Impact Research and Innovation at the University of Leeds Issue 8
THE BRAGG CENTENARY 2013 FROM BRAGG TO ASTBURY TO TODAY Leeds research at the forefront of molecular biology AIMING HIGHER The new generation of high temperature piezoelectric materials 100 KTPs Leeds Knowledge Transfer Partnership success stories
Impact Research and Innovation at the University of Leeds Issue 8
THE BRAGG CENTENARY 1913-2013 FROM BRAGG TO ASTBURY TO TODAY Leeds research at the forefront of molecular biology AIMING HIGHER The new generation of high temperature piezoelectric materials 100 KTPs Leeds Knowledge Transfer Partnership success stories
A spotlight on Research and Innovation at the University of Leeds ÂŠ University of Leeds 2013 Steering Group: Professor David Hogg Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research & Innovation Martin Holmes Marketing Director Kathy Brownridge Director, Research & Innovation Service Paul Barrett Strategic Marketing Manager Sue Underwood Head of Communications Production Communications and Press Office Written by: campuspr Ltd, Paul Barrett and Communications and Press Office Designed by: Leigh Marklew, Communications Selected Photography: Simon and Simon Photography Edited by: Paul Barrett Visit the Impact website at www.leeds.ac.uk/impact This publication is available in other formats. Please contact Paul Barrett email: firstname.lastname@example.org Front cover image: DNA molecule, artwork (Science Photo Library)
University of Leeds
THE BRAGG CENTENARY 2013 The impact of the Braggs' breakthrough continues to be felt deeply across the University of Leeds and beyond.
FROM BRAGG TO ASTBURY TO TODAY Since the 1930s Leeds has been at the forefront of molecular biology. Work at the Astbury Centre today continues to make groundbreaking discoveries.
UNDERSTANDING CANCER Research carried out at Leeds is providing new targets for therapies for a range of cancers.
MAKING A MATERIAL DIFFERENCE Leeds engineers use X-ray diffraction to understand how crystal structure controls the properties of materials - with benefits across a host of industry applications.
AIMING HIGHER New piezelectric materials which work at far higher temperatures are exciting the aerospace industry and beyond.
20 22 26
35 38 42
PARTNERING FOR GROWTH Leeds has been an active partner in 100 Knowledge Transfer Projects to date – with some notable successes.
SOAP STORY SUCCESS The growing partnership between the University and consumer products giant Procter & Gamble has delivered benefits for both.
SPEEDING UP DRUG DEVELOPMENT Better treatments for Glioblastoma are progressing, thanks to an innovative partnership between the Medical Research Council, AstraZeneca and Leeds researchers.
MAPPING THE UNDERWORLD Four million holes are dug in the nation's roads each year - a Leeds project to map what's happening could drastically reduce this, with major benefits.
THE AMAZON FOR BUSINESS Leeds spin-out and online procurement leader Science Warehouse is growing fast and reaching out to new sectors.
MAPPING THE ROUTE AHEAD Research at the School of Civil Engineering is shaping the way major infrastructure projects are managed in the UK.
CROSS-CULTURAL ATTRACTION Cultural and Creative Industries are big business - and the University's CCI Exchange is brokering an array of fruitful collaboration opportunities.
EXPERIENCING DANTE'S FLORENCE Leeds research is directly benefitting the economy of one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations: the capital city of Tuscany – Florence
AN INNOVATIVE APPROACH TO MEDICAL DEVICES Leeds has a history of research excellence when it comes to medical devices and regenerative therapies, with ambitious plans for the future. 3
The Bragg Centenarary
u William Henry Bragg with his spectrometer, C 1910. E. O. Hoppe/Hulton Archive/Getty Images q 'The Braggs' legacy can stilll be felt today, at Leeds and beyond' says Professor David Hogg. William Lawrence Bragg, 1920s Collection: SSPL Photographer: Science & Society Picture Library
THE BRAGG CENTENARY 2013 – CELEBRATING A GREAT BRITISH INNOVATION In 1912-13 physicists William Bragg (18621942) and his son William Lawrence (18901971) worked out a formula that linked the X-ray diffraction pattern with a crystal’s atomic structure. In a series of experiments at the University of Leeds over the next year, they used their new X-ray spectrometer to produce molecular analyses of materials, including diamond and rock salt. Their discovery, known as X-ray crystallography, is still the most accurate technique to determine the structure of materials at the atomic level. For this, the Braggs won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1915. To date, William Lawrence Bragg remains the youngest Nobel Laureate. To commemorate the pioneering work undertaken by the Braggs, the University has developed a programme of events to commemorate the centenary of this remarkable achievement – details of which can be found at www.leeds.ac.uk/bragg100 I am also delighted to introduce this special edition of Impact, which highlights several areas of research excellence at Leeds which continue to draw on the Braggs’ legacy today. The X-ray crystallography technique the Braggs developed has been enormously significant, both in academic research and more widely in industry. Although scientists previously had known that molecules were made up of atoms, they had no way of knowing how, exactly, those atoms were arranged in space. The Braggs showed that X-rays - still relatively new to science - held the key.
The Braggs exhibited a deep appreciation and enthusiasm for the application of academic science to industrial problems, something which resonates greatly today with the increasing focus on demonstrating the impact the work of universities has on the wider world. They made immense contributions to our knowledge of chemical structure and were remarkably perceptive of the potential future applications of X-ray crystallography. It is one of the most widely used analytical techniques in science and engineering and has been fundamental to the development of various scientific fields within industry, including microelectronics, pharmaceuticals, aerospace and power generation. Indeed in a recent poll the public were asked to vote for the most important innovation in science and technology from the last 100 years. X-ray crystallography came in a highly creditable third place, polling thousands of votes. The results of the Great British Innovations Survey can be found at www.topbritishinnovations.org From understanding the molecular basis of life in the pioneering work of the Astbury Centre, to examining the properties of myriad materials in the School of Process, Environmental and Material Engineering (SPEME) where X-ray diffraction is used on a daily basis, their influence and impact continues to be felt deeply across the University of Leeds and beyond. I hope you enjoy finding out more about their legacy. Professor David Hogg Pro-Vice-Chancellor Research & Innovation
Celebrating a Great British Innovation
University of Leeds
THE BRAGG CENTENARY PLAQUE MARKS BIRTHPLACE OF X-RAY CRYSTALLOGRAPHY A plaque celebrating Nobel Prize-winning research at the University of Leeds that revealed the structure of crystals and revolutionised science has been unveiled at the house where it all began. The development of X-ray crystallography by William Henry Bragg, Cavendish Professor of Physics at the University of Leeds (1908-1915), and his son William Lawrence Bragg, then a research scientist at Cambridge, paved the way for ground-breaking discoveries in the physical sciences, biology, engineering and medicine, including Watson and Crick’s work on the structure of DNA. The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds, senior academics, and Bragg family members attended the unveiling on July 5 of a blue plaque at Whin Brow, the house at Cloughton, near Scarborough, where the father-and-son team were holidaying when their collaboration began.
The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Michael Arthur, said: “We are immensely proud that the University of Leeds was the birthplace of X-ray crystallography, which continues to play an important role in modern science. It is wonderful to come here today and see the place where William Henry Bragg and William Lawrence Bragg were inspired to begin the research that led to their discovery.” The Braggs were staying at Whin Brow at the invitation of family friends when they began discussing a letter from a former student of William Henry Bragg about experiments by Max Laue in Germany showing that x-rays were diffracted by crystals. The X-ray crystallography technique that the Braggs developed over the next two years allowed scientists to peer into the atomic structure of crystals by looking at the patterns made by the diffraction. Charles Bragg, a direct descendant of the father-and-son duo, who unveiled the plaque, said: “It is a great honour to unveil the plaque at Whin Brow, where my grandfather and greatgrandfather spent their summer holiday in 1912 discussing the recent discovery of X-ray photography by Laue.
“Their work, which followed this trip, was a true partnership, with William Henry Bragg’s great experimental ability and his skill at developing sophisticated equipment at the University of Leeds, which William Lawrence Bragg then used to derive many atomic structures,” he added. At least 20 Nobel Prizes in physics, biology, chemistry and medicine, including momentous discoveries such as the structures of DNA, haemoglobin and insulin, have relied on the technique. The Braggs were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1915–the only father and son ever to have won the honour. q Pictured at the unveiling, left to right – Dr Chris Hammond, Life Fellow in Material Science at the University of Leeds; Linda Pollard, Pro-Chancellor of the University; Charles Bragg, the great-grandson of William Henry Bragg; Professor Michael Arthur, Vice-Chancellor of the University.
An innovative approach The Bragg to medical Centenarary devices
NEWS THE BRAGG CENTENARY LECTURE 2013 QUASI-PERIODIC CRYSTALS â€“ A PARADIGM SHIFT IN CRYSTALLOGRAPHY The centenary of the pioneering work undertaken by William Henry Bragg and his son, William Lawrence Bragg, which helped to develop X-ray crystal structural analysis, is being celebrated by a series of special events. The celebrations will culminate with the Bragg Centenary Lecture, delivered by Nobel Laureate Professor Dan Shechtman. For years, the scientific community said Professor Shechtman had to be wrong. Scientists believed that crystals in materials all contained repeating patterns. In 1982, Dan Shechtman discovered regular, but non-repeating patterns. He discovered Quasiperiodic Crystals. The scientific community initially rejected Dan Shechtman's findings. Indeed it took almost a decade for his discovery to be accepted by most crystallographers.
Finally, the pattern which had previously been considered contrary to the laws of nature was observed with the help of the electron microscope. Quasi-periodic materials have since developed into an exciting interdisciplinary science, and Professor Shechtman was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2011 for his breakthrough.
The event will take place at the Rupert Beckett Lecture Theatre on Thursday 21 November 2013, beginning at 6pm with an introduction by the new Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds, Sir Alan Langlands.
Professor Shechtman will visit the University of Leeds on 21 November 2013 to deliver a special guest Lecture which will mark the culmination of our year of events celebrating the Bragg Centenary.
Please note: Attendance at the Lecture will be by invitation only initially, but if you are interested in attending please email email@example.com Should any places become available we will be in touch.
The Bragg Lecture will see Professor Shechtman outline the importance of his discovery, his struggle for acceptance and the vital role electron microscopy plays in this remarkable story, linking his achievements back to the Braggsâ€™ role in the birth of crystallography here at Leeds in 1912/13.
Registration will be at Parkinson Court from 5pm.
Visit www.leeds.ac.uk/bragg100 to find out more. q Professor Dan Shechtman will deliver the Bragg Centenary Lecture at the University of Leeds.
