For the second year in a row, Orla Weir, our Multichannel Strategy Director, participated in the Innovation to Commercialisation of University Research (ICURe) Options Roundabout Panel. Early Career Researchers (ECRs), funded by Innovate UK, presented the results of a 3-month-long programme to articulate their business propositions and validate them based on 100 relevant conversations globally.

The ICURe Options Roundabout Panel comprises subject matter experts, investors and specialists in the commercialisation of products or services. They provide feedback on the viability and potential routes for the business. Options include recommendations for further research, a licencing deal, a private spin-out, or a spin-out funded by Innovate UK.

This year’s ICURe Options Roundabout Panel listened to business ideas aimed at early disease detection and prevention. Further funding from Innovate UK was awarded to researchers from the University of Birmingham and their next-generation epigenome sequencing technology, which could allow fast and reliable detection of novel disease markers, particularly cancers. Also, additional funding was granted to the team from Sheffield Hallam that has worked on a portable bone mineral density assessment system, which has huge potential in orthopaedics.

ECRs from Oxford Brookes presented a non-invasive test for epithelial cancer spread that could revolutionise cancer diagnostics, and the team from Aston University discovered a method that solves an age-old biotechnological problem of membrane protein production, which could significantly accelerate the process of new drug discovery, and they also received funding.

The Panel also heard presentations on space technology (Sheffield Hallam), wearable clinical technology (Anglia Ruskin) and novel effervescent product formulations (Bradford).

I thoroughly enjoyed the enthusiasm and professionalism of the ECRs. There were some exciting new technologies with the potential to improve lives, and I look forward to seeing how they progress.

The Midlands iCure programme is sponsored by Innovate UK and lead by the University of Warwick.

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