Moredun wins Converge Challenge 2012
A team from Moredun Research Institute won first prize in a national competition to find the best new business start up based on innovative scientific research.
The team led by Dr Mike Fontaine, Dr Richard Mole and Professor Willie Donachie have developed a new platform technology that will allow the development of novel and effective vaccines against important bacterial diseases of livestock. The animal health market is a global multi-billion dollar industry and this new technology is well placed to make a strong impact to generate novel products to prevent and control animal diseases.
ArxBio, the Moredun team’s research and business idea, beat strong competition from across the Scottish academic sector to take the top prizein Converge Challenge and will now receive £ 25 K cash and a further £25 K in support to help establish ArxBio with the aim to have market approved products in the next 3-5 years.The winning concept was announced at the awards dinner held at Heriot Watt University on the 27th September, with guests including Mike Russell (Cabinet Secretary for Education and Life Long Learning) and representatives from the academic and business communities across Scotland.
Dr Mike Fontaine said, “We are delighted and honoured to win this award and have learned so much from the whole experience of taking part in Converge Challenge. The training and interaction with the other participants has really helped us to develop our business idea and I am now really looking forward to working with the new company ArxBio to develop new and effective vaccines to prevent animal and human disease”.
The winning concept is derived from Moredun’s work on caseous lymphadenitis (CLA), a bacterial infection of small ruminants, including sheep and goats, which is a major global economic and animal welfare problem for livestock producers. With previous proof of concept funding from Scottish Enterprise the team were able to develop the platform technology required to create a new more efficacious vaccine for the control of CLA infection by improving the immunogenic properties of the vaccine. The business plan from Converge Challenge will see the team using this technology to develop vaccines for other bacterial diseases of livestock, and the launch of a new spin-out company, ArxBio, geared towards commercialisation of these vaccines.
Dr Richard Mole commented, “We believe that our newly developed platform technology will be widely applicable to the creation of other vaccines against bacterial diseases of both animals and humans and are very excited about winning this award and the up and coming launch of our new spin-out company, ArxBio”
Professor Willie Donachie said, “Moredun has a strong track record in researching and developing successful vaccines against bacterial diseases in livestock and we are delighted to win this award which we hope will enable us to bring new and much needed products to the market place to improve animal health and welfare globally”.
Converge Challenge, run by Heriot-Watt University, gives students and members of staff of every Scottish university and research institute the chance to develop the commercial potential of their inventions through a series of business mentoring and training, before being short-listed for the final prize. Converge Challenge 2012 involved 50 applicants from across Scotland's academic sector.
Professor Julie Fitzpatrick, Chief Executive and Scientific Director of Moredun, was delighted to hear the news “Moredun has a very strong tradition of applied research and in translating this into practical outputs, such as vaccines, to help prevent and control livestock disease. I am delighted for the Moredun team involved and look forward to future developments with the new company. I would also like to thank Heriot Watt University and the Converge Challenge team for providing such a worthwhile opportunity for budding entrepreneurs in Scotland”.
Professor Steve Chapman, Principal of Heriot-Watt University, said, "I have every confidence that Converge Challenge will continue to grow and equip more people with the right skills and support they need to turn their academic research into tomorrow's new companies.
"As rising numbers of university spin-outs are created, the growth of Converge Challenge is further evidence of the entrepreneurial spirit andresearch excellence that thrives in Scottish higher education."
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