By: Helen Miller-Viney
26 August 2015: Birmingham, UK – Bioscience Ventures Limited (BSVL), a joint venture between Abingdon Health Ltd and the University of Birmingham, was the first biomedical company to take residency at The BioHub in March 2015.
They have been closely followed by Linear Diagnostics Ltd in June who are developing a rapid diagnostic platform technology, and Serascience Ltd who have recently commercially launched ‘Seralite – FLC’, a rapid diagnostic device for the diagnosis and monitoring of multiple myeloma. Both technologies came out of successful research projects at the University of Birmingham.
With the aim of commercialising medical diagnostic products, the companies have taken five benches and five desk spaces between them at the fully equipped site in a move which guarantees room for expansion in the future.
Dr Matt Hicks, Linear Diagnostics Chief Technology Officer, leads a team which is developing diagnostic products for medical and veterinary applications, and is currently working on a diagnostic device which will be used in agriculture to help farmers reduce the amount of wastage in their potato crops. He explains:
“Potatoes coming in to storage facilities are either shipped off to supermarkets straightway, processed into chips and crisps, or stored. The stock left in storage is then vulnerable to the bacteria living on them and can lead to rot and spoilage. This is where our invention comes in to play.
“Current practice involves sending samples to a laboratory for analysis, this is often time consuming and not viable when a quick decision is required. We are developing a hand-held device which can be used to sample potatoes on-site and provide a diagnostic result within minutes. These results will tell a farmer whether their potatoes have high or medium levels of bacteria (not harmful to humans) and therefore make the decision on how best to make use of their supply. It’s not only economically viable, but helps them to reduce wastage.”
The common theme for all these companies is the development and commercialisation of rapid diagnostic tests for use by healthcare professionals. These types of diagnostic tools have positive implications not only for the developed world, by providing faster diagnosis and thereby improving patient outcomes, but also for medics working in developing countries where access to centralised laboratories and clinics is challenging.
Dr Chris Hand, CEO of BSVL sees a whole host of merits in having their companies based at the new BioHub:
“BSVL being located at The BioHub Birmingham allows us access to a dynamic and collaborative science community to further enhance current projects, establish new partnerships and exploit novel technology. Our vision is to further develop our diagnostic technologies and laboratory services and the BioHub certainly creates an environment in which to do so.”
The £7 million BioHub biomedical laboratory is a new facility set to bring a thriving concentration of science entrepreneurs and start-up companies to the region who are looking for affordable space where they can research, complete proof of concept work and progress medical ideas to market.
“The name says it all,” says CEO of the Birmingham Research Park, Dr James Wilkie. “It’s a hub for bringing life and buzz to Birmingham. A place for bio-medical start-ups to grow into something brilliant.
“Other biotech incubators in the UK don’t have a shared lab like ours. With 24 bench spaces available, plus specialist labs too, The BioHub is a venue, it’s going to be a great community of science innovation; people sparking off each other, sharing ideas, and working in a state-of-the art equipped environment.”
BioHub tenants also have the advantage of access to the diverse network of businesses, research scientists and clinicians based at other adjacent life science venues. Tenants of The BioHub benefit from business support from the University of Birmingham, provided by the Enterprise Acceleration team at the BizzInn business incubator.