Drones, swabs and robotic dogs feature in latest Future Innovators Programme tour

We were pleased to be joined by students from Cardinal Heenan School in West Derby as part of our Future Innovators Programme.

The programme encourages young people to learn about the innovation, science and technology career opportunities available in KQ Liverpool, with an aim of creating tangible aspirations. The programme works with Secondary school pupils and their career leads, physically bringing them into previously unopened areas within KQ Liverpool to demonstrate what’s on offer right on their doorstep.

The group of Sixth Form students took part in a tour of several facilities and were able to experience first-hand the incredible variety of innovation that takes place in our innovation district.

The day-long tour included visits to iiCON at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Digital Innovation Facility at University of Liverpool, Manufacturing Technology Centre at Liverpool Science Park and LJMU Built Environment, where a range of experts were on hand to kindly give their time to explain the work their organisations undertake and some of the career opportunities available within KQ Liverpool.

 

 

New £1.5 million novel technologies initiative launches to accelerate new approaches to infection transmission

Companies and research groups with novel solutions to tackle infection transmission will have the opportunity to shape the direction of the UK’s infection response and bid for funding through a new initiative to stimulate innovation.

The Infection Innovation Consortium: iiCON, a consortium led by Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, has been appointed by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to deliver the new project.

The consortium will bring together and support the formation of diverse cross-disciplinary networks to propel the development of new concepts and solutions that leverage disruptive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), digital and automation, advanced humanised infection models, and novel diagnostics to combat the spread of infection.

Professor Janet Hemingway, founding director of iiCON, said:

“Combatting the transmission of infection is one of the key health challenges of our time, and one that is growing in urgency. As such, it’s critical that we leverage novel, disruptive technology to drive forward our collective efforts to tackle the spread of infection. We are particularly keen to engage individuals and companies who have not previously worked in this area.

“We hope this exciting programme will spark the formation of new cross-disciplinary networks and support participants to shape the future direction of our response to infection transmission – bringing forward novel concepts and approaches that may hold the key to unlocking this critical issue.”

 

Companies and groups will have the opportunity to apply to take part in two ‘sandpit’ events held in Liverpool on March 14th and London on May 9th. These intensive innovation workshop sessions will help to spark ideas, foster innovation, and create new collaborative approaches to tackle this urgent challenge and drive forward novel projects.

Complementing the work of UKRI’s flagship AMR and epidemic preparedness programmes, the sandpits will look to pump-prime radical new approaches to tackling infections by engaging new communities and capabilities with the challenge.

The programme is supported with £1.5 million funding from UKRI to bring new research communities together and support feasibility studies. The sandpits will shape the call for funding pots of £50,000 to £150,000 to test disruptive approaches to tackling infections. Network support grants of up to £50,000 will also be available.

The development of new antibiotics and companion diagnostics are out of scope for the new fund, as these are covered by the recently announced PACE initiative.

To find out more and register interest in taking part in the sandpit events being held in March and May, please visit: www.infectioninnovation.com/ukri-sandpit

iiCON strengthens team following ongoing growth

iiCON, led by Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), is comprised of partners Unilever, Liverpool University Hospitals Foundation Trust, University of Liverpool, LifeArc, Evotec, and Infex Therapeutics.

The c£250 million programme brings together industry, academia, and clinicians to accelerate the discovery, development and deployment of new treatments and innovations– saving and improving millions of lives globally through collaborative innovation.

Following the ongoing growth of the programme, iiCON has appointed a new Senior Programme Manager, Gillian Kyalo, who works closely with iiCON’s founding Director Professor Janet Hemingway to oversee and support the smooth running of the programme. Gillian brings over 20 years’ experience managing complex global International Public Health projects for international consortia and organisations including the United Nations, the European Union, UK Research Councils, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The consortium has also welcomed a new Business Development Manager, Dr Lizzie Crawford, who will focus on fostering strategic relationships and driving commercial partnerships for translational research. Lizzie will work with iiCON’s business development team to engage with companies looking to connect into iiCON’s platforms to support their research and development needs.

With a strong scientific background as a pharmacologist and a Ph.D in molecular and cell biology, Lizzie also has experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. She spent nine years in technology transfer at the University of Manchester playing a pivotal role in supporting translational research, facilitating licence negotiations and establishing successful spin-out companies. Her expertise spans the full lifecycle of research projects from inception to licence agreements within the complex landscape of academia-industry collaborations. Lizzie is also the founder of a digital health spin out company, with experience across all aspects of the start-up process, including business planning, fundraising, partnership development and regulatory planning, providing a solid understanding of the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

iiCON has also strengthened its core team, welcoming a new finance manager, Lauren Thistlethwaite; programme manager Rose Lopeman; project administrators, Amy Collins, and Alexandra Pendleton; data analyst Jolene Dunlop, and senior finance business partner Laura Carney, to support operational activity across the dynamic consortium, which operates across ten platforms of activity.

Professor Janet Hemingway, founding Director of iiCON, said:

“We’re very pleased to have welcomed a number of new faces to the iiCON team, each one bringing particular skills and expertise.

“As iiCON continues to attract investment and expand activity across our platforms, the complementary experience and specialist sector knowledge within our team means we are well equipped to continue to develop and support long-lasting strategic commercial partnerships; collaborating effectively with diverse stakeholder groups to drive forward the programme – enabling world-leading infection R&D.”

