, InCryst and York Biosciences – were given the opportunity to present their ideas to both academic and clinical researchers in a pitch event introduced by Renos Savva, Head of Innovation at Discovery Park.
The showcase marked 18 months since Kent was awarded £850k from UKRI’s Impact Acceleration Account scheme, making Kent one of 50 Universities to receive IAA funding. The funding is split across three accounts and can be used to flexibly support a wide range of translational research projects which speed up the transition of research from early discovery to its application in society.
The Medical Research Council (MRC) and Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC) IAAs have already funded several flagship projects which were showcased by Kent academics at the event:
- Professor Jennifer Hiscock discussed her collaboration with Waters to accelerate the development of a biomaterial that can stop supersonic impacts.
- Professor Dan Mulvihill talked about his partnership with Fujifilm to develop technology that enables bacteria used in the biotechnology industry to secrete proteins of interest more efficiently.
- Dr David Beal shared the outcomes of his collaboration with Concept Life Sciences to develop targeted antifungal agents.
- Professor Campbell Gourlay talked about his work with East Kent Hospitals Trust and ICU Medical to prevent biofilm accumulation in gastrostomy tubes.
At the event, MRC IAA lead Professor Michelle Garrett and BBSRC IAA lead Professor Tobias von der Haar provided attendees with an update on the funding opportunities offered by the accounts, including the support available for translational research projects, stakeholder engagement and training.
Professor Michelle Garrett said, ‘We’re delighted to have been able to collaborate with Discovery Park to highlight the opportunity associated with our Impact Acceleration Accounts amongst the local business community. Providing funding for collaborative innovation is one thing, but it is events like this which accelerate innovation by providing a space for us to identify industry challenges and opportunities, and the research outcomes which can help us respond to them.’
‘Funding applications for the MRC and BBSRC accounts aren’t just open to academics from a STEM background. We particularly encourage those from a social science and humanities background to find out more about them, as there’s always the potential that your research and ideas could be just what we’re looking for.’
Renos Savva, Head of Innovation at Discovery Park, is pleased to have been involved with setting up a group across the two organisations to scout opportunities for commercialisation of IAA research and said, ‘This event brought together innovative thinkers from companies at Discovery Park and academics and clinicians, promoting discussion on translational research topics ripe for commercialisation. We’re very pleased to have hosted it.’