Linear Diagnostics Ltd Case Study

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BioHub Case Study Photograph

  • 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:

tim dafforn

Professor Dafforn speaking at the University of Birmingham's Business with Birmingham conference 2015

“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.”

Dr James Wilkie talks Scientific Innovation

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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…

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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.

The BioHub Birmingham® featured on LaBiotech UK tour

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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.

The Life of a Research Laboratory Manager- Spotlight

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anthony news page

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.

Autoclave

BioHub Autoclave

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."

Innovation laboratory

BioHub Innovation Laboratory

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!

Linear Diagnostics Ltd finalists at Pitchfest

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Tenant of The BioHub Birmingham®, Linear Diagnostics Ltd, were finalists at Venturefest West Midlands’ Pitchfest 2015, held at the NEC, Birmingham, on the 30th June. Pitchfest was a competition inviting business owners to present their ideas, pitch for investment and take part in the showcase event, with the chance of winning one of several awards. The company had a lot of interest in their technology and spoke to a wide variety of people about potential applications for their platform technology.  (Matt Hicks, Chief Technology Officer Linear Diagnostics, pictured left)

Matthew Hicks PitchFest photo for website

BizzInn Entrepreneurs Challenge – Are You In?

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Are you running a small business under five years old? Do you have a brilliant business idea that you're convinced could be the next big thing in the life sciences sector? Could you benefit from a massive business boosting prize package, expert coaching and tailored business support? BizzInn, the University of Birmingham's business incubator, has launched a new Entrepreneurs Challenge to find the next idea which has the potential to have a big impact on health. The BizzInn Entrepreneurs Challenge has been specifically designed to help entrepreneurs to assess their business idea and to develop a credible exploitation plan which will help to launch their new product, service or innovation. The Challenge is open to entrepreneurs, start-ups and SME’s under 5 years old (and in the West Midlands), that have the next big idea with the potential to impact the medical/biotech or overall life sciences sector. A substantial prize is on offer to the winner worth over £15,000 which includes a full package of business support designed to help accelerate their businesses, including:

  • Six months’ access to the BizzInn incubator at Birmingham Research Park, including access to all in-house events, and six months’ 1-2-1 business support and mentoring from the BizzInn Entrepreneur-in- Residence
  • Six months’ lab space at the BioHub on Birmingham Research Park
The full prize package is to be confirmed shortly. For more details and to download an application form, please visit BizzInn's website 

The BioHub Birmingham attends Venturefest WM 2015

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The BioHub Birmingham® attended Venturefest WM at the NEC on Tuesday 30th June – CEO of Birmingham Research Park, James Wilkie, presented on Birmingham Research Park, The BioHub, BizzInn and the surrounding cluster as benefits. The event provides networking opportunities along with presentations, stimulating ideas and funding options to entrepreneurs and start-ups particularly in the science knowledge and technology fields.

The BioHub Birmingham at VentureFest WM 2015

The BioHub Sponsors Medilink UK Award

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BioHub were delighted to sponsor 'The BioHub Birmingham Outstanding Achievement Award' at the Medilink UK Awards 2015. This year's winners were Mast Group Ltd,  a market leader in manufacturing and supplying diagnostic products which are mostly used for the detection and diagnosis of infectious diseases.

Mast Group Ltd- Winners

The photo features (from left to right) :

Ken Wong, Instruments Development Manager Mast; Sarah Wallis, Sales Support Manager Mast; Sean Rose, Paralympian; Howard Rose, R&D Director Mast; Dr James Wilkie, CEO Birmingham Research Park

For more details of the awards and winners, please click here

The BioHub Birmingham Officially Opens!

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26.03.15

The BioHub Birmingham Launch
The doors to The BioHub Birmingham® officially opened on Tuesday 24th March to unveil the first purpose-built facility of its kind in the UK. The £7 million biomedical laboratory and innovation office based in Edgbaston’s Medical Quarter is set to bring a thriving concentration of biomedical entrepreneurs and start-up companies to the region, all looking for affordable space where they can research, complete proof of concept work and bring their innovative medical developments to market. The format of shared biomedical laboratory facilities with accompanying office space is based on the successful co-working concept of ‘plug-and-play’ biotech incubators that is emerging across the US. To mark the opening of the venture, Professor Sir David Eastwood, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, spoke about the importance of The BioHub Birmingham, stating that as part of “a core mission to translate the results of research and teaching into economic impact, the University of Birmingham has for many years been promoting and supporting entrepreneurship and enterprise activity by our students, staff and local business people."
Professor Sir David Eastwood, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Birmingham
“The opening of The BioHub is a significant milestone contributing to the growth of the life sciences sector in Birmingham and is a major new asset for the outstanding medical cluster here in Edgbaston, and the wider City region.” Councillor Tahir Ali from Birmingham City Council reiterated how the new facility was good news for Birmingham and would build on its reputation as a UK leader in biomedical innovation: “There’s a growing life science sector in the West Midlands, with over 850 science businesses in the region, a large medical school, and the city has a proven track record in clinical academic programmes and translational research. The BioHub is the latest project to spearhead the next step on linking innovators with medical experts and opportunities for clinical trials – all to better improve our healthcare. It’s putting Birmingham on a map internationally in a way that has never been done before.” George Freeman MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Life Sciences sent a strong signal of support to The BioHub team and the broader Birmingham science cluster: “The truth is, that our life sciences in the UK goes further than the traditional ‘golden triangle’ of London, Oxford and Cambridge.  The work going on at The BioHub Birmingham is absolutely key to the success of our economy." He continued: “The multi-disciplinary convergence is really changing the life sciences landscape and examples like The BioHub create great opportunities for people to work together.”
The BioHub Birmingham Launch
After the unveiling of a special plaque by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Birmingham to commemorate the launch of the research facility, the 50 visitors including professors from the University of Birmingham were given a tour around the venue. The BioHub Birmingham is now open for prospective tenants, contact us for more information.

The Next Generation of Healthcare

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18.03.15

BQ2 Magazine
BQ2 explores the next generation of healthcare in a special report co-sponsored by The BioHub. The report tells the story of the people and businesses who have given the West Midlands a global presence in life sciences and biotech. View the full report to see how collaboration has been the catalyst for the sector’s remarkable growth and its array of innovations: http://issuu.com/room501/docs/bqwm2healthinn_issuu