Intellectual Property case studies

Pulsiv Solar Limited 

Dr Mohamed Zaki Ahmed (School of Computing, Electronics and Mathematics) 

Spin-out company with 47% shareholding by the University (University of Plymouth Enterprise Limited (UoPEL)). Based at Plymouth Science Park, the company was created to exploit the commercialisation of pulsed-energy extraction techniques, developed by Dr Ahmed, from standard solar PV panels. 

First round investment of c£500k (pre-trading) completed in September 2015. 

The University currently supports 3 patent families in support of this venture, which are presently licensed to the company. Furthermore, the company has a Collaboration agreement and Option agreement with a large energy supplier, globally, for two live demonstrator sites for the next 24 months.

PoreXpert Limited 

Professor Peter Matthews (School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences)

Spin-out company with 35% shareholding by University (University of Plymouth Enterprise Limited (UoPEL). Incorporated in September 2012 to exploit porosimetry software, developed at the University.

Established techniques for porosimetry (the measurement of porosity) are highly specialised, costly, slow and hardware based. Porexpert software offers a novel approach, enabling the user to model materials and structures in 3D against a range of parameters in quick time – offering a valuable tool to industry.

Currently, seeking first round funding opportunity.

UAEOcean 

Professor Georgy Shapiro (School of Marine Science and Engineering) 

The UAEOcean project is a £4m contract research and software development project with Naval Advanced Solutions LLC (NAS) on behalf of the UAE Government, to create a turn-key solution providing a National Oceanographic forecasting centre in Abu Dhabi.

This is a 5.5 year project, which commenced in November 2014, utilising the intellectual capital (copyright materials) within the University’s Ocean Forecasting centre based at the University, with key sub-contractors including the Met Office and the National Oceanography Centre in Liverpool.

Patient Recorded Outcome Scales

Professor Jeremy Hobart (Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry)

Copyright licences for a range of Multiple-Sclerosis Patient Related Outcome (PRO) measures have raised £360k in licence income over the past 3 year. The PRO measures are used in clinical trials to determine the efficacy of drugs on improving or delaying disease onset. The licence revenue is shared between the Institutions that created the PRO measures.

Academics at Plymouth have the choice of either taking such licence revenue as salary or using the income for research. In this case all the Plymouth income is used by Professor Hobart to support his research at the MS Unit.

Viral Vaccines 

Dr Michael Jarvis (Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry)

The vaccines can be targeted against a wide variety of virus diseases with specific interest at the present time in treatments for Ebola, TB, AIDS and swine fever. Three patent applications have been filed (just entering PCT phase) and are the result of collaborations with several different institutes in the US. Plymouth has led on the filing of the patent applications. The patent application filing has been done to ensure that publications are not delayed or compromised. The patent portfolio covers:

  • specific vector constructs; 
  • a method to destabilise the vector once immunity has been achieved; and
  • a cloning system that allows large DNA sequences to be cloned without the need for DNA polymerisation which can introduce sequence errors. 
The collaborative research is continuing and different funding sources are being applied for.

Water Quality Testing 

Professor Simon Jackson (School of Biomedical & Healthcare Sciences) 

The University filed a patent application on the work of three academics in the School of Biomedical & Healthcare Sciences. The invention is for the detection of faecal indicator bacteria in water, with specific interest in sea water bathing quality. Anas Sattar who was a PhD student at the time of the invention has secured a young researcher award to carry out 3 months market assessment of the invention through funding through the ICURe Innovation-to-Commercialisation programme (piloted by the ‘Set-Squared’ partnership) to develop a testing regime for sea-water quality.

Robotic Larynx 

Dr Ian Howard (School of Computing, Electronics and Mathematics)

Utilising internal funding to build a prototype robotic larynx. A patent application was filed in February 2016. This will be the only robotic voice box in Europe – main competition is from groups in Japan. Several technical problems have been overcome in the creation of the robotic voice box and it is these that form the basis of the filed patent application and will form the basis of a least one further filing.

Getting the voice box to work is a good demonstration of a research model in which some more basic problems have to be addressed and solved, where the solutions could be used in a broader field than the originating research project. The robotic voice box when complete will provide a valuable research tool to inform us on the production of speech, and it is envisaged that it will help inform the creation of voice simulation software.