The Bragg Centenarary
u Dr Thomas Edwards and colleagues use X-ray crystallography to further understanding of the biology of viruses including the Schmallenberg virus - which has had a devastating effect on cattle, sheep and goats across northern Europe. Image: with thanks to Cannon Hall Farm, Cawthorne, Yorkshire
FROM BRAGG TO AS Where Bragg had shown the structure of sodium chloride through his experiments, William Astbury, who joined the University of Leeds in the late 1920s and remained there until the 1960s, defined two molecular structures that have formed the basis of numerous other scientific discoveries. Probably the most famous of these is the solving of the structure of DNA by Watson and Crick in 1953, which provided undeniable evidence of the importance of molecular structure in understanding molecular function. Dr Thomas Edwards is a leading researcher at the University’s Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology. He explains: “The work of Bragg, followed by Astbury and then Watson and Crick has collectively laid the foundation of modern structural molecular biology,” he says.
The work of the Braggs, followed by Astbury and then Watson and Crick, has collectively laid the foundation of modern structural molecular biology
What Dr Edwards means is that if a normal structure can be determined, scientists can view the normal structure and then compare that to the structure of a malfunctioning or misfolded protein, which can cause disease. In understanding these processes and the structures behind what happens in diseased cells, potential therapies can be sought by finding ways to combat misbehaving cellular processes. “Probably the biggest impact of the work done by Bragg and later by Astbury, is in structure-based drug design,” says Dr Edwards.
Dr Thomas Edwards
“Macromolecules, which are large molecules made up of complex smaller units all stuck together - for example proteins are made up of chains of amino acids - are critical to life and understanding their structures is important for a number of reasons.”
“A good analogy for this is thinking about locks and keys. If you had a lock, but didn’t have a key to fit it, being able to see it and its internal structure in 3D would allow you to design a key to fit it. Understanding mechanisms helps us understand problems and also identify potential solutions.”
In particular, X-ray crystallography is having a huge impact on research in the area of anti-microbials, agents that are used to kill microorganisms that cause diseases. One major research project being led by Dr Alex O’Neill is determining the mechanisms of antibiotic resistance in Staphylococcus aureus, bacteria which causes a range of infections – from skin infections through to pneumonia – and which is a major cause of hospital acquired infections across the globe. “There’s a huge requirement for new antibiotics,” says Dr Edwards.
From Bragg to Astbury to today
STBURY TO TODAY Since the 1930s, the University of Leeds has been at the forefront of molecular biology thanks to William Astbury, who used Braggâ€™s X-ray diffraction to determine and define molecular structures which are crucial to our understanding of life on a molecular level. More than 80 years later, Astburyâ€™s influence can still be felt at Leeds, where a specialised research centre continues to make ground-breaking discoveries.
“Many antibiotics have been on the market for a number of years and resistance to them is becoming more prevalent.” Having determined the structure of proteins that allow the bacteria to be resistant to fusidic acid, a common antibacterial agent, Dr O’Neill’s research is now looking to design new antibiotics which are based on fusidic acid, but don’t have the same association with the development of resistance. “By determining these protein structures, we’re able to explore the details of how resistance occurs,” says Dr Edwards. “We’re really hopeful that this fundamental understanding will pave the way for designing similar antibiotics, but with superior properties.” Another project which has X-ray crystallography at its core is understanding the biology of viruses, specifically those composed of RNA - ribonucleic acid – which, alongside DNA and proteins, are essential for all forms of life. Dr Edwards, along with colleague Dr John Barr, has solved the structure of two RNA viral proteins so far: the nucleocapsid protein from the virus responsible for Crimean–Congo haemorrhagic fever, a fatal disease that is endemic in Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East and Asia, and the nucleocapsid protein from Schmallenberg virus, which is currently having a devastating effect on cattle, sheep and goats across Northern Europe. In 2013 in the UK, thousands of lambs have been stillborn as a result of the Schmallenberg virus. The nucleocapsid proteins protect the RNA of these viruses both in the virus particles, and in infected cells. Dr Barr says, “We’ve discovered that the nucleocapsid protein forms a chain a bit like a necklace that wraps around the RNA, the genetic material of the virus. This chain also recruits other proteins that are vital to the virus’ ability to replicate. We have developed a very finely detailed picture of the shape of the protein and all the nooks and crannies that it needs to be able to function.” Through the identification of the structure of this protein, the Astbury Centre researchers believe they may have found a chink in the armour of the virus. Dr Edwards says: “Having determined the structure and because we can now see how it recruits other viral proteins, we think we can find a way to disrupt this process. We are now designing small molecules which would stop the creation of this protective ring, which would effectively kill the virus, and could be engineered into an effective antiviral drug.”
From Bragg to Astbury to today
New target for global killer Researchers in the School of Chemistry are working to develop a new drug for treatment of malaria, a disease which kills hundreds of thousands of people each year, affecting more than 200 million people globally. Malaria has become increasingly resistant to traditional therapies and is particularly prevalent in developing nations.
One of the challenges in this research was in designing a small molecule that would target the enzyme without interfering with the same enzyme in humans. “Mammals have similar enzymes to those found in Plasmodium,” says Professor Johnson. “So we needed to find an inhibitor that wouldn’t interfere with the human form of the same enzyme.”
Professors Peter Johnson and Colin Fishwick from the Department of Chemistry have used the 3D structure, determined by protein crystallography, of an enzyme which is essential to the survival of the parasite Plasmodium, the cause of malaria. Using this structure, they have designed a family of small molecules which inhibit the activity of the enzyme, thereby blocking the parasite’s ability to grow and ultimately leading to its death.
The small molecule compound is currently going through the patenting process and Professors Fishwick and Johnson have received funding from the University’s Pharmaceutical and Biopharmaceutical Innovation Sector Hub, which brings together expertise to pioneer innovative approaches to drug discovery.
Using software unique to the University of Leeds, the research team were able to take the characterised protein and model crystal structures in their search for the inhibitor. “What we’ve done which is special is to apply our bespoke molecular design software to crystal structures of the DHODH enzyme from the malaria parasites,” says Professor Fishwick. “This has resulted in an incredibly promising series of potential drug leads, which we’ve shown work effectively.”
More than 200 million people are affected globally by malaria.
“It’s going really well at the moment and we’re confident about developing the compound to a point where we will need to look for a drug company partner,” says Professor Fishwick. “It’s early days yet, but it’s certainly a promising discovery in the hunt for better therapies for malaria.”
UNDERSTANDING CANCER Research being carried out at Leeds is providing new targets for therapies for a range of cancers, from breast and lung cancer through to small cell lung carcinoma. The University of Leeds is host to a raft of research projects focused on developing our fundamental understanding of cancer and identifying potential ways in which the processes that take place in the growth of a cancer can be reversed or prevented. X-ray crystallography plays a major role in much of this research, providing scientists with the means to identify and examine 3D structures, something which is crucial to our understanding of how cancers operate, allowing for the identification of new drug targets. “If we can see the 3D structure and understand through this how cancer cells are growing and dividing, we can look for ways to disrupt these processes and stop the cancer growing,” says Dr Thomas Edwards of the Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology. Across the University projects are focusing on a range of different approaches and different types of cancer. All cancers occur when things go wrong inside our cells and whilst every cell in our bodies contains a copy of our DNA, it’s proteins which act as the on-off switches for our different genes and are therefore fundamental to how our cells normally operate as well as the switch to cancer. Dr Edwards is a collaborator in a key research project headed up by Professor Andrew Wilson from the School of Chemistry. This project is examining methods to modulate protein-protein interactions, which occur when two or more proteins bind together to carry out a particular function. The €1 million research project has been funded by the European Research Council.
u A range of approaches has been developed to modulate protein-protein interactions. (Image courtesy of Pharmaceuticals and Biopharmaceuticals Hub).
To now, enzymes have been the major target for cancer drugs but with enzymes making up only a small fraction of cellular proteins, learning how to target biological processes that are mediated by protein-protein interactions provides a greater number of potential drug targets.
“What we’re ultimately interested in is the development of small molecule inhibitors of proteins where they are mutated or overexpressed,” says Professor Wilson. “These particular interactions are difficult to target. Traditional drug therapies use a ‘lock and key’ approach in targeting enzymes, where compounds are designed to fit into a pocket in an enzyme, therefore blocking their actions. Our approach will be more akin to a hand gripping a ball - covering a surface so that it can no longer function.” The major challenge in this research project, which began in 2010 and will continue to 2015, is that identification and disruption of protein-protein interactions is difficult. “If you can imagine twenty keys together, you’d quite easily be able to tell which of twenty locks they’d be likely to fit,” says Professor Wilson. “But if you’ve got twenty apples, it can be difficult to tell them apart.” Professor Wilson and the research team are using X-ray crystallography to study the structures of protein-protein interactions in order to learn more about how these could be targeted. In particular, the team is examining a protein which is overexpressed in around 10 per cent of cancers, including breast and prostate cancer.
Professor Wilson has designed a series of synthetic small molecules which effectively target the interaction. Though it will be some time before new therapies targeting proteinprotein interactions are on the market, the next stage for this particular series of molecules is to secure funding to carry out proof of concept work. Whilst this part of the project continues apace, its overall aim is to establish the generic rules governing the inhibition of protein-protein interactions. This knowledge will provide a much greater range of potential drug targets. New drugs targeting protein-protein interactions might be more effective than their traditional counterparts. “If we can develop a thorough understanding of these interactions and how to block them, we’ll have the ability to potentially target every single protein implicated in cancer and other serious diseases,” says Professor Wilson.
Whilst Professor Wilson is looking at interactions between proteins, others are focusing on determining the fundamental processes behind the development of cancers, whether that’s looking at how viruses hijack their hosts and cause cancer, or defining the structure behind how transcription factors – proteins which switch genes on and off – work.
Traditional drug therapies use a ‘lock and key’ approach in targeting enzymes, where compounds are designed to fit into a pocket in an enzyme, therefore blocking their actions. Our approach will be more akin to a hand gripping a ball covering a surface so that it can no longer function.
And this is just one of the projects housed by the University of Leeds. Researchers are approaching cancer research from a variety of angles.
Professor Andrew Wilson
Researchers at Leeds have found that a gene previously linked to obesity may also increase the risk of malignant melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.
The findings raise questions about whether the FTO gene might be implicated in other diseases. “This is the first time to our knowledge that this gene has been linked to melanoma,” says Dr Iles. “But it might be that future research reveals that it has a role to play in other diseases. It’s clear we don’t know enough about this intriguing gene.” With malignant melanoma being the fifth most common cancer in the UK, these findings may be critical in the search for new targets for the development of drugs for melanoma.
Case study: the FTO Gene
73,000 The Cancer Research UK funded research team analysed data from 73,000 people, made up of 13,000 malignant melanoma patients and 60,000 unaffected people.
Dr Mark Iles from the Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine led the research team, which examined the DNA in a gene called the FTO gene. Variations in part of this gene are known to be the most important genetic risk factor for obesity and overeating. These variants, because they are linked to a high body mass index (BMI), increase the risk of a range of diseases such as diabetes and kidney disease. The Cancer Research UK funded research team analysed data from 73,000 people, made up of 13,000 malignant melanoma patients and 60,000 unaffected people. They found that people with particular variations in a particular stretch of DNA within the FTO gene could be at greater risk of developing melanoma.
