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Matching emerging technologies with growing markets

Date published: 20/06/17

Matching emerging technologies with growing markets

The small, sensitive and low-cost silicon biosensor technologies being developed by Professor Thomas Krauss and his team at the University of York have the potential to transform personalised medicine – but in such a competitive field, being first to market is everything. Since the autumn of 2016, Translate has been helping to ensure that the transformative technology being developed gets the best possible start.

Silicon photonic biosensors are already used in biomedical laboratories to quickly and accurately detect specific disease biomarkers. While efficient and effective, current biosensing machines are expensive and require costly instrumentation to process the information.

Inside the new range of sensors developed by Professor Krauss, a laser beam illuminates a bespoke grating surface which has been functionalised with specific molecules, such as DNA or antibodies. This ensures that the sensor only responds to specific biomarkers, providing highly sensitive and accurate disease detection.

A key advantage of the bespoke grating sensor technology is that the biomedical information it produces can be read out by a simple camera, which enables the creation of robust, reliable and hand-held devices that can be readily connected to a smartphone. To transform the marketplace, Professor Krauss is aiming for his technology to be commercially available in a device that costs less than £10 to produce.

But simply getting the product to market isn’t enough, unless you can identify the ‘killer application’ as Professor Krauss calls it – the most accessible and profitable market segment. Leaving him to concentrate on the science, Translate is adding value by exploring areas of unmet clinical need, which will help identify potential markets and key opportunities.

“Although I’m already somewhat aware of the competing technologies, Translate is providing a more thorough market assessment,” explains Professor Krauss “This will give us a better idea of where our technology fits into the market, and help us to focus our technical work.”

The Translate team has worked closely with Professor Krauss for over a year, offering support and guidance for a successful EPSRC funding bid, with the team having recently been awarded £1.1m from the research council to take the technology forward. Professor Krauss acknowledges Translate’s role in this success: “As an academic I’m familiar with writing funding proposals. What Translate provided was support in creating the impact statement, helping to shape a document that clearly appealed to funders.”

The Translate programme continues to provide Professor Krauss with practical and relevant business knowledge and support, helping him and his team to understand the marketplace for emerging medical technologies.

This has included practical sessions covering commercial processes like developing a business case, or helping researchers to understand the changing requirements of the NHS.

“My experience of Translate has been very positive,” says Professor Krauss. “Networking, event organisation and sector-specific expertise have all been essential in helping us get to this stage, and will help us to grow and develop in the future.”

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