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16 October, 2023 - 10:13 By News Desk

Innovation hothouse just got warmer

Competition is hotting up as a group of exciting startups prepare to face off in an Anglia Innovation Partnership (AIP) showdown at Norwich Research Park in November.

The event will feature an exciting climax to an Innovation Hothouse Competition launched a few months before the event, which attracted submissions from spin-outs and startups to present in the showcase.

The finalists will deliver quickfire ‘Dragons’ Den style’ pitches on the latest innovations coming from the campus research community.

Judges hail from across the UK. They include serial entrepreneur Peter Cowley, startup adviser and angel investor James Thomas; Christina O’Brian – Corporate Principal Assistant at co-sponsor Mills & Reeve; Dr Kam Pooni – CEO of successful biotech startup Glyconics; Professor Sheng Qi, Professor of Pharmaceutical Material Science &Technology, Associate Dean for Innovation (Faculty of Science), UEA; and Roz Bird who is CEO of Anglia Innovation Partnership – Norwich Research Park’s science park management entity. 

Dr Soraya Jones, Entrepreneur in Residence at the UEA Science Faculty, has driven the Innovation Hothouse Competition working closely with Prof Sheng Qi.

She said: “At UEA, we aim to support students and academics within the faculty by enhancing their knowledge of entrepreneurship, giving them a greater awareness of the commercialisation process and learning how to be more engaged with the business and investor communities.

“The Innovation Hothouse competition is part of this initiative, and also celebrates all the world-class innovation taking place in the region.”

The winner and runner-up will receive respective cash prizes of £500 and £250, awarded by the Royal Society EiR and the UEA Science Faculty.

Most of the finalists will also receive benefits such as mentoring by the EiR on their pitch, support with an investment readiness workshop, an investor book written by Peter Cowley, further mentoring on growing a businesses, introductions to people and companies, chances to network and a one year virtual tenancy for Norwich Research Park (on the condition that a company is set up and subject to HMRC checks).

In the second half of the Enterprise Event on the day, there will be an interactive panel discussion – ‘How to Translate, Innovate and Secure Investment and Partnerships’ – with leaders of innovation Dr Pete Jackson, Chris Hunter, Dr Andrew Osbourne, Dr Jason Mellad, James Pilling and Dr Sarah Robinson.  

The Innovation Hothouse finalists and their propositions include:-
• OPAU: Waterless Technology Platform. A process that gently removes water, transforming products into lightweight dry sheets that reduce transportation costs and are more environmentally sustainable.

• MovExplore which utilises the latest technologies to provide scans to the public focusing specifically on the way they move. The scans generate comprehensive reports, allowing clinicians to assess patients in far greater detail than simple visual observation or clinical assessment alone.

• Ediform – Printing 3D and 4D food which provides the right nutritional values to feed hospital patients, people in care homes, children at school designed to aid recovery and/or ensure they maintain a healthy disposition.

• TraitSeq – an AI-based AgriTech company aiming to disrupt the field of agricultural genomics. By utilising proprietary AI and machine learning methods, it predicts complex agricultural traits and input efficacy with reportedly unprecedented accuracy, accelerating the development of new crops and products for breeders, agrochemical, and gene-editing companies.

• MVPea – Its mission is to bridge the gap between science and consumers by converting cutting-edge research into innovative pea-based food products.

• Virilitas Labs – Addresses the critical issue of declining human fertility and limited advancements in assisted reproductive technologies. Its focus is on providing individuals with information about the reproductive health and enabling clinics to offer fertility tools that improve pregnancy and live birth rates.

• Matthew Bennett, UEA – His venture promotes innovative approaches for environmental sustainability of laboratories using specialist knowledge and expertise on lab sustainability and established effective mechanisms to deliver a range of services for organisations across industry and research. 

• Dr Ross Overman, The Chemistry Shed – a new biotech business that uses an innovative in silico platform developed by scientists at the UEA to accelerate the discovery of new medicines.

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