Enabling the UK bioeconomy by springboarding business innovation

Posted on: 07/09/2016

£45,000 of funding translated into £90,000 of business support through the 2015 IBLF Awards.

The Industrial Biotechnology Leadership Forum (IBLF) is an industry-chaired and Government-supported initiative to develop and deliver the UK strategy for Industrial Biotechnology (IB) and the Bioeconomy.

Creating a positive investment environment for IB is just one the objectives of the IBLF. As delivery partner for the IBLF, the Knowledge Transfer Network launched the IBLF Awards: a competition for early-stage SMEs to help them springboard their business.

The prize was a £10,000 voucher to spend on a service such as web design, IP advice/protection, PR or business mentoring.

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Applicants were asked to submit a two-minute video describing their business and why they needed the voucher. A short-list was then invited to the ‘IB Den’ – a Dragon’s Den style session held at the Industrial Biotechnology Showcase conference on 11th January 2015. A panel of business leaders then selected nine winners.

The awards were made possible by funding from the Scottish Government and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and each award was matched by in-kind services from nine sponsors.

IBLF Award recipient Owen Jones, Naturiol, said:

“Without the grant it would have been much more difficult to obtain high quality expert support and to file the strongest possible patent.”

Basil Omar, CHAIN Biotech Ltd, was able to access website design and branding assistance from Starbit Ltd. Basil said:

“We are very impressed and satisfied with the work completed with this award and intend to continue working with Starbit Ltd. The award should allow us to improve upon our efforts to engage early with potential customers and to find industrial collaborative partners.”

You can download details of the 2015 IBLF Award winners here.

Valueform access analytical services from the Biorenewables Development Centre

Valueform Ltd were provided with analytical services by the Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC), after winning a 2015 IBLF Award.

Valueform makes food packaging from 100% cereal waste, such as straw. BDC examined Valueform’s single use disposable products to see if they were suitable for further second use. They also investigated a new potential biomass waste resource for Valueform, examining its mechanical and chemical characteristics and ingredients.

Prakash Korde of Valueform said:

“The IBLF award has helped in doing valuable work that Valueform would not have undertaken in the short-term for want of own resources. The outcomes open up business growth possibilities.”

Fabien Deswarte, Business Development Unit Manager at BDC said:

“The IBLF award allowed the BDC to work and develop a long-term relationship with an innovative SME in the biorenewables sector.”

Following on from the IBLF Award, Valueform started looking into new product supply chains that may involve larger investment and further collaborative research.

This IBLF Award was sponsored by the Scottish Government.

Fiberight gains understanding of how to exploit IP with help from Greaves Brewster LLP

A 2015 IBLF Award allowed Fiberight Ltd to access the services of Greaves Brewster LLP, a firm of patent and trade mark attorneys. The award was put towards performing a patent search report which confirmed that Fiberight has freedom to operate (FTO) for its Fiberight process. They have also been able to determine a patent filing strategy.

Dr Dhivya Puri of Fiberight said:

“The award was very helpful in gaining an understanding on how to exploit intellectual property and better analyse the IP space within which Fiberight sits.”

Fiberight continued to work with Greaves Brewster LLP to generate further patents and licence agreements.

This IBLF Award was sponsored by the Scottish Government.

Bento-Bio provided with essential market research services by Inventya

Bento Bioworks Ltd (Bento-Bio) were able to access innovation consultancy and market research services from Inventya thanks to a 2015 IBLF Award.

Their product, the Bento Lab, is the first complete DNA laboratory, suitable for a beginner to a professional.

Philipp Boeing, cofounder of Bento-Bio, said:

“Inventya helped us with essential market research for the university teaching market, which is one of our entry markets. In particular, Inventya compiled a report on the overall potential and size of this market, as well as how to approach and exploit this market. Additionally we received a template for a survey to conduct to better fine-tune our pricing and fine out what elements of our offering are most appealing. Inventya supplied us with a list of 100 leads in the UK to follow.”

Inventya’s work will help Bento-Bio to clarify whether the university teaching market is indeed their ideal market entry point and will allow them to gain valuable insights from the market surveys.

