An independent report has recently concluded that 'The BioHub can be regarded as the right approach, in the right location at the right time.'
The report, by well respected firm ERS Ltd; specialists in Research and Consultancy, covers many aspects of The Biomedical Innovation Hub (The BioHub) project, including strategy, delivery and impact . The project, which was delivered by the University of Birmingham with project partners Alta Innovations and Birmingham Research Park Ltd, was funded by the University of Birmingham, Birmingham City Council and ERDF.
The Vice Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, Professor Sir David Eastwood, welcomed the report as a very encouraging and supportive review, saying “The BioHub makes a significant contribution to the growth of the life sciences sector in Birmingham and is a major asset for the outstanding medical cluster here in Edgbaston, and the wider City region.”
A number of recommendations were made with the purpose of continuing the impetus that that has been achieved so far, and in particular to maintain engagement with all stakeholders.
ERS conclude that 'The BioHub has provided a bridge between university laboratory space and businesses own, standalone premises, at a reasonable rent. This enables increased cash flow, therefore supporting the growth of new companies. In addition The BioHub has raised the profile of the life sciences sector in Birmingham, in that it provides a tangible space that can be seen and touched, adding a reality to the range of strategies and plans for the sector currently under development.'Download here
A team of PhD students from the University of Birmingham, have won the prize for ‘Best IP strategy’ at the finals of a national business start-up competition, sponsored by Potter Clarkson LLP, worth £500. The Biotechnology YES (Biotechnology Young Entrepreneurs Scheme) aims to find the entrepreneurial scientists of the future.
The postulated company Algagen fended off stiff competition from other teams at the 2015 UK finals, to win the prize for their best consideration of IP.
The prize was awarded for the team’s investment pitch for Algamix, an algae-based swine feed supplement engineered to express antibodies targeting the leading causes of swine mortality. Algamix significantly reduces pig mortality and enhances farm productivity whilst simultaneously permitting elimination of prophylactic antibiotics which are contributing to a global crisis in antibiotic resistance.
Niall Gilding, Managing Director of Algagen commented “We are thrilled to win a prize – the standard of the competition was extremely high and this success is a recognition of all the hard work the team put in”.
“We are extremely grateful to several people at the University of Birmingham - particularly at Alta Innovations and The BioHub on Birmingham Research Park – for so generously donating their time and advice whilst we shaped our business plan”.
Biotechnology YES is an annual business plan competition designed to raise awareness of science commercialisation amongst junior researchers. Organised by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and The University of Nottingham, Biotechnology YES is now in its 20th year and attracts significant support from industrial partners including GSK, Unilever and Syngenta.
- 19,153 scheduled one-to-one meetings
- 4,358 licensing opportunities were posted
- 3,520 delegates
- 1,886 companies
- 162 company presentations
- 97 exhibitors
- 55 countries
BIO-Europe, Europe's largest partnering conference serving the global biotechnology industry, took place in Munich, Germany between 2nd – 4th November. Our stand was on the UK BioPartner pavilion which showcased many UK biotech SMEs and provided a lively base for all UK delegates. It provided an excellent platform at which to promote The BioHub Birmingham® and meet with delegates from around the globe.
In addition to productive partnering meetings, BIO-Europe offered high level workshops, panels, company presentations, and a lively exhibition. The program offered executive level panellists who openly shared their insight and opinion on many important industry issues. The company presentation sessions provided a forum for innovative start-ups, established biotech companies, and large and midsize pharma to present information on products, partnering opportunities and corporate strategy. Over 150 biotech, midsize pharma, next generation and academic-phase companies presented.
Our joint participation with the BioPartner UK Delegation enabled some high quality interaction between UK companies in our sector and a great relationship building environment. The Scottish whisky tasting proved particularly popular with all conference attendees! Networking events gave us a chance to see some of the popular cultural venues in the centre of the city, such as the Munich Residenz and Löwenbräukeller.