Making a meterial difference
u Professor Rik Brydson of the Institute for Materials Research in SPEME, also chairs the SuperSTEM facility at Daresbury.
MAKING A MATERIAL DIFFERENCE
Engineers in the School of Process, Environmental and Materials Engineering (SPEME) use X-ray diffraction to understand the aspects of crystal structure that directly control the properties of materials used in a wide range of applications, from medical imaging to automotive fuel injection and naval sonar, amongst many others. 13
The Bragg Centenarary
Since many materials such as salts, metals and minerals, as well as various inorganic, organic and biological molecules can form crystals, using X-rays to view crystallography has been fundamental in the development of a host of scientific fields. At first, this method determined the size of atoms, the lengths and types of chemical bonds and the atomicscale differences among various materials, especially minerals and alloys. Subsequently, X-ray diffraction has also revealed the structure and function of many biological molecules, including vitamins, drugs, proteins and nucleic acids such as DNA.
Professor Roberts and his colleagues in the Synthonic Engineering research group have designed process-orientated software to assist companies in overcoming common issues associated with crystal formation and the subsequent formulation of crystal into products such as tablets. The software, developed at Leeds in collaboration with the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre (CCDC), is called Visual HABIT. It offers a significant improvement on existing predictive resources and will enable companies to adopt a more ‘bottom up’ approach to the design of products in the pharmaceutical, agrochemical and fuel sectors. The software helps companies Professor Kevin Roberts of the Institute for predict crystal properties in different chemical Particle Science & Engineering in SPEME has environments, something which will reduce used X-rays to monitor crystals as they form. extensive early-stage laboratory research, Understanding how crystals form is crucial bringing down development costs and for the pharmaceutical sector as changes to helping to bring new products to market more crystal morphology means alterations to a drug efficiently. It also has the ability to show what compound’s efficacy and bioavailability and can happens to crystalline particles under different have an effect on the processing environment. processing conditions. X-ray crystallography is an invaluable tool in drug development, where controlling crystal “Being able to see how crystal properties forms is crucial both to cost and product change within different processing safety. “Lawrence Bragg’s use of X-rays to environments is really important, because often probe the structure of crystals revealed the 3D companies have put in years of work before arrangement of molecules within solid-state they even get to this stage,” says Professor materials,” he says. “However, the intensity Roberts. “As chemical engineers, we have to of diffracted X-rays is also directly dependent make sure that the quality of a product remains on the perfection of crystals, so we use this the same in a manufacturing environment as technique to view atomic-scale crystal lattice in the laboratory. It’s a bit like ensuring a meal defects - how they propagate during the cooked for 1,000 guests is exactly the same crystal growth process and how they affect the quality as the same meal cooked for just four mechanical properties of crystals, e.g. their people. Our aim is to ensure that, in scaling deformation processes during tabletting. The up different processes, none of the quality is atoms in a crystalline material are arranged in lost. Our technology will help overcome some a lattice; however, the arrangement of atoms or of the obstacles that slow down the research molecules in most crystalline materials is not and development processes in these sectors. perfect. The regular patterns are interrupted Advances made over the 100 year history by crystallographic defects; these defects give of crystallographic research means that the crystals particular properties and can have an chemical and physical processes underpinning effect in crystal growth and development.” the design and manufacture of a wide range of functional materials and products have been improved by holistically inter-relating structure with properties and processing behaviour in Lawrence Bragg’s use of X-rays order to optimise their performance.” to probe the structure of crystals
revealed the 3D arrangement of molecules within solid-state materials
Building on the Braggs’ discoveries in another way is SuperSTEM - the National Facility for Aberration-Corrected Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy - enabling the atomic properties of materials to be seen more clearly. Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopes (STEM), like their optical predecessors, suffer from image distortion which requires powerful computers and a series of magnets to rebalance the electron probe used to examine materials; this is known as aberrationcorrection.
Professor Kevin Roberts Institute for Particle Science & Engineering
In 2002, the SuperSTEM facility on the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Daresbury Campus in Cheshire became the first user centre in the world to provide access to these types of corrected microscopes. Led by Leeds, the SuperSTEM academic consortium – the Universities of Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Oxford – won a competitive tendering process and SuperSTEM was awarded the status of National Facility by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The new facility was launched in January 2012 and based in a purpose-built, low-vibration laboratory facility. Professor Rik Brydson of the Institute for Materials Research in SPEME is Chair of the Executive Committee for the facility: “Electron microscopy has undergone a revolution in recent years with leaps in the performance of electron optical elements, sources and detectors. While instruments are becoming ever more powerful their complexity is also multiplied,” he says. “SuperSTEM brings stateof-the-art instrumentation and world-leading experts together on one site, encouraging and accelerating collaborative projects between the academic and industrial communities. For example, researchers have been able to examine new materials including single atom thick structures like graphene, learn how nanotechnology interacts with biological matter and to see what causes diamonds to have distinctive colours.” AS (Leeds Electron Microscopy and LEMAS troscopy Centre) is a collaboration Spectroscopy een the Institute for Materials Research between EME and the School of Earth and in SPEME onment. A leading research centre in Environment. oscopic and spectroscopic characterisation microscopic id materials, LEMAS is the local facility of solid plementing the SuperSTEM national complementing facilityy and also offers services to other rsities and to industry. The centre acts universities as a bridge between state-of-the-art academic rch facilities and the needs of local research stry, consultancy investigations, research industry, nisations and business. organisations
Making a meterial difference
Facilities available to internal and external users include the latest equipment to carry out electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD). EBSD is a microstructural-crystallographic technique based on Bragg’s Law of X-ray diffraction. Carried out by a scanning electron microscope (SEM), EBSD is used to investigate the crystallographic orientation of polycrystalline materials, for example metals, ceramics, minerals and rocks, by recognition of distinctive EBSD patterns. Modern SEM-EBSD originated in the 1990s and rapidly gained popularity due to ease of use. Tens of patterns can be analysed per second and it shows a full crystallographic orientation map of the material. Dr Geoff Lloyd of the School of Earth and Environment is a founding member of LEMAS and uses SEM-EBSD to characterise the orientation and misorientation characteristics of minerals, rocks, metals and ceramics. “From this information I can derive the petrophysical properties of these materials – that is the physical and chemical properties of rock and their interactions with fluids,” he says. “By studying rocks and their seismic properties, I can explain and interpret seismic data in terms of large scale geodynamic processes in both the Earth’s crust and mantle, which is essential to understanding the geology of fault zones and therefore potential earthquake activity.”
SuperSTEM brings state-of-theart instrumentation and worldleading experts together on one site, encouraging and accelerating collaborative projects between the academic and industrial communities. Professor Rik Brydson Institute for Materials Research
p Some of the facilities available at the Leeds Electron Microscopy and Spectroscopy Centre.
p From top Electron Imaging (textural/ compositional); X-ray Spectroscopy (compositional); Electron Backscatter Diffraction (structural).
The Bragg Centenarary
AIMING HIGHER Leeds researchers are developing piezoelectric materials which can work in much higher temperatures, opening up new applications in aerospace industry and many more.
The Bragg Centenarary
What do parking sensors on cars, ultrasound scanners and musical birthday cards have in common? They all rely on piezoelectric materials for their operation.
The most widely-used piezoelectric material is the ceramic compound lead zirconate titanate (PZT), but its lead content may become problematic. Use of lead is prohibited under EU directives in certain products, for example Engineers at Leeds have been developing a paints and solder, but piezo-ceramics are new form of piezoelectric material which can currently exempt from this regulation. Dr be used in a wider range of applications than Tim Stevenson of the Institute for Materials is currently possible. Their success in doing so Research in SPEME, together with colleagues has led to the creation of a spin-out company to Professor Andrew Bell, Dr Tim Comyn and PhD exploit the work commercially. student Jim Bennett, has been working on the development of lead-free or lead-light piezoPiezoelectricity is defined as the electric charge ceramics which can also work effectively at that accumulates in certain solid materials temperatures above 200°C. (notably crystals, ceramics, bone, DNA and various proteins) in response to applied “We’ve developed a new material which works mechanical stress and vice versa, applying a in high-temperature settings and is also leadvoltage produces an expansion or contraction light compared with PZT,” says Dr Stevenson. of the material. The first demonstration of the “The Braggs’ work on X-ray crystallography direct piezoelectric effect was given in 1880 – and the resulting Bragg’s Law – was the by French physicists Jacques and Pierre foundation from which we were able to build Curie. Piezoelectric materials have been in and achieve such a detailed understanding of widespread and ever-increasing use since the crystal structure today. Determining the atomic 1960s, in a diverse range of products from arrangement in crystals has been important medical imaging devices to quartz watches, but in this development process as we are able to there has not been any major improvement in accurately gauge the piezoelectricity potential of their properties or performance. Conventional a material and how we can tailor materials with piezoelectric materials have limited strength different properties.” and only work in temperatures of up to 200°C, making them unsuitable for high temperature Aiming to transform the operating temperature applications. A team in the School of Process, of piezoelectric ceramics and improve the Environmental and Materials Engineering material’s performance, stability and durability, (SPEME) is developing piezoelectric materials Dr Stevenson, Professor Bell and Dr Comyn which can work in much higher temperatures – have been developing piezoelectric sensors of up to 450°C – opening up novel applications and actuators robust enough to work efficiently in the aerospace, automotive and energy at temperatures of 450°C or more. With their industries. knowledge of piezoelectric materials and PZT’s limitations - and realising the potential for the When a mechanical stress is applied to a application of new advances in this area – the piezoelectric material it slightly displaces the three academics formed a spin-out company in atoms within the structure of the material. 2011, Ionix Advanced Technologies, dedicated This change to the structure is actually a to working on this new material. shift in the relative positions of the positively and negatively charged atoms (ions), which “We looked at systems that had the same produces a net electric charge on the material. crystal forms as PZT, using Bragg’s Law to This is the origin of piezoelectricity. Being able examine in great detail how the crystal structure to look closely at crystal structures is vital in moves,” says Dr Stevenson. “Being able to assessing the potential piezoelectric qualities see the crystal structure means that we are of a material, which is made possible through able to apply pressure and heat to see how X-ray crystallography – a method of examining this affects structure. We’ve had success in and determining the atomic structure of solids – creating materials that mimic PZT but which developed by physicist William Lawrence Bragg work at a much higher temperature. The and his father William Henry Bragg. potential uses are so great that the creation of a separate company was warranted to continue its development.”
A computer’s memory uses components that need cooling by a fan. Using material that can work efficiently at higher temperatures, removing the need for constant cooling, would result in a reduction in energy use – another useful side effect of the technology.
Professor Andrew Bell
Ionix initially investigated developing sensors and actuators to work inside jet engines at temperatures of up to 450°C. “Developing components or devices based on these new materials to use in jet engines will take 10-15 years to ensure their safety and efficiency,” continues Professor Bell. “So we’re also looking at applications in other sectors, where the development time will be shorter.”