As a result of the assistance provided through the IBLF Award scheme, Bento-Bio were left in a position to fine-tune their marketing material in preparation for launching their product into the university teaching market.

This IBLF Award was sponsored by the Scottish Government.

Industrial Phycology improves brand identity with help from Research Media

Industrial Phycology (i-Phyc) were able to work with Research Media Ltd to improve their brand identity and website, thanks to a 2015 IBLF Award.

i-Phyc is an award-winning SME that offers sustainable water recycling and nutrient recovery solutions, using microalgae at an industrial scale to treat wastewater from agricultural, industrial and municipal sources.

Dr Daniel Murray said:

“Research Media worked with i-Phyc to create a modern and innovative brand identity, including logo, typeface, corporate colour scheme and brand guidelines. In addition to this their design team produced a striking infographic to visualise exactly ‘what i-Phyc does’ crafting support text designed to clearly explain to an educated but non-specialist lay person the unique and innovative aspects of i-Phyc. Research Media further worked with us to redesign our current website incorporating all of these visuals and copy to ensure the image of our business was in keeping with its innovative product.

“We recognised that the i-Phyc brand did not reflect the innovative nature of our business. We also recognised the need for clearer visual representation of what we did. Our product is complex and we wanted to make it accessible to a non-specialist audience – widening the impact of i-Phyc’s innovation. A well designed website with clearly written copy and simple calls to action, is an essential tool for any business working in a global marketplace. i-Phyc knew just how important it was to re-work its website to incorporate the new brand identity Research Media had created, ensuring its innovative product could be showcased on a global scale.”

David Lillington of Research Media said:

“Research Media were delighted to be recognised by the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) as specialist supplier of design and media services to the award winners. We relished the task of demonstrating to i-Phyc our skills and knowledge, creating clarity from complexity through novel design and communication.”

This IBLF Award was sponsored by the Scottish Government.

Naturiol file patent for their insecticidal soaps with help from Mewburn Ellis

Naturiol received an IBLF Award to work with Intellectual Property experts at Mewburn Ellis Ltd. They were particularly interested in developing and filing a patent for their insecticidal soaps.

Naturiol was established as a spin-out from Bangor University in 2014 to exploit background and foreground Intellectual Property in the identification, isolation and chemical modification of bioactive substances from indigenous plants.

Mewburn Ellis carried out an initial evaluation of the technology, discussed important questions with Naturiol, and then produced a draft patent filing. This was further developed through several iterations before a final application was filed in September 2015.

Owen Jones of Naturiol said:

“The company is an early stage SME that already has a significant IP portfolio. The ability to use this award to file a critical piece of IP has been extremely important as we expect the route to market in this area to be considerably faster than in others. Without the grant, it would have been much more difficult for the company to obtain high quality expert support and to file the strongest possible patent.”

Sam Bailey of Mewburn Ellis said:

“We were delighted with the level of interest we received from the IBLF Awards winners, which prompted us to increase the number of awards that we offered. The award scheme gave us the opportunity to work with a number of early stage companies and help them to file patent applications which they otherwise might not have considered. The award eased the common concerns of early stage companies about cost of our IP work and allowed us to work with them to tailor the IP work to their needs more quickly than in cases where cashflow is a significant constraint on the project.”

Since receiving this IBLF Award, Naturiol have been able to obtain a proof of concept SMART funding from Innovate UK to provide additional evidence to support the patent and to reach design lock on the formulation.

This IBLF Award was sponsored by the Scottish Government.

CHAIN Biotechnology develop their website and brand with help from Starbit

CHAIN Biotechnology Ltd (CHAIN Biotech) used their IBLF Award to work with Starbit Ltd, a design and digital media company.

CHAIN Biotech is a relatively new company, founded in 2014 and based at Imperial College, London and the University of Nottingham. Their team deploys proprietary “cutting edge” synthetic biology methods to improve production characteristics across their unique collection of industrial strains of the Clostridium bacteria for a wide range of biotech applications.

