Sussex Innovation supports start-ups and scale-ups with their growth ambitions, but it’s more than simply a business incubator. As a wholly-owned subsidiary of the University of Sussex, it specialises in making connections between academia and business, to the benefit of both.
There are many ways in which engaging with the academic community can have direct commercial benefits. Businesses seeking research consultancy can access a wide range of world-leading expertise through a close working relationship with the University’s Innovation, Business and Partnership Team. Sussex Innovation also offers an ideal location to host joint ventures, acting as a catalyst for transforming research into disruptive products.
“With one of our sites located on campus, we provide an opportunity for SMEs to develop and grow in close proximity to researchers,” says Peter Lane who, as Innovation Support Manager, oversees many of these research collaborations. “The benefits of this are huge. It enables business and academic staff to build much closer teams, accelerating progress, sharing relationships and leveraging the University’s world-class lab and technology facilities.”
As several recent news stories have demonstrated, these close working relationships can both yield great commercial results and enable researchers to have a hugely significant impact on the wider world:
Enterprise Therapeutics develop novel therapies for respiratory disease
Last month, the multinational healthcare company Roche acquired a programme for the treatment of cystic fibrosis and other respiratory diseases, developed by biopharmaceutical company and Sussex Innovation tenants, Enterprise Therapeutics.
Enterprise is dedicated to the discovery and development of novel therapies to improve the lives of patients suffering with respiratory disease. The company was co-founded by Professor Martin Gosling, a Professor of Molecular Pharmacology at the University of Sussex, who is also its Chief Scientific Officer. It benefits from a close working relationship with the University’s School of Life Sciences; Henry Danahay, the Head of Biology at Enterprise also holds an honorary position in the Sussex Drug Discovery Centre, which sits within the academic school.
The research team’s novel TMEM16A potentiator portfolio – a range of compounds shown to address the underlying mechanisms of mucus congestion, and thereby restoring lung function - was fully acquired by Roche and will be developed by Genentech, a member of the Roche Group. Enterprise Therapeutics’ shareholders received an upfront payment of £75 million, and are eligible to receive additional contingent payments, to be made based on the achievement of certain predetermined milestones.
CDO2 and Sussex Programme for Quantum Research contribute to UK’s first ‘Gigafactory’ for electric vehicle batteries
Breakthrough research on electric vehicle battery sensors has seen a collaboration between Sussex quantum scientists and commercial partners CDO2 attract a £1.1m share of a £5.4m government grant for a consortium advancing the UK’s EV manufacturing capabilities.
Together the partnership will build quantum sensors to test battery health, streamlining development and manufacturing. Currently, EV battery cells must be left to develop at warm temperatures on the factory floor before being ready for use. With the new sensor technology, batteries can be tested for their readiness in real-time, potentially speeding the production process from weeks to days, increasing production capacity, saving factory space and reducing energy consumption.
Ultimately, the three-year project will see a pilot production facility established in Thurso in Scotland, before a new ‘Gigafactory’ - the first of its kind in the UK - is built to make the batteries. The research arm of the Sussex partnership will share office space at Sussex Innovation with commercial colleagues from CDO2 for the duration of the project.
One Research and Brighton and Sussex Medical School partner on COVID-19 study
One Research and the Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) have recently and successfully partnered to help deliver vital COVID-19 research examining inflammatory responses in patients who have recently recovered from the disease.
One Research, a patient recruitment and communications agency who have been based at Sussex Innovation for several years, were introduced to Professor Florian Kern (Chair of Immunology) at BSMS after the academic commercialisation team recognised the potential for collaboration.
Having established this link, within days of the national lockdown in March 2020, Professor Kern looked to One Research to provide its expertise and support recruitment for volunteers in the Brighton and Hove area. The successful launch and subsequent completion of this recruitment programme has enabled BSMS to support ongoing studies and future research programmes.
Interested in exploring an academic collaboration for your business?
Contact Peter Lane: firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your situation and needs.
Or contact email@example.com to find out more about
other opportunities for collaboration with the University.
Sussex Innovation also provides access to SME Academic Grants in partnership with the European Regional Development Fund, which could cover 40% of your direct costs for commercialising intellectual property arising from academic research. Visit info.sinc.co.uk/sme-academic-grant-funding for more information.