We’ve had success in creating materials that mimic PZT but which work at a much higher temperature. The potential uses are so great that the creation of a separate company was warranted to continue its development. Dr Tim Stevenson The team has found potential applications in the nuclear and chemical industries, oil and gas exploration as well as aviation. For example one project has led to the development of a sensor which monitors the reliability of components in superheated steam systems. The sensor listens to the ultrasonic noise emitted by steam valves in order to pick up early signs of failure – a task which had previously been carried out manually. It is anticipated that this sensor could be adopted by a range of markets, from large scale energy plants through to public buildings such as hospitals. Also under consideration is the licensing of their patented technology to existing piezoelectric material manufacturers, but the team has found that these companies are happy to continue using the traditional material PZT rather than invest the considerable amount of time and money required to back the development of a new material. “That’s the main reason for starting our own company, says Dr Stevenson. “The way to prove that our research has impact and can bear fruit is to do it ourselves; find the applications and build a business.” The Ionix team is currently working on a business plan for their patented novel sensors in preparation for an investment round. With sufficient backing, the team want to set up a small production facility and employ three full-time staff and a business manager. “We do have sales and a small turnover at the moment, mainly helping other companies with their development and putting their products into production, says Professor Bell. “However, our piezoelectric material has a competitive advantage over conventional material. For example, a computer’s memory uses components that need cooling by a fan. Using material that can work efficiently at higher temperatures, removing the need for constant cooling, would result in a reduction in energy use – another useful side effect of the technology. The material is multi-functional and has the scope and potential for many new applications, only limited by imagination – we just need to decide on a name for it now.”
u Dr Tim Stevenson, University of Leeds Research Fellow and Chief Operating Officer, Ionix Advanced Technologies.
Case study: METCO
A 3 year, €2.8 million project • Working with UK and European partners • Aim to produce a new European standard for measuring piezoelectric materials at high temperature • Leeds is leading the development of the ceramic material which will be used as international standard
Metrology is the science of measurement, defined by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) as “the science of measurement, embracing both experimental and theoretical determinations at any level of uncertainty in any field of science and technology.” All units of measurement, from weights to temperature, have an agreed standard which is used internationally. The development of any new material requires a corresponding standard method of measurement to be devised and applied internationally. SPEME is part of a €2.8 million, three-year project working with the UK’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and other European national metrology institutes to produce a European Standard for measuring piezoelectric materials at high temperature.
The project – METCO – will create the set methodology for measuring voltage, temperature and strain in high-temperature piezoelectric materials and Leeds is leading the development of the ceramic material which will be used across the EU as the international standard. “Establishing a standard metrology is important,” says Dr Tim Stevenson. “When we say that a material can operate at temperatures of 300°C, we need to record exactly how it reacts at that temperature and how it was measured. If the material is sold to the US, for example, their measurement of 300°C must be the same as ours for the same performance.” With project collaborators in France, Germany, Finland and the Czech Republic, the project aims to accelerate new technology developments through training, workshops, web-based dissemination and publications. www.metco.eu.com
Conventional piezoelectric materials have limited strength and only work in temperatures of up to 200°C, making them unsuitable for high temperature applications.
(Ionix) is developing piezoelectric materials which can work in much higher temperatures – of up to 450°C
University of Leeds
PARTNERING FOR GROWTH: 100 SUCCESS STORIES The University of Leeds has been an active partner in the national Knowledge Transfer Partnership programme since its inception and this year has seen the start of its 100th project. Improving the competitiveness, productivity and performance of UK businesses by accessing the knowledge and expertise available within UK universities has been the aim of the national Knowledge Transfer Partnership programme since its launch in 2003. Leeds has a long history of successful Knowledge Transfer Partnerships - or KTPs - with businesses of all sectors, shapes and sizes. In January this year a significant milestone was reached when the University began its 100th KTP, a project with household name Dyson Technologies Ltd. Led by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and funded by some 17 public sector bodies, over 700 KTPs are running nationally at any one time, with projects varying in length from six months to three years, depending on scope. There are three principal partners in a KTP: the company with the business need, the university with the academic knowledge and the KTP Associate (often a recently-qualified graduate) who is employed by the project to connect the partners and effect the exchange, of knowledge and technical skills between partners. All successful KTPs share similar strengths: they meet the partner company’s original business need, achieved by working with the research expertise of the partner university; and the university gains from the acquisition of business intelligence and having a real-world application for academic knowledge.
Leeds has been involved with the KTP programme and its predecessor, the Teaching Company Scheme, since 1978 and has around 20 KTP projects running at any one time, making it one of the most prolific university participants in the scheme in the UK. Current project partners range from large international businesses such as Asda to niche companies such as continuous-casting equipment manufacturers, Rautomead. “Reaching the milestone of 100 KTP projects is testament to the research strengths at Leeds,” says Professor David Hogg, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation. “Companies recognise the relevance of the expertise at Leeds and the competitive edge it can give their business. By having a dedicated KTP office at Leeds, we provide our staff and our commercial partners with the best fit for our academic expertise and the development of the partner’s business. This tangible transferring of knowledge makes an impact in the commercial world and reinforces the importance of collaborations between universities and businesses.” The project with Dyson Technologies Ltd is a 2.5 year partnership with the Centre for Technical Textiles in the School of Design.
It focuses on developing novel filter fabrics for Dyson’s innovative vacuum systems, ensuring the company sustains its competitive edge in future technology. "New technology starts with research - and some of the world's best research is found in British universities. Combining the expertise of Dyson engineers with the knowledge base at Leeds University will lead to new tangible technologies which we can export from the UK", says Mark Taylor, Group Operations RDD Director.
Partnering for growth: 100 success stories
Dr Debbie Buckley-Golder, Head of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships at the Technology Strategy Board, the body that oversees the KTP programme nationally says: “The Leeds approach demonstrates perfectly the ethos of the KTP. The university develops a relevant and improved understanding of the challenges that companies encounter which, in turn, stimulates business-relevant teaching material and new research themes. The benefits to a company are wide-ranging and commercially valuable and often the relationship between the partners continues after the end of the project. Students who will go on to be the next generation of business people can only benefit from these projects.” t Dyson's innovative Cyclone technology.
Case study: CGI
32 In 2012 alone the University of Leeds had 32 active KT Partnerships with local, regional and international companies, making it one of the leading Universities in the UK.
700 £ ➦£
Over 700 KTPs are running nationally at any one time.
For every £1m of government spend the average benefits to the company amounted For the Associate 60% are offered and accept to an £4.25m annual increase in profit a post in their host company on completion of before tax, £3.25m investment in plant and machinery with 112 new jobs created and 214 their KTP project. 41% register for a higher company staff trained as a direct result of the degree and 67% of these were awarded a project higher degree
Trading as Pyroguard, Haydock-based CGI is the UK’s leading independent manufacturer of fire-resistant glass. The objective of this KTP, with the School of Process, Environmental and Materials Engineering (SPEME) in the Faculty of Engineering, was to enhance the company’s performance by understanding and mapping the polymer chemistry of proprietary fire-resisting glass and using this knowledge to develop new market-leading products. As a result of the project, technical capabilities are now embedded in the company and customers view CGI as a dynamic, forwardlooking business with excellent products. The KTP Associate, Dr Vince Crook, was subsequently employed by CGI in the newly-created role of Head of Research and Development, which illustrates perfectly one of the main strengths of KTPs: that 60 per cent of KTP Associates are offered a job by the host company on completion of the project. “The KTP was a superb career opportunity for me,” says Dr Crook.
“I would encourage any company that has the will to develop new technology, but is unsure how to bridge the knowledge gap, to apply for a KTP.” Co-sponsored by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the CGI project was a finalist in the Best Partnership category of the TSB’s national KTP Awards in 2012. Only those partnerships considered to have achieved above the original expectations of the project for all three partners are eligible for nomination. “This project highlights that science-based research will have a positive effect on sales growth,” says Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the TSB. “The partnership’s work has led to a clear return on investment. This will encourage other companies to look at the benefits that the research and collaborative community can bring to the company coffers." www.leeds.ac.uk/ktp
SOAP STORY SUCCESS Formalising the relationship between the University of Leedsâ€™ Institute of Particle Science and Engineering (IPSE) and consumer products giant Procter & Gamble (P&G) has resulted in strong collaborations and a long-term strategic focus which is delivering benefits across both organisations. Prior to 2010, when the University and P&G entered into a formal strategic partnership, P&G had been working with experts at Leeds on ad-hoc tactical projects to solve specific issues or develop particular formulations. Since the new relationship was introduced the number of collaborative projects has more than doubled and their value has almost tripled.
Soap Story Success
Professor David York, who joined IPSE from P&G in 2012, was instrumental in facilitating the birth of a more formal partnership and recalls how it quickly became the obvious thing to do. “The University’s links with P&G were expanding far beyond one or two academics and we saw lots of opportunities where the organisations could work closer together,” he says.” From P&G’s perspective, Leeds stands out as one of the foremost particle technology institutes in the world and P&G liked the way in which the University can offer a range of solutions to suit specific projects.” Besides the resources and expertise on offer at Leeds, the main strength of the partnership is that it is a transactional, two way relationship where academics approach P&G with project ideas just as often as the demand comes from the industrial partner. P&G treats the academics as part of its team, providing access to its own characterisation and particle making facilities, and, in return, benefits from their contribution to a far broader portfolio of activities than would be possible working on an ad hoc basis. All projects are collaborative and are managed by both an academic and an industrial supervisor, who hold joint responsibility for the successful delivery of individual projects. With IP and confidentiality issues already covered by the strategic partnership agreement, projects can get underway much faster. “We can now get a sub-agreement for a specific project in place within a couple of weeks,” says Dr Hossein Ahmadian, relationship manager from P&G. “From a timing and logistics point of view, that speed of start-up is invaluable.” Project management is also designed to recognise the differences between the partners and ensure smooth interactions. Dr Ahmadian provides the focus for this. “There will always be challenges in translating P&G’s technical requirements into a language academics will recognise,” he says. “But industrialists do not always appreciate what motivates academics so it is equally important to provide some perspective within P&G and set realistic expectations.”
IPSE is currently working on around twenty active projects for P&G and, with some longer beginniing running projects beginning thi his to come to fruition, the impact of this partnership is now being fully realised. “We don’t develop a full product for P&G,” says Professor York. “We develop parts of solutions which the company then uses to address a larger problem or to design new products.”
Across the University the relationship relationshi is Chemic managed by the High Value Chemical Manufacturing Hub, working across faculties to ensure everyone knows what projects are underway, which academics are involved and that everything runs smoothly.
