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Developing a technology and selling a product are two very different processes, which require very different skill sets. The EU is supporting commercial exploitation of scientific results in nanotechnologies.
UK based MAST Carbon has received such service and its new biomedical carbons will soon reach the market through the EU-funded the ProNano project. Orion Innovations is a business consultancy that provides strategic and operational support to innovators, businesses and public sector organisations in the cleantech sector. Along with fellow ProNano partner and early stage investment specialist, Angel Capital Innovations, Orion Innovations has been advising and coaching MAST Carbon for almost two years now.
"What we have been discussing within ProNano is how we took the company forward in a general sense. We are research and development people, and that doesn't fit easily with doing marketing and sales" says Steve Tennison, MAST Carbon's director. "Orion has helped us focus on what would be better for the company to concentrate on".
"When we first engaged with MAST Carbon they had many opportunities for commercialization but because they hadn't prioritized them or recognized that they needed to be treated as separate business entities, all were being progressed in parallel and none were receiving adequate attention", recalls Noel Botha from Orion Innovations. "We helped them to work out how they could commercialize their technology and which approach they should take, whether through in-house venturing, licensing or new business spin-out, and to put in place plans to do so".
This input has led MAST Carbon to decide to establish a spin out company specifically to commercialize its biomedical carbons, which could be used, among others, for wound treatment and for blood filtration. "Moreover, Orion put us in contact with people to take this forward ", Tennison points out. The new company, Acesco Health, is just being established and both MAST Carbon and Orion do not want to go into details yet. Anyway the idea is to have a separate company with a completely new management team. MAST Carbon will provide it with materials and technical advice. "In future we might go down the same route for other areas of application as well", Tennison says.
For Botha, the biggest challenge in bringing MAST Carbon's products to the market was "one that is common for all the nanotech projects which we are working on, that is where to focus first when you have one technology with multiple applications. "Hopefully, MAST Carbon", he concludes ,"will prove to be a success story that others can look at in that space, and a template for other platform technologies not only in nanotech but in any technology with multiple applications".
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