Yorkshire science innovation success – from academics to entrepreneurs…

The scheme provided business training – via workshops on topics such as financial management, leadership and intellectual property – as well as mentoring with senior industry experts, thus supporting the researchers in identifying and exploiting the commercial potential of their work.

All of the Fellowships have now finished, but the projects continue on with the support of the host institutions and staff here at YTKO. With Yorkshire Forward’s initial support, the aim was to secure at least £3m additional levered funds. In December 2009 the scheme had already smashed the target, and by June of this year the programme achieved £4.1 m in levered funding for the participating universities.

Academics across bioscience, healthcare technology and chemicals industries, were invited from the region’s nine universities and NHS trusts to apply to join the programme on a part-time basis.

University of Sheffield academic Professor Graham Pockley, is just one of the academics whose experience of the YEF programme gave him the inspiration and enterprising skills to utilise his scientific research to set up in business. Chromocyte Ltd, which launched this July, is an online resource to aid researchers to plan experiments that analyse cells using a technique called flow cytometry.

Not only is the Chromocyte website a tool for sourcing the necessary supplies for flow cytmometry, but it also provides a unique educational and communication environment, allowing researchers to access training, share knowledge and troubleshoot online. Professor Pockley was encouraged to establish the company during his time on the Yorkshire Enterprise Fellowship programme.

“My time on the YEF scheme was invaluable in helping me to step out of my comfort zone as an academic and consider a new challenge,” Professor Hockley commented. “Although the financial support provided by the YEF scheme was essential for making the first steps towards the establishment of Chromocyte, the true value of the Fellowship was the seminar programme and the direct exposure to experts in all aspects of company development and entrepreneurship which it facilitated.”

“Chromocyte is a unique endeavour as it combines my extensive experience in the use of flow cytometry and insight into the needs of the ‘user community’, with the accomplished commercial leadership and biotechnology consultancy skills of Tim Bernard of Pivotal Scientific, who is highly experienced and regarded in the flow cytometry re-agents business sector.’

Chromocyte has already attracted the interest of commercial sponsors: “I really like the website – it is intuitive, user friendly and I believe it will be of significant value to the scientific community,” states Dr Brian Carpenter (Sales and Marketing Manager at Innova Biosciences).

Dr Suzanne Emmett, YEF Director, commented: “The launch of Chromocyte is yet another success story from one of the Enterprise Fellows. It’s rewarding to see new companies start up in the region and we’re glad that Graham got real value from the programme.”

Jim Farmery, Assistant Director of Business at Yorkshire Forward, said: “The success of Chromocyte is another example of the excellent work carried out through the YEF Programme over the last few years. As well as the obvious benefits of the financial support available to potential start-up businesses, the YEF also offers the chance to meet and discuss ideas with peers, and this experience can be invaluable to those looking to start a new business.”

For those interested in learning more about the commercialisation of intellectual property, YTKO have published a book, IProfit. For more information, please contact info@yef.org.uk.