P&G is confident about the results of the collaboration and, with the University, is drawing up a five year plan that includes targets and measurement criteria linking the work done at Leeds to the overall value of the company’s commercial end products. “The partnership has led to several valuable benefits to P&G, not only the expected unique inputs to solutions for our technical problems, but also the development of core innovation capability in our businesses, potential intellectual property and training opportunities for our staff. What has particularly impressed is the speed with which projects are established and the level of industrial know-how the academics possess. They are very interested in our technical problems, given that they are usually at the cutting edge research. This is highly advantageous for a fast moving consumer goods company like P&G" says Charles Bragg, R&D Site Director at P&G's Newcastle Innovation Centre.
A further benefit is in student development. Last year P&G sponsored two Leeds PhD students through EPSRC CASE Awards and several post-doctoral students have been hired by the company.
Many of the joint projects are aimed at improving production techniques as much as developing new products. In the Faculty of Engineering’s Simulation Centre, the team is able to model processing equipment to predict how changes in processing conditions impact product quality, which can provide significant cost savings in re-engineering or reformulation. The development of a 'new experimental apparatus for powder measurement' is aiding P&G’s home care business (dishwasher tablets) to assess the caking propensity of powders more rapidly. Other projects are having an impact on the wider household products industry. For example, work done at IPSE relating to enzyme dust formation has led to new recommendations for hygiene and worker safety, something the world’s largest detergent enzyme suppliers and users are currently considering for adoption.
Professor Peter Jimack, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, is determined to ensure that the partnership continues to grow in both breadth and depth. “When you are doing ad hoc projects everything is reactive.” he says. ”This relationship provides the opportunity to plan ahead and, because we are working together from an early stage, to have greater leverage and influence.” He believes that the partnership has enormous potential for both parties. ”There’s so much expertise across the University, in other disciplines such as chemistry, physics, psychology and the arts. As part of the partnership, we are promoting these strengths within P&G and actively exploring projects that will allow our partnership to broaden into some of these areas in a manner that will benefit both P&G and the University.” Dr Ahmadian firmly supports this ambition and underlines that a primary aim of the
Within P&G, a Connect and Develop Board identifies the key academics for each project and encourages company colleagues to think more strategically in terms of longer term requirements. The company also arranges employee visits to Leeds to showcase the capabilities of the University and to share the success stories to as wide an audience as possible. 24
ou presence “Because of our engageme the and engagement academics are seeing more of us and are more aware of our technical challenges,” chall Ahmad says Dr Ahmadian. “It sy also enables synergies variou between various base at a single academics based location to emerge so we are lo more out of it.” gettingg a lot
There’s so much expertise across the University, in other disciplines such as chemistry, physics, psychology and the arts. As part of the partnership, we are promoting these strengths within P&G and actively exploring projects that will allow our partnership to broaden into some of these areas in a manner that will benefit both P&G and the University. Professor Peter Jimack Dean of the Faculty of Engineering
u Charles D. Bragg, R&D Site Director, Newcastle Innovation Centre, P&G.
Soap Story Success
partnership is to expand it beyond the engineering departments of both organisations. “We have already collaborated with Food Sciences and are exploring right now with the Centre for Technical Textiles,” he says. ”The relationship with IPSE and the Faculty of Engineering has been a great success story but we do not plan to restrict ourselves to that. We want it to grow outside those disciplines and take advantage of the full value of working with Leeds.”
The partnership has led to several valuable benefits to P&G, not only the expected unique inputs to solutions for our technical lopment problems, but also the development y in our of core innovation capability tual businesses, potential intellectual rtunities property and training opportunities icularly for our staff. What has particularly impressed is the speed with which projects are established and the w level of industrial know-how the academics possess. They are very interested in our technical problems, given that they are usually at the cutting edge research. This iss highly ving advantageous for a fast moving ke P&G" consumer goods company like
Charles Bragg, R&D Site Director att P&G's Newcastle Innovation Centre.
20 £500K 5-YEAR 2 5 20 active projects (including PhD’s, Post-doc, KTPs)
Project value in excess of £500K in 2012-13
Dev Development of a five-year plan with agreed mea measured targets
Two academic sabbaticals at P&G
By September, five Leeds PhD graduates will have been recruited over last 4 years
University of Leeds
Drug development is a long and costly process – the average sector cost of bringing a new medicine to market was more than £630 million this year*. In order to make new drug treatments available to patients, the first step is to create chemical compounds which potentially have the ability to treat a specific disease. Many compounds undergo early trials but are then put on hold for a variety of reasons, often because they do not achieve the anticipated results for which they were created. However, these compounds may have other potential uses for scientists working in different research areas and, if the pharmaceutical company decides to make them available, the development work that has already taken place could still result in the successful creation of new drug treatments.
The applications were judged and shortlisted, with the best scientific proposals selected and awarded use of the AZ compounds, with up to £10 million funding in total allocated to research proposals into a broad range of human diseases. The MRC-AZ initiative supported two types of study: pre-clinical studies where applicants had to demonstrate a clear clinical benefit to enable the investigation of mechanisms of human disease and, secondly, clinical research studies which aimed to use compounds in new disease areas, building upon existing evidence about disease pathology. Proposed studies were required to focus on new, previously unexplored areas of clinical research outside of AstraZeneca’s existing development plans, and not replicate previous or existing studies.
A growing industry dedicated to using the previously-shelved compounds in new treatment areas has developed as a result of this. Called repositioning, or repurposing, finding new uses for de-prioritised drugs is seen as a more economical alternative to years of research into new drug compounds. Traditionally, pharmaceutical companies test hundreds of thousands of compounds in the hunt for new drug treatments and it can take 10-15 years to find a medicine that works and is safe
Dr Sean Lawler from the Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine (LIMM) was one of the successful applicants for use of an AZ compound, the GSK 3 beta inhibitor known as AZD1080, and was awarded £403,000 to carry out his research. GSK 3 is a naturally-occurring protein kinase which has been the subject of much research due to its association with a number of high-profile diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, Type 2 diabetes and Bipolar disorder. Protein kinases are enzymes that add a phosphate group to a protein. As this process - phosphorylation - is a crucial step in the development of some cancers and inflammatory diseases, drug treatments aim to inhibit the protein kinases and therefore the phosphorylation. GSK 3 inhibitors such as lithium, are already in use in the treatment of bipolar disorder, and are being sought for other neurological and physiological disorders. The AZ compound AZD1080 had originally been developed as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, but had potential for use in other indications which required the inhibition of GSK 3.
In common with other pharmaceutical companies, AstraZeneca (AZ) invests heavily in drug development. In December 2011, AZ offered a list of 22 de-prioritised drugs free of charge to the UK academic community and invited applications from researchers who were interested in looking for possible alternative uses for these drugs. In conjunction with £10 million funding from the Medical Research Council (MRC), this MRC-AZ alliance broke new ground in the way that industry collaborates with academia to share knowledge and discover and develop new drug treatments. The MRC invited research proposals from across the UK academic community to use the AZ compounds in new areas.
Glioblastoma affects 3,000 new patients each year and often remains undiagnosed for some time as the neurological symptoms such as seizures and sensations that patients experience can indicate other conditions. An MRI scan is the first confirmation of the tumour’s presence, by which time it is generally advanced and requiring surgery and chemotherapy. Susan Short, Professor of Clinical Oncology and Neuro-Oncology is also working on the GSK 3 project with Dr Lawler: “Glioblastoma is a fatal disease but our work aims to increase the survival rate from the current 15 per cent, increase the life expectancy to around five years and give sufferers a better quality of life. If that happens, it would be a good result,” she says. The GSK 3 project is due to last three years, ending in 2016. Dr Lawler’s initial simple experiments have found that the AZ compound does stop cell migration from a glioblastoma and the next step is to recruit a postdoctoral student to carry out further testing and experiments. “Within two years we’ll have a strong indication whether the compound has the effect that we are looking for,” says Dr Lawler. “The work already carried out on the compound by AstraZeneca proves that the drug can be delivered to the brain quickly and indications are that it also protects neurons in the brain against damage from chemotherapy. If this drug can work with, and improve, existing therapies, then it’s potentially a very exciting development in glioblastoma treatment and the most promising of all the strategies that I’ve worked with.“
When Dr Lawler saw the list of available compounds, he immediately noticed that the GKS 3 inhibitor in particular was a good match for the work he had been carrying out on glioblastoma, an aggressive and malignant brain tumour.
Joining the University of Leeds in 2012, Professor Susan Short has research expertise in radiation biology and is also a clinician in the radiation oncology team at the Bexley Wing of St James’s Hospital in Leeds. Her experience of designing and running clinical studies for brain tumour patients has been a crucial 26
“The compound’s structure matched the work I had been doing for several years, looking at compounds which could be new therapies for glioblastoma,” he says. “The tumour is not wellcontained; it’s difficult for surgeons to remove all the cancer cells so I’ve been looking at ways to stop cell migration.”
connection between the clinic and the newlyestablished Brain Tumour Research Centre, based in LIMM, which has been supported by local charities Candlelighters and Brain Tumour Research and Support.
Speeding up drug development
SPEEDING UP DRUG DEVELOPMENT Researchers in Leeds are moving closer to a better treatment for an aggressive brain cancer, an advancement that has been made possible through an innovative partnership between global biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and the UK’s Medical Research Council.
The innovative collaboration between the MRC and AstraZeneca won the Best Partnership Alliance award at the annual SCRIP Awards event in November 2012. SCRIP is one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical and biotech news organisations and this award recognises the importance of partnerships involving pharmaceutical and/or biotech companies in developing novel therapeutics. Clive Morris, AstraZeneca Vice President, New Opportunities iMed, says: “Our alliance with the MRC has played a leading role in inspiring a new era of collaboration and open innovation in the industry.” Dr Chris Watkins, Head of Translational Research and Industry Liaison at the MRC, adds: “Through working with AstraZeneca we feel we’ve made a real step forward in the way we collaborate with industry and we were really pleased with the quality of science we funded through the partnership. It has also allowed academic researchers to forge new partnerships with industry, which will give rise to future collaboration across the life sciences sector.”
Professor Short comments: “Being awarded use of the de-prioritised compound has helped speed up our work considerably. Being able to use compounds which have been developed by large pharmaceutical companies saves both time and money and, most importantly, brings the licensing of a new drug treatment for glioblastoma and associated conditions ever closer.”
Professor Short also leads a Cancer Research UK funded research group focusing on how some brain tumours resist treatment with radiotherapy or cancer drugs. “Patients whose cancer cells are resistant to treatment have poor chances of survival, so finding better ways of destroying tumours is an important goal,”
says Professor Short. “The expertise we have across the University and the funding we’ve received will allow our rapid development into an internationally-recognised centre for a range of integrated brain tumour research projects, from cutting-edge basic science through to
*Source: Medical Research Council
The average costs of bringing a new drug to market in 2013
novel clinical trials, with the clearly defined goal of improving patient outcomes.”
University of Leeds
MAPPING THE UNDERWORLD Thereâ€™s a world going on underground that few of us ever see. Throughout the UK, a network long enough to stretch to the moon and back ten times, of water pipes, sewers, gas mains, electric and fibre-optic cables, is meshed under our streets.