We attended the Council for European BioRegions (CEBR) workshop which included presentations on biocluster experience and ambitions from around the world, by new, as well as established clusters. International bioclusters were very well represented in the Exhibition area too and made for an interesting browsing experience, with a ‘guess the weight’ competition of a chocolate model of Cologne Cathedral, Japanese origami models and our own brain-shaped stress balls proving very popular!
All in all it was a very busy and productive few days for us!
BIO-Europe 2016 will be in Cologne, Germany on 7-9th November, further information will be posted shortly on the BioEurope website.
Dr Matt Hicks and Professor Tim Dafforn feature in an episode of the programme series 'Stephen Hawking's Science Of The Future'. This particular episode showcases five 'game changing innovations' inspired by nature. Linear Diagnostics' reader to detect deadly e-coli bacteria is one of these innovations, which can be viewed at 25min 30secs. In the programme Professor Hawking explains that "nature's most ingenious solutions are inspiring ground-breaking innovations".
Professor Dafforn describes the technology behind their device and how they have re-engineered a completely inert virus and added an antibody to it, which then becomes a virus which hunts down bacteria. When the virus hits bacteria it binds around it so you can tell there is a pathogen there. Dr Hicks then goes on to demonstrate this with the device, testing if deadly bacteria is present in seconds. The exciting prospect for the reader is that it can be downsized to a hand-held device and developed for different types of bacteria, diagnosing deadly viruses in seconds and in the future could be used in hospitals, surgeries and out in the field. Find out more information on Linear Diagnostics Ltd.
Gisela Stuart, MP for Birmingham, Edgbaston, since 1997, recently visited The BioHub and BizzInn to learn more about our fully serviced laboratory and business support services. Ms Stuart has taken a keen interest in the development of Birmingham Research Park over the years and has visited several times previously. On this occasion Dr James Wilkie, Director of Research and Innovation services at the University of Birmingham and Helen Miller-Viney, Business Development Manager at The BioHub, accompanied Gisela on the tour and introduced her to Dr Matt Hicks, Chief Technology Officer of Linear Diagnostics Ltd, who have bench space in The BioHub, and BizzInn tenants RealTag, who are developing anti-counterfeiting technology via smartphone platforms.
Abingdon Health Ltd, the specialist rapid diagnostic technology company, is pleased to announce it has won the Best UK Medtech Dealmaker at the OBN Annual Awards held on Thursday 1st October, at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. The Awards, which are in their 7th year, celebrate outstanding achievement in the UK life sciences sector.
The award, received by CEO Chris Yates, recognises the company’s successful acquisition of the optical detection company Molecular Vision Ltd, as part of its strategy to become a leading technology based diagnostic company.
Abingdon Health is focused on providing rapid and near-patient medical diagnostic testing solutions. The company is developing a multiplexed immunoassay system based on fully disposable medical diagnostics for the rapid testing market. The device uses organic light emitting diodes (OLEDS) and organic photodetectors (OPDs) for versatile and quantitative optical detection in a portable and disposable format.
Chris Yates, Chief Executive of Abingdon Health, commented: “We are delighted to receive this award in recognition of our acquisition of Molecular Vision. The Molecular Vision technology provides Abingdon Health with a great opportunity to build a next generation rapid testing platform that offers portable, connected, cost effective and multiplexed immunoassay testing”.
- Linear Diagnostics Ltd was formed in March 2011
- Grown rapidly to a team of 10
- The company was spun out of research at the University of Birmingham to commercialise a rapid diagnostic platform technology
Who With 150 research papers to their names – Dr Matt Hicks and Professor Tim Dafforn founded Linear Diagnostics Ltd (LDL). Their experience includes research into biophysical spectroscopy, DNA-drug interactions, fibrous protein structure, peptide-lipid interactions and synthetic biology. Prof Dafforn has recently been appointed to the prestigious role of Chief Scientific Advisor for the UK Government department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS).
