Healthy reply to university collaboration

Dr Phil Waywell, Sheffield Science Gateway manager, right, speaks to one of the delegates.
Dr Phil Waywell, Sheffield Science Gateway manager, right, speaks to one of the delegates.
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More than 350 companies from the health sector travelled to Sheffield University to attend a pioneering event designed to boost collaboration and innovation.

The Innovations in Healthcare event is the brainchild of the university’s Science and Healthcare Gateways.

Dr Jen Evans, research development manager for the Sheffield Science Gateway, said: “University-business collaborations benefit both partners and generate solutions that help society at large.

“We organised this structured networking day to allow businesses to find out about the latest developments in the University of Sheffield’s healthcare research and how partnering with us can take their research and development to the next level.”

The gateways exist to get innovations by the university’s scientists out into the world while also providing business with an opportunity to tap in to their expertise and cutting edge equipment to solve their problems and develop their own ideas for new products.

Recent successes include working with Sheffield firm LabLogic to increase the sensitivity of its equipment which is used to monitor the way the body absorbs drugs and a separate project with analytical instrument supplier, the Farfield Group, to develop equipment to develop new innovations in healthcare screening.

Another collaboration, with Cambridge-based CamStent, has involved developing new coatings to reduce the risk of infection when patients have to be fitted with devices like urinary catheters.

Researchers have also worked with UK life sciences company Syntaxin to develop ways of controlling ‘Mast’ cells, which are known to play a role in the growth of tumours and diseases involving allergic responses, such as asthma, eczema and irritable bowel syndrome.

Last, but not least, University scientists have been collaborating with leading UK-based drug discovery research company Peakdale Molecular on a safer, cheaper and more commercially viable way of creating complex compounds, called heterocyclic boronic acids, which are used in a wide range of pharmaceuticals and crop protection agents.

According to Wesley Harker, from Sheffield University’s Science Gateway, a significant proportion of the companies attending the Innovations in Healthcare event had not worked with the University in the past.

Hopes are high that after a morning hearing about the University’s work with business and seeing its facilities and an afternoon of one to one meetings, a series of new collaborations on potentially ground breaking health care developments will result.

Facilities on show includedINSIGNEO and the Sheffield Centre for Robotics.

INSIGNEO is a multi-disciplinary institute to develop computer simulations of the human body and disease processes, while the Centre for Robotics studies new robotic technologies, human-robot interaction and the impact of robotics on society.