Businesses win use of lab to develop medical technologies

Three start-up companies have been awarded free access to the research facilities and expertise at STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory that will enable them to create new products in the energy and medical fields.

PV Glaze, Bisn and Chris Underwood are all winners in a challenge run by STFC’s Futures team, which seeks to exploit scientific research to find solutions to the government’s grand challenges in energy, environment, healthcare and security.

The I-TAC Futures Challenge was aimed directly at any UK company involved in research and development within the global grand challenge areas. Each winner has received six-months free access to their own dedicated, fully equipped laboratory at Daresbury’s Innovations Technology Access Centre (I-TAC).

I-TAC manager Dr Martin Morlidge said: ‘When choosing the winners, we were specifically looking for how well their businesses and ideas fit in with STFC’s core challenges in environment, energy and healthcare, and also how STFC can add real value to these companies.’

Bisn is a newly formed technical service company serving the oil and gas industry. At I-TAC Bisn will be carrying out a study on enhanced oil recovery with a view to enabling better access to oil reserves that have previously been abandoned and facilitating the extraction of oil from them.

For its part, PV Glaze is developing a renewable energy technology using silicon-based cells that can convert solar radiation into electricity. Normally opaque due to the nature of their materials, these transparent, high-clarity solar modules, known as Building Integrated Photo-Voltaics, will enable such renewable energy technologies to be better incorporated into the construction of buildings, motor vehicles and agricultural greenhouses.

Lastly, Dr Chris Underwood is working on a novel design for a vascular-access graft, a type of artificial blood vessel that is implanted in the arms of people who require lifesaving dialysis. Incorporating a new type of biomaterial, the product is intended to prevent some of the common complications currently associated with this procedure and the materials technology being used has the potential to lead to improved product designs for other cardiovascular applications as well, such as bypass grafting in the legs or around the heart.

Access to I-TAC will enable Dr Underwood to make the prototypes to prove his design concept and go on to develop other related products, including some for use in the emerging field of tissue engineering.