Moving into The BioHub Initial development on LDL’s fast, simple-to-use and economical diagnostic devices started at the University of Birmingham, but as the work became more commercially orientated - leaning towards medical development rather than research - the team needed somewhere with more biological equipment. After looking far and wide they found The BioHub, the perfect facility right on their doorstep.
So what’s the verdict? Dr Matt Hicks says:“For us, the benefits of establishing a base at The BioHub have been numerous. The shared facilities make access to high-spec, specialist and larger equipment affordable – and with the meeting rooms and office space all under one roof, it’s a great set-up. There’s peace of mind having the facility managed, which means there’s less worry about maintenance. With the University and QE hospital so close on our door step, we have access to world-class experts, as well as opportunities for ideas sharing and co-development work with PhD secondments. It’s ideal for access to patients and samples - for getting our products tested by medical professionals too – and the insight into how they’ll actually work in the processes of a realistic clinical environment. There’s an exciting atmosphere working with other bio-medical businesses at The BioHub, and the location is fantastic, which is important for us both in terms of collaborations and visitors.”
The future? “As we go forwards we will need space for more employees and it’s this flexibility that has attracted us to The BioHub at this stage, particularly with the additional grow-on space available on the first floor. Our ambitions for the future are such that we will outgrow this facility, and we are sure that as we move on, there will be no shortage of enterprises that will benefit from The BioHub in the future.”
With a long string of investment in the city thanks to Library of Birmingham, the Bullring and now the multi-million pound Grand Central destination, Dr James Wilkie, Director of Research and Innovation services at the University of Birmingham, talks about how the focus shouldn't be all on the shops and retail therapy bringing in the punters and giving Birmingham its great name, as there’s a new kid on the block…
Big shopping brands and new city centre developments will always take centre stage, it’s just the nature of how they function – they’re public facing and very much in the public mind. But I’d just like to remind everyone that as the birthplace of the industrial revolution, Birmingham has another heartbeat - just as important in bringing investment and prestige to the city - but rarely promoted to the same degree… scientific innovation. Let’s not forget this significant heritage, which still drives a large part of the city’s economy today - I’m sure few would know that the city has over 300 medical businesses based in Edgbaston alone.
Rightly famous for its cricket, Edgbaston also has more medics per square mile than anywhere else in the UK. This is because anyone developing a medical business wants to be near the QEII University super hospital and the fantastic research and clinical trials units of the University of Birmingham. Building up quietly for the past forty years, Edgbaston is now one of the best places for this kind of business in the UK. It also offers a great quality of life.
It’s this progress behind the scenes that is really exciting for our city and I think we should shout about how Birmingham has always been a major innovation player in the UK. Too often it’s only the so called ‘golden’ triangle of London-Oxford-Cambridge that are openly recognised as the British science leaders, but thanks to all the work taking place in Edgbaston venues like Birmingham Research Park and our newest addition The Biomedical Research Hub (The BioHub), we now have the chance to join this trio, taking our own place on the UK science and medical innovation scene. We are definitely ones to watch.
We’re launching The BioHub Birmingham at a great time too. With Ebola still a worry, bio-medical innovation and the development of drugs is needed more than ever right now – and we have the laboratory facilities to host men and women who want to make these inroads into medical discovery.
The BioHub Birmingham is an amazing new lab space facility that is already bringing a thriving concentration of science entrepreneurs and start-up companies to the region. They’re looking for affordable space where they can research, complete proof of concept work and progress medical ideas. I want us to celebrate their business successes too, because just as much as their city-centre retail cousins, they have a role to play for the long term benefit of the city and the wider country.
The name says it all. It’s a BioHub for bringing life and buzz to Birmingham. A place for bio-medical start-ups to grow into something brilliant. By all means celebrate the arts and leisure but let’s also hail the people quietly innovating for all of our futures.
