This funding will allow us to expand our capacity and offering, whilst also allowing us to accelerate through the development of our product line.
"Innovate UK drives productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas. We connect businesses to the partners, customers and investors that can help them turn ideas into commercially successful products and services and business growth" – Innovate UK, the UK's innovation agency
This has been the culmination of nearly a year of hard work, but it is by no means the end to a story. This is just the beginning!
The journey so far...
Since finishing my PhD at the University of Nottingham, I have been working on a project which aimed to commercialise the innovative peptide hydrogel platform that was first developed by my supervisor Prof Cathy Merry.
At the time, all we had was an idea: to bring the next generation of peptide hydrogels to the wider research community, to help tackle the problems of using animal-derived materials in drug discovery and investigative research.
To fully test this idea in the market place, I enrolled on the BBSRC ICURe programme, supported by Prof Cathy Merry, Dr Jonathan Gibbons, and Dr Clive Roper. This began with 3 months of customer discovery work, in which we found our place in the market, followed by another 3 months of business planning.
It ended with an application to Innovate UK's ICURe Follow-on-Fund competition, which would provide the seed funding needed to establish the latest exciting spinout company from the University of Nottinghan based around our hydrogel technology.
After a few weeks of nervous waiting, we were delighted on Friday to find out that we had been successful in securing £270,690 in funding to help us realise our vision.
The next steps for us will be to formally register the company so that we can begin work on our first commercial projects.
This will incluce collaborations with selected early adopters who expressed interest during the customer discovery phase. These projects will help us fine-tune our eventual product line, which will include several hydrogel formulations aimed at modelling different tissue types.
We will listen closely to each customer's feedback, as we understand that transforming a laboratory technology into a commercial product requires guidance from the end user to ensure it meets all of their needs. This is also one of the ways in which we intend to differentiate ourselves from our competitiors: by providing unparalled customer service, now and into the future.
A look to the future...
Our idea was to bring the next generation of peptide hydrogels for 3D cell culture to the wider research community. Behind this, our passion for reducing, replacing, and refining the use of animals in research is our driving force.
We hope that by bringing an alternative to the market for animal-derived hydrogels (such as those derived from Engelbreth-Holm-Swarm (EHS) mouse sarcoma), we can help to reduce, and eventually replace, the use of animals and animal-derived materials in drug discovery and investigative research.