Mapping the Underworld
Four million holes are dug in the nation’s roads each year - more than one every seven seconds - to repair pipes and cables or install new ones. These works are estimated to cost us £1bn per annum, with indirect costs, such as congestion, pushing it to £5bn - over £80 for every person in the UK.
While the four partner universities (Birmingham, Bath, Sheffield and Southampton) were developing the different sensing technologies, the role of the team at the School of Computing was to make sense of all this information and bring it together with the newly acquired data from the MTU project into a usable resource, a single source of information in a common geographic information system (GIS) format.
To add to the frustration and disruption, maps of these underground assets are largely incomplete or inaccurate and many of the holes dug are exploratory or ‘dry holes’ where nothing Results from the early stages of MTU were is found. fed into a DTI Technology Programme funded project, VISTA, which aimed to unify the The Mapping the Underworld (MTU) project datasets from utility companies and produce was set up in 2004 to address this problem a common approach to recording utility data. and investigate how more reliable maps Researchers from the Universities of Leeds and could be created. It evolved from a meeting Nottingham developed a system to integrate of minds at an Engineering and Physical existing digital and paper-based records and Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded link these with data from satellite and groundsandpit workshop that identified the need for a based positioning systems. combination of different sensing technologies to locate and classify buried services in widely “VISTA was developed to give us a location varying ground conditions. and integrated mapping system that could be applied back to MTU” says Professor Cohn. “Records do exist but these are often held “To be of maximum benefit to the planners and by separate utility companies and highways contractors doing the digging, we needed to departments which lack methods to integrate produce semantically coherent, vector-based the information,” says Tony Cohn, Professor maps on demand.” of Automated Reasoning in the School of Computing. “Existing utility data and VISTA was trialled in Scotland, with the benefit information from above-ground street surveys of there being just one electricity supplier and still has some value. It provides a rough guide one water company to coordinate. Its success to where services are buried, but many of our there led to the approval and implementation underground pipes were laid in the 19th and of the Scottish Road Works Register’s VAULT early 20th centuries so many above ground project in 2012. VAULT now provides Scotland reference points, such as kerbs or buildings, with a way to share and quickly access utility are no longer there. Where maps do exist, records in a common GIS format and has they have often been transposed over time been nationally recognised in winning the Built to different recording systems and have lost Environment category of the IET (Institution accuracy and detail.” of Engineering and Technology) Innovation Awards in 2012 and the Avoiding Damage category in the NJUG (National Joint Utilities Group) Awards in the same year.
Most support the initiative and welcome the reduction in cost, wastage and public inconvenience MTU will ultimately confer, but data provision is still hampered by significant concerns regarding data security and commercial sensitivity. The sensor technologies developed by Leeds’ partners in the MTU initiative include ground penetrating radar, vibro-acoustics, low-frequency electromagnetic fields and passive magnetic fields. In capturing and geo-referencing the variety of materials used for utilities, and through differing soil types and conditions, this battery of technologies is essential. It ensures enough data redundancy to gather an accurate overall picture and it is the Leeds team’s task to process that data to provide an integrated, coherent digital output. “Though we were involved with the other universities throughout the project, developing our system alongside theirs, they are now finalising designs and the pressure is on us to bring it all together,” says Professor Cohn. “Rather than the vectorised data needed, the sensor results are represented by varying field strengths, a bit like map contours, at individual survey locations. We have developed techniques to extract symbolic information automatically and fuse it to more conventional map forms, taking account of the expectations from the utility records, but recognising their inaccuracy.”
By creating more accurate, reliable and accessible information, MTU will help reduce the numbers of holes dug, ensure they are dug in the right place and that unexpected pipes and cables aren’t damaged in the process.
In the rest of the UK, where there are over 20 water companies alone, coordinating input from utility companies and highway departments is more complex.
Mapping the Underworld
396,000 km of water mains 482,000 km of electricity cable Estimated 2,000,000 km of telecommunication cables Highway drains and surface water sewers Traffic management cabling lights, signals Utility service connections to domestic and commercial property Network rail assets Nationally-important oil pipelines
Estimated to cost of £1bn per annum, with indirect costs, such as congestion, pushing it to £5bn.
""""" """"" """""
Equates to over £80 per annum for every person in the UK.
353,000 km of sewers
Four million holes dug in the nation’s roads each year – more than one every seven seconds.
275,000 km of gas mains
4m £5bn £80
Mapping the Underworld is a 10 year research programme largely funded by the EPSRC. It is a multidisciplinary programme bringing together expertise from six UK universities (Birmingham, Bath, Leeds, Newcastle, Sheffield and Southampton) working on complimentary research projects. Underground services in the UK include:
Once adopted as standard practice, the MTU project will have a major impact on reducing unnecessary interventions. Recent research has revealed that there are currently 19,000 on-going roadworks in the UK. Reducing the time taken to undertake these by just 0.1% would save the economy millions of pounds each year as well as significantly reducing congestion, environmental impact and the levels of death or injury suffered by road workers.
We have always buried our infrastructure underground. It is the best place for it, tion and hiding what would providing protection tly clutter on our be more unsightly streets. Thanks to the School of Computing’s collaboration d collaborating with industry and research groups we should see fewer holes dug in our d less time roads and spend cursing the traffic.
Marrying this information to the detailed maps provided by the Leeds data integration system will give utility companies a complete picture of their services, enabling coordinated planning for remedial works and programmes of ongoing repair.
“There is also the problem that the only way to verify the accuracy of our maps is to dig up the street, exactly what we want to avoid. From the controlled trials being undertaken at two test sites, we are becoming confident that our maps nces that will meet the utility are within tolerances eds in a sensible, cost-effective community’s needs way.”
While MTU is due to end this year, a four year follow-on project, Assessing the Underworld, has just been awarded £5.8m EPSRC funding. It aims to provide an assessment of the condition of underground assets using the technologies developed as part of MTU.
But Professor Cohn warns that fully mapping all of our underground services will be a slow process: “The MTU technology should provide much better quality surveys than existing techniques, but surveying is intrinsically quite a laborious process, so it is likely that surveying will only ever be undertaken where there is an anticipated need.
££ £ ££ £ ££ £ ££ £ ££ £ ££ £ ££ £ ££
The project has acted as a catalyst for the industry, bringing together utility companies, academics, contractors and trade bodies, such as the National Underground Assets Group and UK Water Industry Research, with a single vision. By creating more accurate, reliable and accessible information, MTU will help reduce the numbers of holes dug, ensure they are dug in the right place and that unexpected pipes and cables aren’t damaged in the process.
An innovative approach to medical devices
O E T V I H S T C E A A C V I O O V R N E P N D I P L A N A A C I D E M
The University has a long history of research excellence when it comes to medical devices and their newer counterpart, regenerative therapies, and this critical mass continues to grow, directly impacting on a range of sectors.
Impact 8 7
OnUniversity time and of onLeeds track
In 2009 the University of Leeds reached a milestone, having generated £50 million of research funding to support research initiatives addressing regenerative therapies and medical devices. Since that time this area of research has grown substantially, attracting further funding totalling £88 million, moving into a new purpose-built home and leading a multi-million pound programme which will begin later this year.
These projects were the £10m (EPSRC, BBSRC, TSB funded) Medical Technologies Innovation and Knowledge Centre (IKC) which is focused on closing the ‘translation gap’ and the second, a research translation focused initiative, the £11m Welmec Centre of Excellence in Medical Engineering, funded by the Wellcome Trust and the EPSRC, with both continuing through to 2015. “We’d reached a stage where we were really beginning to develop a head of steam as far as these It was back in 2009 that the University areas of research are concerned,” says launched its ’50 active years after 50®’ initiative, Professor John Fisher, the University’s Deputy in recognition of the strategic direction of Leeds’ Vice-Chancellor and Director of iMBE. “By based research in this area. launching 50 active years after 50® as a brand, we were able to bring everything together Whilst the initiative’s strapline ’50 active years under one umbrella. In particular we felt this after 50®’ suggests that research focuses on was important in helping the outside world an ageing population – and indeed more than understand what we were doing.” half the babies born in the UK and in wealthy nations will now live until they are 100 – The Medical Technologies IKC is major research work extends much beyond this remit component of 50 active years after 50®. A complex programme, the IKC combines with the development of devices and therapies research, clinical and commercialisation that can benefit a wide range of patients with expertise. Its main aim is to develop musculoskeletal or cardiovascular diseases. technologies and generate private sector The initiative was designed to bring together the investment to commercialise research and highly multi-disciplinary research in these areas deliver patient benefits. It can reduce the time it takes for new products to reach the market from across the University. Headed up by the and, crucially, to reduce the potential for costly Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering failures of new technologies as they approach (iMBE), researchers working on medical market-readiness. A significant amount of the technologies and regenerative therapies can work the IKC carries out is in partnership with be found across a range of disciplines: from industry. engineering and physical sciences through to medicine and biological sciences. In particular, Dr Ceri Williams, Director of Operations at the two major projects form the backbone of the IKC explains: “Essentially we are helping to ’50 active years after 50®’ brand. bridge the innovation gap, frequently called ‘the innovation valley of death’.”
A new home Medical and Biological engineering at the University of Leeds moved into a new home in November 2012, a £2.1 million purpose built facility which provides a focal point for medical technologies and regenerative device research and commercialisation. The new 700m² provides accommodation for more than 100 research and innovation personnel, extending the University’s existing medical engineering laboratories to meet the need of this growing area. Featuring offices, meeting rooms and ISO 9001 accredited laboratory space the new building also provides a single doctoral training facility for 50 PhD students.
We’d reached a stage where we were really beginning to develop a head of steam as far as these areas of research are concerned. By launching 50 active years after 50® as a brand, we were able to bring everything together under one umbrella. In particular we felt this was important in helping the outside world understand what we were doing.” Professor John Fisher “We work with companies to help them access our technology, our expertise, capability and people so that new technologies can be successfully progressed to reduce the risk for commercial investment and support full validation of the product ahead of its launch.” The benefits for industry partners are clear: working with researchers and clinicians at the cutting edge of their fields provides them with a competitive edge. Add the IKC’s knowledge and capacity for managing complex, innovative projects in an emerging sector and partners can be confident that the products they are developing are much more likely to be adopted by the health sector and ultimately benefit patients. Alongside the research, development and testing work conducted for industry partners, the IKC has also provided £2.6m funding for 21 Proof of Concept projects. These projects are created and funded to support research which shows significant commercial potential.
“This funding is helping to move research towards the point where it might be investmentready, to take it to the next stage, or to bring a product to market,” says Dr Williams. Another strand of the IKC’s activity is conducted by its Innovation and Impact Group. Researchers in this group, drawn primarily from Leeds University Business School, are embedded within each of the project teams to transfer knowledge about cutting edge innovation practice. The group is now working with industry partners to share this knowledge and experience to assist companies in becoming more efficient through their product and service development cycles.
An innovative approach to medical Material devices gains
£56m £88m 142 21 23
Private sector investment in IKC partner companies, in technology supported by the IKC.