LaBiotech Tour is the first world tour of biotech ecosystems. They share the exciting work from biotech companies through a series of documentaries. Fifteen biotech companies were featured on the UK tour (small, medium and large) and The BioHub Birmingham, a brand new fully serviced biomedical laboratory, based at the heart of the Edgbaston Medical Quarter was one of them. Take a look at the featured video above which also showcases the BizzInn business incubator. Learn more about the LaBiotech UK tour.
Anthony Clarke, Senior Laboratory Manager
The Innovation Laboratory is the responsibility of the Senior Laboratory Manager Anthony Clarke, whose role is a constantly evolving one at the moment, as the vast array of different equipment is gradually commissioned. A typical day can involve everything from paperwork to dummy runs in the autoclave.
He says, “This job is an incredible opportunity. These are commercially serviced labs that are offering superb facilities for applied research and proof of concept testing. We don’t know what exciting biomedical idea is going to come through that door - and that’s the joy of the job.”
The crucial aspect of his role, for Anthony, is the safety of the research laboratory environment and the safe use of the shared equipment. He is also the on-site expert for the tenants to refer to for training and equipment operation. Clean, calibrated and working equipment are the other main responsibilities of the Laboratory Managers.
To aid the Laboratory Managers, The BioHub will feature a state-of-the-art equipment monitoring system, which will check all the low temperature storage for compliance, and uses WiFi connectivity to a remote safe server.
Anthony said, “When there’s 18 refrigerators and 13 freezers holding precious materials for your tenants you need to be sure everything is functioning well!"
Complementing the -80°C and -152°C freezers provided for tenants, a high specification Cryo Room keeps two liquid Nitrogen freezers at -180°C where the most extreme low temperature storage is sited. The specially fitted room has a top-up system from tanks situated outside and the Laboratory Manager checks the monitoring screens for fill-levels, correct temperature and that oxygen levels in the room are safe.
Two autoclaves are provided for tenants, and enable clean lab ware to be maintained as well as ensuring waste is completely safe before leaving the building. A high end glass-washer complete with on-board purified water system ensures glassware is ultra clean and always available.
The main purified water in the Innovation laboratory (18.2MΩ) supplies high quality water from a 75L reservoir. A ring main from a centralised purified water system to enable supply, on tap, in all the side laboratories and ultimately throughout The BioHub is currently being installed. This will bring the total purified water reservoir capacity to 600 litres.
The Fume Hoods and Biosafety cabinets (Class II) have to be compliant with statutory regulations and the Laboratory Manager must keep the necessary records; the less technical aspects of his daily role, and perhaps if pressed the least liked!
Balances and pipettes may not be the most glamorous of the equipment we supply for tenants, but they certainly are the most capable in terms of material measurement. We have a range of balances with different capabilities but the most impressive is the Microbalance which can measure down to 0.000001g or 1µg. To ensure absolute accuracy the balance is mounted on a marble plinth and is protected by a Perspex surround.
Anthony issues each tenant of the BioHub Birmingham with their own set of pipettes; 3 variables (0.5-10µL, 10-100µL and 100-1000µL) and an electronic pipette (30-300µL), and these form the standard equipment on each Lab Station, along with a Vortex mixer.
Anthony continued, “All of the shared equipment needs delivering, installing and commissioning and I am responsible for supplier and engineer liaison. The good relationships that have been established are essential to the future smooth running of The BioHub."
Part of the wider Laboratory Manager’s role is the enjoyable activity of establishing a strong bond with the tenants and balancing a ‘policing’ aspect with that of a mentor or trainer. He responds quickly to their needs and supplies technical support or advice when required.
All of the shared equipment we provide for tenants is ‘top of the range’ and is of a value that start-ups would find difficult to finance for themselves.
“This is exactly why The BioHub Birmingham® at Birmingham Research Park is unique and illustrates our commitment to attracting biomedical and medtech companies to our facilities” said Anthony.
Tenants of The BioHub Birmingham benefit from business support services and facilities which BizzInn provides, just next door, and also have the advantage of access to the diverse network of businesses, research scientists and clinicians based at other adjacent life science venues. Probably the most compact biomedical hub in the UK!