A start-up company from Norway with a potentially world-beating coating to reduce friction has scooped the 2015 ACES Award for Academic Enterprise. Seram Coatings, a company founded only last year out of research at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology won the prize against stiff competition from three other university start-ups from France and Sweden.
The prize was awarded after the four companies – shortlisted from applicants from all over Europe – presented their progress and plans to Investing for Growth, the 2015 Science|Business annual summit conference of university, business and policy leaders at ESADE Business School in Barcelona, Spain.
Presenting the prize, Jonathan Wareham, Dean of Faculty and Research at ESADE, reported that the judges, all members of the Science|Business Network, had been unanimous, noting how Seram Coatings met all the key criteria of fast track entrepreneurship, coupled with a very high social impact – the technology could cut 35 per cent off the weight of an aeroplane engine, for example, reducing the fuel needed to fly. The prize was accepted by Gisle Østereng, CEO of the company and a co-founder.
The three other shortlisted companies were CAILabs, with a technology to dramatically boost bandwidth for Internet networks, and PEP-Therapy, with an innovative peptide-based drug delivery system, both from the Université Pierre et Marie Curie, France; and Neosense Technologies, a spin-off from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden, with a sensor for monitoring blood oxygen tension in premature babies.
The ACES is a programme created in 2008 to celebrate spin-outs from universities and public research institutes in Europe. Since then, more than 150 companies across the EU have been recognised for excellence, and several have gone on to success in growing sales, adding investment or finding new corporate partners and buyers.
Science|Business, a media and communications company that runs the ACES awards, manages a network of 42 universities, companies and public-sector organisations focused on research and innovation.
In its 7th edition, ACES 2015 was open to individuals who have created a promising spin-out, created after 1 June 2013 and based on ideas developed at European universities. Each member of the Science|Business Network was invited to nominate two candidates for this ‘fast-start’ ACES award. This year there were 20 entries.
The finalists were chosen by three panels of spin-out experts, from university tech-transfer offices, companies and investment firms specialised in ICT, medtech and engineering/materials. Judges looked at the progress the four finalists accomplished during the first two years of their existence, with particular focus on:
- Novelty: what makes the company unique?
- Business development and market potential production, marketing, and sales
- Fundraising strategy
- Expected impact on society
- Looking forward – growth targets foreseen in five years