You can’t stop innovation: new Enterprise Fellows announced

Amidst the global coronavirus pandemic, a new group of academic entrepreneurs have been awarded prestigious RSE Enterprise Fellowships. Six innovators, each with an exciting business proposition, will now benefit from an equity-free package of support worth up to £90,000 each to aid them in the commercialisation of their project. The package includes a year’s salary, tailored business training and mentoring, business support funding and access to the RSE’s network of business contacts.

Whilst the UK Government requires social distancing measures to be in place, all training, mentoring and networking will be carried out via online platforms.

Meet our newest Enterprise Fellows:

Simon Bennie, University of Bristol
Funder: BBSRC
Company/project: Narupa

Simon has developed immersive virtual reality software that allows multiple researchers to step into scientific simulations whilst they are operating. Using his software, users can develop new products and solve scientific problems faster, as the programme allows time and money savings, alongside requiring less technical skills to run the simulations. By providing better quality, and faster simulation, Simon hopes to be able to reduce the R&D costs of designing new materials, enzymes, drug candidates or even petrochemical pipelines. Existing scientific software tools provide an 8x ROI and Simon believes his product will exceed this by offering up to 10x human speed on traditional approaches, and a further 10000x saving in computing time.


Faisal Ghani, Heriot-Watt University
Funder: BP Fund
Company/project: SolarisKit

SolarisKit is a low-cost, flat-packable solar thermal collector, capable of converting sunlight directly into heat in the form of hot water. In the first instance, Faisal aims to take his technology to Rwanda, where currently up to 40% of household income is spent on energy, with 70% going towards heating hot water. It is hoped that SolarisKit will significantly improve the lives of millions of people in the developing world by providing clean, affordable energy, whilst also reducing carbon emissions.


Jack Kennefick, University of Birmingham
Funder: RSE
Company/project: Targeted Epigenetic Profiling

Due to our growing and ageing population, cases of cancer are expected to double by 2030, putting unprecedented pressure on strained healthcare systems. As a result, there is an immense unmet need for the discovery of better biomarkers (indicators of the diseases presence), that can be used to detect and diagnose cancer earlier.

Jack and his colleagues have developed a novel, targeted, epigenetic profiling technology capable of providing epigenetic information on a genome wide scale. He plans to employ this technology to discover new cancer biomarkers and develop these markers into innovative clinical assays capable of early detection and diagnosis of multiple cancers.


Steven Owens, University of Strathclyde
Funder: RSE
Company/project: Huli

Huli offers a completely different way of finding the best routes anywhere in the world for sports such as cycling, running and hiking. All you just need to do is tell us what you want from your chosen activity and Huli will do the rest.

Imagine you are abroad and want to find a 1 hour run. How do you know where to go, what the terrain will be like, and if it is suitable for your level of fitness? Huli can calculate a route in a few clicks, removing the need to guess or spend hours scrutinising maps. Over time, Huli uses machine learning to understand what routes you like so that it can recommend future routes to match your adventure needs.


Alexander McVey, University of Edinburgh
Funder: BBSRC
Company/project: Affordable Automation of Microbial Flask-Based Measurements

In the microbiology sector, early-stage R&D involves large amounts of manually culturing microbial samples. This is inefficient for companies who would like to automate but are prohibited by costs. Furthermore, the current method for estimating microbial growth doesn’t provide enough information for industrial biotechnology applications, pharmacological work on antimicrobial resistance or academic research, because these sectors require accurate information on cell morphology as well as cell number and biomass.

Alexander hopes to offer customers an inexpensive route into routine microbial culturing on a system that is smaller and cheaper than the currently available technology. His project is also modular, allowing customers to retrofit additional functionality to systems when required.


Sunil Sharma, University of St Andrews
Funder: IBioIC/RSE
Company/project: BioXBox (Enzymatic Halogenation Chips)

Carbon-Halogen (C-X) bonds are critical to the activity of over 20% of clinically used pharmaceuticals and more than 80% of agrochemicals. However, these bonds are challenging to selectively install into molecules using traditional chemistry. Sunil’s research is focused on enzymes that can make these bonds in a green and efficient manner, directing the exact position of C-X formation so that only one product is formed. He has developed a concept for BioXBox flow chips, containing immobilised enzymes that offer an enzymatic solution to C-X formation. Simple and small, these devices can function on the microscale and allow substrate to be added on one side, and product to flow out the other side.


The next deadline for RSE Enterprise Fellowships is to be confirmed.