New UK partnership and research fund aims to tackle infectious diseases

  • Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) and self-funded charitable medical research organisation, LifeArc, are partnering to launch a new Translational Development Fund to help tackle infectious diseases.
  • LifeArc will invest £2.7 million into the fund, which will support the progression of new technologies and treatments for emerging viral threats and neglected tropical diseases.
  • LifeArc will also join the LSTM-led Infection Innovation Consortium: iiCON, making its platform to progress antibody-based treatments available to partners.
  • The partnership aims to help address the urgent need for new approaches to infectious diseases, which cause millions of deaths globally each year, with numbers escalating due to factors such as climate change.

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) has entered into a partnership with the self-funded charitable medical research organisation, LifeArc, which will join the LSTM-led Infection Innovation Consortium: iiCON and establish a £2.7m Translational Development Fund.

The research fund is being set up in response to a growing need for new and innovative treatments and diagnostic technologies to help tackle growing threats to health across the globe, including neglected tropical diseases and emerging viral threats.

The COVID pandemic highlighted the impact new viruses can have on our society and this new fund will support the progression of potential interventions, including diagnostics, treatments and devices. Infectious diseases currently cause millions of deaths globally each year with the impact expected to worsen due to factors such as climate change, migration and intensive farming.

The fund will be available to LSTM and iiCON partners and their collaborators, including research organisations in low- and middle- income countries (LMICs), and will have a focus supporting interventions that are appropriately aligned with deployment and treatment of patients in LMICs.

As well as the fund investment, LifeArc will make its antibody humanisation platform available to iiCON and its collaborators, to support the development of new potential treatments. Antibodies can trigger the immune system to help treat disease, and this platform enables promising antibodies from lab research to be modified, so that they can be used in people. LifeArc’s expertise and track record of success has helped transform the way many conditions are treated, with more than 90 antibodies humanised over the past 30 years, contributing to five licenced medicines.

LifeArc’s expertise will be made available commercially to any organisation domestically or internationally via a new platform at iiCON. This platform has been designed to provide partners and researchers in the field with streamlined access to LifeArc’s leading capabilities.

iiCON is a consortium led by LSTM with core partners including LifeArc, Unilever, Evotec, Liverpool University Hospitals Foundation Trust, University of Liverpool, and Infex Therapeutics. The c£250 million programme brings together industry, academia, and clinicians to accelerate the discovery, development and deployment of new treatments and innovations– saving and improving millions of lives through collaborative innovation.

Professor David Lalloo, Director of Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine said:

“This Translational Development Fund will not only help us to tackle the true diseases of poverty that impact the lives of some of the world’s poorest communities, but also allow us to prepare for the emerging threats of the future. This partnership between LSTM, LifeArc and iiCON will provide a number of significant opportunities for businesses, researchers and clinicians working in the antibody humanisation space and beyond. Facilitating access to advanced capabilities and new collaborations in this way will be a real boost to getting new therapies to market by helping overcome development obstacles and unlocking the potential of new innovations.”

Professor Janet Hemingway, Founding Director of the Infection Innovation Consortium: iiCON, said:

“Working with LifeArc to create a new platform focused on antibody humanisation marks an exciting milestone for both iiCON and for the development of tomorrow’s medical therapies. Our approaches to infectious disease research, prevention, and control are very closely aligned and we’re looking forward to seeing the vital breakthroughs that this collaboration will progress.

“The partnership with LifeArc underlines a core aspect of our mission at iiCON, which is to connect the dots across the health and life sciences sector to ensure that the best ideas and the newest technologies get the support they need to achieve significant, real-world results.”

Dr Mike Strange, Head of Global Health at LifeArc, said:

“LifeArc is committed to investing over £100 million in global health, with a focus on infectious diseases, over the coming years. We are delighted that partnering with LSTM and iiCON is part of this. The consortium’s aim of accelerating the discovery and development of innovative new treatments, diagnostics, and preventative products for infectious diseases, aligns with our own global health strategy. It also mirrors the remit of LifeArc – using translational science to turn lab-based discoveries into medical breakthroughs that can be life-changing for patients.”

“Our work in antibodies has had real impact for patients in other areas and we are pleased that we will also be able offer this platform and expertise to iiCON partners. We look forward to seeing what we can achieve together over the coming years.”

iiCON supports 11 new products to market in first 18 months

iiCON: Infection Innovation Consortium has supported 11 new products to market since launching in September 2020, with a further 16 in the development pipeline.

LSTM spinout iiDiagnostics launched

iiDiagnostics will enable industry engagement and commercial access to the world-leading diagnostics R&D capability and facilities at LSTM.

LSTM reveal plans for infection innovation centre

Plans have been revealed for a new multi-million-pound centre located in Knowledge Quarter Liverpool.

Dr Fiona Marston becomes LSTM’s Entrepreneur in Residence

Dr Fiona Marston is to become LSTM’s Entrepreneur in Residence after being awarded a place on the Royal Society’s scheme for 2021.

LSTM Launches New Transposon Registry

LSTM has launched a new Transposon Registry, which will serve as a repository of information on all bacterial transposons for the scientific community.

LSTM Signs Partnership With Medical Charity

LSTM and the Humanitarian Conflict Response Institute (HCRI) of the University of Manchester have signed a global partnership with a medical charity.