Research funding leveraged as a result of IKC activity.
The past year has seen the IKC increase its range of partnerships. Whilst it’s always had a healthy number of industry partners, a strategic alliance with Regener8 – the network that supports the translation of regenerative technologies across the North of England and beyond – along with the provision of Proof Collaborative projects to date. of Concept funding to other universities, has extended its reach significantly. What’s more, its global profile is growing. As well as invitations to speak at international events in the medical technologies and regenerative therapies sector, a strategic partnership with Nanyang Technological University in Singapore has just been signed. This signals the formalisation of a Strategic Proof of Concept Projects currently being supported. partnership which will inform the development of new medical devices in Asia – a continent where growth of the orthopaedic devices sector is in the region of 30 per cent each year.
Researchers undertaking innovation management training.
Case study: Attacking acid erosion
A project which has developed a novel way to repair lost tooth enamel has received £1.1m boost with a Healthcare Technology Challenge Award from the EPSRC to bring it closer to reality. The original project, funded through a Proof of Concept award from the IKC in 2010, brought together experts in materials science, dentistry, toxicology and physics to create a material that will repair tooth enamel and develop a unique method of bonding the material to the tooth’s surface. Now the project team will be working with two industrial partners to develop the technology into a product – an integrated device to coat and sinter – designed to meet the needs of dentists and their practices.
While EPSRC and TSB funding for the IKC will come to an end in 2015, its activities will be sustained. The University of Leeds is committed to retaining the core innovation infrastructure in medical technologies, with plans to continue to invest in innovation management and commercialisation support. March 2013 saw the announcement of a new Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Medical Devices (MeDe Innovation). Funded by the EPSRC, the £5.7 million centre will complement the research and innovation activities of the Medical Technologies IKC, bringing together academics, clinicians and industry partners to focus on research challenges in the manufacture of medical devices. The University of Leeds is the lead partner in the Centre, partnered by the universities of Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Bradford, all of which bring additional expertise into this national Centre. Thirteen industrial partners have already committed to co-invest in the work of the Centre and their input will ensure it meets demand from industry. The award is the largest grant ever received by the University in the area of manufacturing technology. The Centre's two flagship research areas are Stratified Design Manufacture and Near Patient Personalised Manufacture, which will develop new manufacturing frameworks to enable clinically effective and cost-efficient matching of implants – and subsequently biological scaffolds - to patients. The Centre’s research will have a profound impact on the medical device sector, clinicians and of course, patients.
The enamel materials were originally developed by Professor Animesh Jha of the University’s Institute for Materials Research, working with colleagues from Leeds Dental Institute and the University of St Andrews. “We’ve developed a special type of enamellike material from calcium phosphate which is acid resistant,” explains Professor Jha. “It’s actually stronger than natural enamel because we’ve removed the constituent parts that are acid prone. Not only that, we’ve shown that it’s stronger than natural enamel and discovered a way to apply it to teeth. The new coating is acid resistant in the oral environment, which means that once it’s applied it offers a longer term preventative measure than those currently on the market.”
An innovative approach to medical devices
Taking a more stratified e and personalised approaches to the de design and manufacture of orth orthopaedic devices and biological scaffo scaffolds, will drive costh efficiencies in the health sector and wit a better overall provide patients with experience.
These include the Singapore Institute for Manufacturing Technologies (SIMTech), one of the world’s leading manufacturing research centres.
“We want to develop new methods of designing, simulating performance, suppo supporting fabrication and the manufacture of class III medical devices,” says Professor Fisher, “Instead of doctors placing orders for implants, u unpacking them and w want devices to then fitting them, we t meet individual be personalised to a for them to requirements and o near clinical be made in or settings.” th funding does not While the un October 2013, start until plannin is underway planning launc the Centre’s to launch activities Since the activities. announce announcement in March, new indust industry partners have joined the p programme and new international links have been forged.
The collaboration with SIMTech complements other international work, such as with industry partner Simulation Solutions. Working with the latter, the IKC installed pre-clinical simulation and testing equipment for total artificial joints in Food and Drug Administration (FDA) laboratories in Tianjin, China, also providing training and support for FDA staff. “This is the first in a line of nine FDAs that are likely to need our support in China. Our machinery is complex but we’re confident with the expert tuition from the University of Leeds, we can build regulators’ confidence and rapidly increase their learning curve in its use” said Nick Eldred, Director of Simulation Solutions. “But it’s not just about building confidence, it’s about helping the regulators to get meaningful data from the equipment – ultimately to benefit the safety of implants for their patients.”
Instead of doctors placing orders for implants, unpacking them and then fitting them, we want devices to be personalised to meet individual requirements and for them to be made in or near clinical settings. Professor John Fisher
Case study: Tissue Regenix
A collaborative project supported by the IKC brings together University of Leeds researchers and medical technology company Tissue Regenix. Tissue Regenix has a proprietary technology platform, dCELL®, originally developed in the University, which removes cells and other components from human and animal tissue, enabling them to be more easily used to replace worn out or diseased body parts, without the need for anti-rejection drugs. Its collaborative project with the University centred around ensuring robust test methodologies for its new dCELL® Meniscus, a product for the repair of damaged or worn knee meniscus. Professor Eileen Ingham explains: “These products are so innovative that there aren’t any standard test methodologies yet, so we’re helping to develop these because they’re necessary for gaining regulatory approval in the first instance, and quality assurance of the products in the longer term.
“If, for example, you were testing the strength of a piece of metal, there are international standards you can use to benchmark against, but in the case of these new dCELL® technologies, these don’t yet exist.” The IKC provided financial support, as well as a nominated Technology Innovation Manager to provide project management support. The key to the success of this collaborative project with Tissue Regenix is in ensuring that test methodologies that are devised can eventually be performed in-house by the company. “The company needs test methodologies it can reproduce when it starts making the dCELL® Meniscus on a larger scale,” says Professor Ingham. “So it’s important that what we create in a University laboratory can be applied routinely to batches of the product.”
The Amazon for business
THE AMAZON FOR BUSINESS Leeds spin-out and online procurement leader Science Warehouse is growing fast and reaching out to new sectors
In 2000, Dr David Hames had a big decision to make and two beguiling choices – to take up the post he had just been appointed to of Professor and Dean at a UK university or press ahead with his fledgling spin-out company, Science Warehouse.
“It was an intensely pressurised period,” says Hames. “I had to make a choice between my academic career and starting a business in which I had next to no experience, would need to invest a great deal of time, effort and risk, but in which I could see enormous potential .”
At the time, the odds didn’t look good for his venture. Despite the clear need for an online procurement solution for scientific consumables, investment had not been finalised and lawyers were in the full throes of protracted negotiations. Worse still, unknown to him at the time, the dotcom bubble was about to burst.
Now the Chairman of a successful company, which has grown by 25-50% every year for the last four years and sells over 10 million products, it looks like Hames made the right choice.
However, there were real doubts along the way. “At the start, I remember sitting in our new empty office when the finance had finally been signed off, thinking ‘what do I do now?’ he smiles. “Soon after came the dotcom crash which lasted well over two years and Science Warehouse had to fight to survive – many of our competitors didn’t.” The challenges came thick and fast but despite being headhunted to take up a Vice Chancellor position at an overseas institution in the interim, Hames decided to stay with the company and make it work.
The idea for Science Warehouse arose from personal experience of the frustrations involved in ordering products and consumables for his research group in the years prior to the explosion of the internet. “It seems hard to believe now, but at that time we received paper catalogues from suppliers, sometimes only one catalogue for the whole department,” Says Hames. “We had no idea about what was in stock, or what prices our procurement colleagues had negotiated with the various suppliers. We had to write out a paper order and pass this to a University procurement officer to decipher and order on our behalf. The only way we could compare alternative products was to spend hours wading through multiple paper catalogues from different suppliers – assuming you could track down the catalogues in the first place! It was a system geared to the needs of the suppliers selling their products – not the researchers who needed to make the best buying decisions.” Fortuitously, at the time, the University was actively seeking innovative ideas with commercial potential under the growing remit of knowledge transfer (then known as “third arm” funding). Hames met with Dr Jonathan Betts, then a business development manager at the University of Leeds, and explained his idea to bring all the available laboratory products and consumables from the different suppliers online onto a single platform, with functionality geared to making the buyer’s life easier – easier to find the key information about products and easier to compare products and University prices.
University of Leeds
“Jonathan understood the potential straight away and, knowing there was nothing on the market like this, we worked on a business plan to search for investment to get it off the ground. Even then we knew it could be much bigger than a platform just for academia – we were confident that it should also be attractive to scientists who worked in life sciences companies too, such as pharmaceutical companies. I picked the name Science Warehouse thinking this would be broad enough for the market we needed to target. In retrospect I was far too conservative!” says Hames. The business plan called for an investment of several million pounds and, given the clear potential of Science Warehouse, several venture capital investors were keen to be involved. However Hames and Betts chose Forward Group, a fund management company that the University had formed an investment partnership with, who offered not just funds but also business management expertise. After securing reportedly the biggest start-up funding that a UK university spin-out company had ever received, Science Warehouse Ltd became a reality. A condition of the investment was that the University had to second David for two years to drive the company’s launch as CEO.
In retrospect, one of the most important decisions made right after the company launched was to take the time (about 5 months) to understand exactly what functionality academic users and procurement staff needed in the new solution, draft a detailed specification and only then to build it. When the Science Warehouse solution – an e-marketplace – finally went live in April 2001, the University of Leeds was its very first customer with an order for 20 packs of disposable latex gloves. “Jonathan and I were full-time at this point,” says Hames, “and Dr Bryn Stevens, a member of my previous research group, also joined the company as our first new employee. Forward Group put in key management expertise and off we went. Although it was an exciting time, essentially I’d started a completely new career at the age of 52 – which was more than a little daunting. But my family – particularly my wife – was incredibly supportive, as was the University in allowing me to formally remain a University employee on secondment for the first two years.” In the following years, Hames learned a huge amount about the extreme highs and extreme lows of running a business. He says: “In 2001 the dotcom bubble burst and the market crashed. The next two years were a ride from hell. No-one knew when it would end and the market wouldn’t trust anything IT-related. We had to re-evaluate our cost base and restructure a couple of times and faced the very real prospect of going bust the same way as many other IT start-ups did.
The Amazon for Business
It was a genuinely high pressure situation with more than a few sleepless nights. You learned fast or you failed.”
In total, the company today has over 50 staff based in Leeds and serves more than 70,000 users – with ambitions to expand even further.
But the company had two major strengths. First, Ray Chamberlain, the investor behind Forward Group, fully understood the potential of Science Warehouse and was determined it would succeed. Unlike other investors who took fright in the dotcom crash, he stayed loyal to the company and ensured its survival. Second, the Science Warehouse functionality delivered such strong benefits to individual users and their universities that the company didn’t lose a single customer or supplier in that period. As competitors went under, Science Warehouse emerged wiser and stronger. The company recruited a talented new CEO, Steve Kerridge, Betts became the Sales and Marketing Director, and in 2008 Hames stepped into the Chairman’s role from where he continues to help drive the company forward today.
