The four finalists chosen by a selection of innovation experts to compete for first prize in the 2015 Academic Enterprise Awards (ACES) are Seram Coating (Norwegian University of Science and Technology), Neosense Technologies (KTH Royal Institute of Technology), CAILabs and Pep-Therapy (both Pierre-and-Marie-Curie University).
The finalists will present their three-minute ‘elevator-pitches’ on 20 November 2015 at the 2015 Science|Business annual summit in Barcelona, where leaders from research, industry and policy will debate how best unleash Europe’s technological potential. The ACES awards programme, running since 2008, is the only pan-European contest for university spin-out companies.
Norway’s Seram Coatings claims it is the first in the world to have developed an anti-corrosion and wear-resistant coating based on silicon carbide, one of the world´s hardest compounds. Because this material has no melting point, it has not previously been possible to use it for coating. The company expects its spray, which should be able to withstand fierce heat or high doses of radiation, will replace coatings made of chrome and tungsten carbide.
Sweden’s Neosense Technologies has developed a sensor with monitoring systems that keeps tabs on the blood oxygen levels and temperature of preterm infants. The company claims its system can reduce mortality and morbidity for pre-term babies at risk of developing lifelong disorders due to impaired oxygen therapy. Oxygen supply for premature new-borns needs to be tightly controlled: if levels are too high there is a risk of eye damage, even blindness, if too low there is a risk of permanent damage to the brain and other organs. The developers estimate a market of 50,000 patients across Europe and calculate that a reduction of minor and major disabilities by 10 per cent would save health systems €4 billion a year.
France’s CAILabs uses ‘multi-plane light conversion’ technologies, protected by three patent families, to design optical components that manipulate the shape of coherent light, allowing optical fibres using the technology to carry more data. With its technology, CAILabs helped Japan’s KDDI, the country’s second biggest telecoms firm, break the world record for fibre capacity, as reported this year.
France’s other finalist, Pep-Therapy, is developing drugs based on peptides – protein fragments that are small enough to get through the cell wall and lock onto intracellular targets, blocking the effects of cancer-promoting enzymes. The first product, DPT-PEP1, targets the caspase-9/PP2 pathway, which is implicated in the development of breast, lung and ovary cancers. DPT-PEP1 consists of two sequences, a shuttle to deliver the drug into cancer cells and a second to block the target protein. Preclinical results support the initial clinical development of DPT-PEP1 in triple-negative breast, lung and ovary cancers, uveal melanoma (orphan disease) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Two further products are in preclinical development.
What are the ACES?
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. For past winners of ACES, see here
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 will look 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
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