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Cenamps, a national centre for emerging technologies, today announced that EnFACE, one of the projects it has supported, has received a £90,000 investment towards a development that could make airbags in cars more intelligent and even create a greener alternative to the rechargeable batteries that power mobile phones and laptops.
The investment comes from NorthStar Equity Investors through its Proof of Concept Fund and will further boost to the project which is being undertaken at Newcastle University. EnFACE is pioneering techniques to apply micro and nano-level patterns to medical implants such as hip replacements, where tissue adhesion can be improved and the success rate of operations can be increased.
The new money will allow EnFACE to investigate the application of its techniques onto a broader range of products, such as airbags which can sense danger rather than requiring an impact to inflate, or portable energy cells that could replace rechargeable batteries.
EnFACE's nano and micro level patterns can speed up the process of manufacturing the portable energy systems that power electric goods. These systems use fewer raw materials and thus reduce cost and offer a more environmentally-friendly alternative to nickel-cadmium batteries, which use more toxic materials when being produced.
Professor Sudipta Roy of EnFACE said: "This funding represents a major step forward in our work. Early indications show that there are huge benefits of the technique for the medical implant sector. Now we are looking at a variety of other uses. We are currently identifying potential market areas, but already know that our method of manufacturing energy is cheaper than the present process of making micro fuel cells.
Dr. Mike Pitkethly, Chief Executive of Cenamps, said: "The wide variety of market areas to which the EnFACE technology can be applied is an example of the massive potential that nanotechnology offers our society. The investment made in EnFACE is testament to the potential inherent in such technology and also the vibrant hub of nanotechnology expertise in North East England."
Dr Richard Exley, Head of the Proof of Concept Fund at NorthStar Equity Investors says: "North East England is growing some very exciting high-tech start-ups and EnFACE is one of those with the greatest potential. We are delighted to help them to further develop their commercial applications, and to work with Cenamps and Newcastle University on this opportunity."
EnFACE won Cenamps' 2006 ‘Angels Den' competition, held at Nanomed and, as a result, has since received expert advice from Jerel Whittingham, Managing Director of Amphion Innovations UK, who has helped companies such as Beijing Med-Pharm, Medisense, and WellGen become global success stories.
Cenamps is the Centre of Excellence for Nano, Micro and Photonic Systems and is funded by One NorthEast, the area’s regional development agency.
Cenamps’ remit is to attract to the North East business-driven R&D, accelerate technology commercialisation and support early stage investment, infrastructure development and knowledge management to entrepreneurs, researchers, investors and established companies wishing to explore and exploit the commercial opportunities offered by advances in small-scale technology.
Cenamps receives support through the European Regional Development Fund to regenerate the North East England region and create a vibrant economy. Cenamps works with universities, businesses and government organisations to stimulate and manage market driven R&D activities.
About NorthStar Equity Investors
NorthStar Equity Investors invests in high growth and technology-based companies in the NE region.
NorthStar Equity Investors manages two funds for the North East region, totalling £33m.
– The £10m Proof of Concept Fund, funded by One North East and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which can provide up to £90,000 investment
– The £23m Co-Investment Fund, funded by the ERDF, which can provide between £100,000 to £1 million investment
NorthStar Equity Investors is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.
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