5 Science Start-Ups in the South West Changing the World for the Better

 
The LAUNCH: Great West Global Good Award, sponsored by RSM

The LAUNCH: Great West Global Good Award, sponsored by RSM

When Dr Ben Miles, founder of Spin Up Science, addressed the audience at the Launch: Great West Awards last week, he highlighted a remarkable mission that drives many science companies: the ambition to change the world for the better.

The Launch Great West Awards received 47 nominations, largely representative of all the science start-ups that we could find in the South West. Approximately 60% of those companies applied for the Global Good Award.

This statistic demonstrates the tremendous positive impacts that these companies can have, striving to tackle global challenges, such as disease prevention, food security, and meeting the world’s energy demands.

To celebrate the extraordinary ambition of these companies, below are the top 5 science start-ups in the South West, as decided by the LAUNCH: Great West 2019 Judges, that are working to make the world a better place.


Imophoron (Winner of the Global Good Award 2019)

Frédéric Garzoni , Director and Co-founder of Imophoron

Frédéric Garzoni, Director and Co-founder of Imophoron

Infectious diseases are one of the largest causes of preventable deaths worldwide. Vaccination has proven to be a powerful tool to counter infectious disease, however, recent pandemics such as Chikungunya, Ebola and Zika outbreaks serve as reminders of the need for the fast development of effective vaccines.

Imophoron’s ambition is to bring about a revolution in the fight against deadly pathogens and to tackle current challenges in the vaccine industry with their next-generation vaccine development platform. As an added benefit, Imophoron’s vaccines circumvent the need for refrigeration during transport, allowing vaccinations in remote and underdeveloped locations where disease outbreaks can be devastating.

A judge of the LAUNCH: GW Global Good Award commented:

A vaccines tour-de-force, this team has considered the vaccine system in an end-to-end approach, having dealt with some of the hardest problems facing the industry. The potential impact for eradication and fast control of infectious diseases will be essential for a growing global population."

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Top: Waste and ground water sources. Bottom: Collapsed basic pit latrines.

Top: Waste and ground water sources. Bottom: Collapsed basic pit latrines.

“This organisation has the potential to change the lives of refugees and support them when they are most in need “ ~LAUNCH: GW Judge

Over 4.8 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are currently within refugee camps, and often have no alternative to using basic pit latrines. Widely considered the worst from of constructed sanitation, a basic pit latrine is essentially a hole in the ground with a concrete slab and a small cubical positioned above. They are prone to collapse and often overflow into ground water sources, contaminating drinking water supply.

The BioFactory is a start-up based in Bath, designing sanitation solutions for use in refugee camps and rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa. They have designed an all-in-one latrine and waste processing plant that utilises biodigestion to convert human waste into cooking fuel and soil conditioner. Their mission is to uphold the basic human right of sanitation for all, no matter their situation.

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The MARIA® breast cancer detection system being developed by Micrima

The MARIA® breast cancer detection system being developed by Micrima

Breast cancer is a devastating disease worldwide and the most common cancer in the UK. With approximately 55,000 new breast cancer cases in the UK every year, the importance of early diagnosis cannot be understated. X-ray mammography is the primary imaging technique currently used in breast cancer diagnosis. However, this technology is associated with several safety and comfort concerns.

Micrima’s breast imaging system is an innovative non-invasive approach using harmless, non-ionising, radio-wave technology to collect data on the breast, displayed as images. In recent trials it has proven particularly effective in dense tissue whilst requiring no breast compression.

Driven by a strong team, Micrima has the potential to change the lives of women by offering more effective, efficient and affordable breast cancer screening, that has the potential to save many more lives through earlier detection.

A judge of the Launch: GW Global Good Award commented:

Micrima has the potential to change the lives of women by offering more effective, efficient and affordable breast cancer screening, that has the potential to save many more lives through earlier detection.

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PulsiV Solar.jpg

The development of efficient and affordable sources of renewable energy and reducing energy consumption are critical in tackling climate change. PulsiV are working to develop a transformative technology that has been demonstrated to reliably increase the power output of solar panels by up to 30%. The main benefit of PulsiV’s technology is that it can be easily retrofit into photovoltaics already installed worldwide; increasing power generation of the existing grid.

A judge of the LAUNCH: GW Global Good Award commented:

Considering the global challenge of clean energy and making the most of green resources available to us today, Pulsiv Solar’s technology, which improves the efficiency of solar photovoltaics is very impressive. The fact that their technology converts the energy that would normally be lost to heat, not to mention the fact that their micro-inverter can be retrofitted to existing solar cell networks is a huge boon.

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Charlotte Bermingham,  Chief Technical Officer of Vitamica

Charlotte Bermingham, Chief Technical Officer of Vitamica

The rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) poses one of the most significant threats to human health in modern medicine. As previously treatable bacterial infections develop resistance to standard antibiotics, what may have been minor cases are now potentially deadly. It’s estimated that by 2050, approximately 10 million people will die every year due to antibiotic resistant infections.

To ensure the correct antibiotics are used, prescribers need accurate information about which bacteria is present and whether the strain is susceptible to any antibiotics. However, current susceptibility tests can take 48-72 hours, delaying treatment.

Vitamica are developing a technology that will reduce the time for susceptibility tests from days to less than 1 hour. By improving prescribing practices, Vitamica hope to improve the treatment of infections and directly contribute to global improvements in reducing the emergence of AMR.

A judge of the Launch: GW Global Good Award commented:

Whilst still at an early stage, the ambition and potential of Vitamica is to reduce complications and fatalities due to ineffective antibiotics being prescribed. Real-time results will allow clinicians to prescribe more specifically – leading to more effective treatment and a reduced risk of antimicrobial resistance from more generalised treatments.

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