Ben Bradley, Business Development Manager at CHAIN Biotech said:

“The process of rebranding for a young company has additional benefit beyond the primary objectives in that the business model is bought under additional analysis and scrutiny; therefore this process has also helped us to become more focussed in our strategic thinking and to to understand how best to communicate our key messages to prospective partners and customers.

“We are very impressed and satisfied with the work completed as part of this award and intend to continue working with Starbit Ltd to develop our website and brand. The work has also allowed us to take control of our website content management and therefore allow us to communicate our latest news to customers and the wider scientific community. This award should allow us to improve upon our efforts to engage early with potential customers and to find industrial collaboration partners.”

This IBLF Award was sponsored by the Scottish Government.

IBLF Award helps CelluComp access help from Ouzman IP to assess their IP environment

CelluComp Ltd was able to access advice on intellectual property and freedom to operate from Ouzman IP Ltd, after winning a 2015 IBLF Award.

CelluComp is a dynamic material science company based in Scotland that develops high performance products based on sustainable resources. Their principle activity is to develop and commercialize Curran®, a material developed from the extraction of nano-cellulose fibres of root vegetables.

Ouzman IP provided their opinion on freedom to operate for the process of manufacture for Curran®, including a search report and assessment of published IP.

Dr Eric Whale, Cellucomp Founder and Head of Technology, said:

“The IBLF Award has helped CelluComp to assess the IP environment and plan future strategy.”

This IBLF Award was sponsored by the Scottish Government.

Phytofutures assisted by IP specialists Mewburn Ellis

An IBLF Award allowed Phytofutures to access a number of services from Intellectual Property (IP) specialists Mewburn Ellis. Phytofutures is a start-up company working, amongst other topics, on the use of algae for bioremediation, recycling and upgrading valuable nutrients.

Firstly, they had two very useful meetings to discuss the IP landscape around Phytofutures potential process and product offerings. To supplement this, Mewburn Ellis offered a “hotline” service, enabling Phytofutures to take advantage of IP advice on an ad-hoc basis.

To assist the company with future contracts, Mewburn Ellis developed NDA and MTA documents for a range of scenarios. Phytofutures have already been able to use these. In addition, they have been able to explore Trademarks through searches and preparation for registration.

Phytofutures describe the potential impact of this help as very significant, as without the IBLF voucher they would not (as a start up company) have been able to lever such valuable IP advice. They feel it has enabled them to make more informed decisions about how to proceed in future, and how to organise any partnerships for R&D.

Brenda Parker of Phytofutures said:

“The award has enabled us to access early legal advice and anticipate any issues of background IP or conflict which could prove problematic in future. In addition, we found discussing our business plans in light of IP with Mewburn Ellis very helpful as we decide on next steps.”

Sean Jauss of Mewburn Ellis said:

“It has been exciting to work with Phytofutures and assisting on their early stage IP issues. The IBLF award has allowed us to provide, and for them to benefit from, legal advice at an earlier stage than many start-ups. Such advice is often valuable in setting the young start-up on the road to success.”

This IBLF Award was sponsored by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

Aragreen to undertakes valuable IP research with GreavesBrewster LLP

Aragreen (UK) Ltd used their 2015 IBLF Award to access the expertise of Greaves Brewster LLP’s Intellectual Property specialists.

Aragreen wished to make a patent application in relation to a novel product for non-chemical treatment of water for algae contamination. The findings of the IP work allowed Aragreen to make strategic decisions on the direction of its future activities.

Working with Greaves Brewster LLP they undertook a Patentability Review followed by a Freedom to Operate, in order to better understand where the IP might be used to protect various products that Aragreen were considering bring to market. This work revealed that existing IP in the target areas could significantly restrict any potential protection that the company might achieve. Therefore it was decided not to proceed further with the patent application.

Jerome Vaughan of Aragreen said:

“The IBLF Award enabled the company to undertake valuable IP research in relation to its proposed product development. As a result of the IP background work it was concluded further resource allocation in the planned area would not make financial sense.”

This IBLF Award was sponsored by the Scottish Government.


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