“We saw very early on that as people got used to the ease of buying personal items online through sites such as Amazon, they would start to expect similar functionality at work. But we also needed to provide controls for the buying organisation to channel that buying activity – and make major savings in doing so.”
On top of its thriving university business, Science Warehouse has expanded into new UK sectors, winning contracts to deliver e-procurement services to all seven UK Research Councils and a range of other public sector bodies such as the National Physical Laboratory, National Nuclear Laboratory, Food and Environmental Research Agency, and the NHS (it has won tenders covering over 50 NHS Trusts). Science Warehouse’s services are also on the rise in the private sector, including in the pharmaceutical and construction sectors, and it is expanding internationally with a partner selling its solutions in Australia and New Zealand.
t Dr David Hames, Chairman of Science Warehouse
“Our solution is very smart and adds real value. We offer a fully managed service – we import catalogue data from the buying organisation’s selected suppliers, enrich it as needed with the aim of making it the best available, and classify it in a consistent way so that it is easy for the buyer to find what they want, compare alternative products and make informed decisions about buying. And of course every product has to show the price negotiated by the relevant buying organisation – and everything must be kept up-to-date. The product data and prices are updated on anything from a daily to an annual basis, depending on what the buyer and the supplier wants".
It is pleasing to see the system delivering savings and efficiency to our end users today.” As for the future, Hames is confident that Science Warehouse will continue to lead the e-procurement market. “We are tapping into a rapidly increasing demand world-wide for smart intuitive online buying tools. Our commercial model is robust, our strategic focus is smart, our user interface is best-in-class and our staff are dedicated to delivering the best customer service. The University of Leeds gave us a great start – now it’s up to us to remain the best in the market.” www.sci-ware.com
Tim Brannon, Head of Procurement at the University of Leeds, has seen the company transformed: “David Hames first came to see me in 2000, and I could see that Science Warehouse offered a solution that would help manage that notoriously difficult category of spend - laboratory supplies. Despite the dot. com crash I knew that securing just a few research intensive universities would help to make the concept a success.
The very first Science Warehouse order was appropriately placed by the University of Leeds on 25th April 2001 and was for 20 packs of powder-free chlorinated latex gloves, size small, at £3.70 each.
500,000 ,,,,, ,,,,, In 2001, Science Warehouse handled 56 Purchase Orders (POs). In 2012 they handled well over half a million POs, about 10,000 x more.
The current spend via Science Warehouse is over £200 million p.a., and rising fast.
University of Leeds
MAPPING THE ROUTE AHEAD When the Treasury put its ‘Infrastructure Procurement Routemap’ out for consultation in January this year, it marked a milestone in how research at the School of Civil Engineering is shaping the way major infrastructure projects are initiated, procured and delivered in the UK. The Routemap is part of the Government’s Infrastructure Cost Review, which aims to deliver annual efficiency savings of £2-3 billion by 2015. Developed by the Engineering Project Academy, at the University of Leeds, in collaboration with Infrastructure UK (IUK), it brings together a set of assessment tools to provide a single source guide for best practice in planning for major infrastructure projects. The Routemap encapsulates a common sense approach in a simple set of tools. It provides an objective assessment of the complexity of the organisation and delivery environment and of the capability of the sponsor, client and supply chain. By addressing a major failing in the infrastructure sector, consistently been highlighted by the National Audit Office, it aims to improve the likelihood that the organisations involved have the right attributes to ensure that required outcomes are delivered. So far, the feedback has been encouraging. The Routemap has received widespread support from industry bodies, such as the Institution of Civil Engineers, the construction media and organisations such as Crossrail and HS2. Responses from the formal consultation have been taken on board and it will now be revised ready for a full launch later this year.
Professor Denise Bower, Director of the Engineering Project Academy, sits on the Construction Industry Strategy Advisory Council which will be highlighting the Routemap as an example of best practice. She has been advising on intelligent client capability since an initial commission from the Office of Government Commerce 6 years ago and is still immersed in the Routemap. When talking about it, Professor Bower’s belief in its practical and economic benefits is unequivocal, as is her determination to retain the fundamental analytics at its core. “There is a history of wasted money on infrastructure initiation, procurement and delivery,” says Professor Bower. “People haven’t always had the right level of capability for the decisions that they are being asked to make and this has resulted in significant waste and inefficiency with infrastructure projects delivered late, over budget and not living up to the anticipated outcomes.” Far from being a prescriptive document, the Routemap adopts an approach that assesses the capabilities and capacity of those involved against the goals and organisational requirements of the project. Where shortfalls are identified, early solutions can then be implemented before committing to any single procurement model.
Mapping the Route Ahead
q Crossrail western tunnels, December 2012 ÂŠ Crossrail
University of Leeds
“This is not a ’one size fits all’ solution,” says Professor Bower. “But it does enable participants to understand the key principles, systems, roles and tasks required before determining how they create the capability to deliver a project efficiently.” The Routemap has already been recognised by the National Audit Office and private sector organisations, such as Deloitte and PWC, but Professor Bower is keen to stress that it is not meant to be mandatory for all infrastructure projects. “It sets out best practice” she says “Some elements will apply to any project while others may not be appropriate or relevant. It offers a pick and mix solution within a structure that ensures the skills are there to fulfil the project efficiently.
In addition to external collaboration, the Engineering Project Academy worked across internal University of Leeds faculties to provide a unique socio-technical approach to the developing the Routemap. Prior to this, individual tools existed to assess factors such as project complexity, client capability and supply chain systems but there was no coherent, interdisciplinary solution that married these into a single objective process. The Engineering Project Academy designed an ‘intelligent’ system able to diagnose the complexity of the environment and the competencies of those involved and then align these with the goals, processes, working practices, technology and culture of the stakeholder organisations. But publication of the Routemap is not the end of the road.
This should mean that you improve value for money and can reinvest savings to stimulate more jobs and more growth. It also means that you have got certainty and confidence of outcomes so there is more likelihood that investors will spend on infrastructure in the UK.”
An essential part of its deployment is the principle of continuous improvement and adaptation to new technologies, management practices and changing attributes of major infrastructure projects.
With any large project there may be more than one effective strategy but the Routemap’s ethos of collaboration and partnership should ensure that whichever solution is chosen will support capability and represent best value for money.
Nancy Madter, the primary researcher supporting the trial applications of the Routemap, firmly believes that aligning the capability of those tasked with delivering major infrastructure with the degree of challenge is key to realising the required efficiencies. “The Routemap considers the way the capabilities of the sponsor, the client and the supply chain come together to deliver against the complexity of the undertaking” she says.” The interest generated is due to the fact that there has never before been a platform like it.”
Professor Denise Bower
The Leeds team, together with IUK, has already piloted the Routemap on projects such as Crossrail, the £14.8 billion new railway in the South East, and the Environment Agency’s Thames Estuary project.
With Crossrail, they demonstrated that applying the principles of the Routemap would save more than £1.1 billion - about 7 per cent of the original budget. Professor Bower is now using the Routemap to advise on the delivery of the planned £35 billion HS2 high speed rail network, London Underground’s Station Stabilisation Programme and Anglian Water’s AMP6 infrastructure investment strategy. Further organisations planning to use it include Network Rail, BAA and the Defence Infrastructure Organisation. The strength of the system is that it does not advocate a specific outcome so is a valuable tool in any industry or location. Though formulated in the environment of economic infrastructure, the Routemap’s principles have equal relevance in other sectors and can be applied to major projects globally. “The Routemap provides a process of identification and preparation for efficient procurement and, thereby, efficient delivery of projects regardless of location or focus,” says Professor Bower. “It was originally designed around economic infrastructure projects but can equally be applied to social infrastructure, defence procurement, nuclear or oil and gas developments. We have already seen interest from these sectors.” Through enthusiasm, insight and determination, researchers at the Engineering Project Academy, and the School for Civil Engineering’s Institute for Resilient Infrastructure, have unlocked an approach to procurement that points to a step change in the delivery of major projects. The Routemap promises enormous benefits, not just in cost savings but also in ease of delivery, long term collaborations and knowledge transfer, up-skilling, reduced tendering costs and a landscape that promotes innovation.
7% £110bn £18bn
Construction output in the UK contributes some 7% of GDP.
The construction sector is worth about £110 billion per annum.
Infrastructure projects account for around £18 billion of this.
Professor Bower is justifiably proud of the impact it will have: “We had no direct funding for this project. It grew from our own research interests and is now part of Government policy and has support in both public and private sectors. With any large project there may be more than one effective strategy but the Routemap’s ethos of collaboration and partnership should ensure that whichever solution is chosen will support capability and represent best value for money.”
Mapping the Route Ahead
In 2010 the Government published the Infrastructure Cost Review which identified a number of drivers for the higher cost of construction in the UK and supported the view that these are mainly generated in the early project formulation and pre-construction phases. The ‘Infrastructure Procurement Routemap’ is a response to this report and aims to address the issues that are barriers to innovation and sustainability and deliver potential savings of £2-3 billion per annum. Professor Denise Bower (pictured right), Director of the Engineering Project Academy, has worked on the Routemap project since its inception and is now an internationally recognised authority on infrastructure procurement and delivery. In addition to being a member of the Construction Industry Strategy Advisory Council, she also sits on the IUK Client Working Group and a number of the Cabinet Office Working Groups responsible for supporting the Implementation of the Cost Review and Government Construction Strategy.
q An artist impression of the proposed HS2 phase two route at the Aire and Calder Navigation canal near Altofts.
University of Leeds
CROSS-CULTURAL ATTRACTION Since they were first set up, the University’s fourteen sector hubs have shown that collaboration with business can bring enormous advantages to both parties. For some this can be in developing or commercialising new products, while others can realise less tangible benefits more suited to the industries with which they work. Creative and Cultural Industries Exchange (CCI Exchange) is the sector hub for the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts and Communications (PVAC). Like all the hubs, it acts as a front door for companies to access the university’s outstanding academic resources. Perhaps more than the others though, it also works hard to build creative partnerships where the process of discovery can have as much value as the end result. This is far from being a soft option. Creative and cultural industries cover a wide area. They embrace the private, public and voluntary sectors, make a significant contribution to national GVA and exports and directly employ more than 1.5 million people. The research services brokered through the CCI Exchange promote the development of new products and services for this sector and enable fruitful knowledge exchange opportunities. But it is also in the nature of the creative and cultural industries to seek inspiration from disparate sources and, while ensuring the practical benefits of any collaboration, the CCI Exchange is proactive in making that possible. Through a raft of cross-disciplinary programmes uniting creative ambition with technical capability, it has created an environment that marries freedom to experiment with a clear focus on achieving goals and advancing the creative and cultural agenda. “Our projects are ideas led, but they won’t be successful unless there is academic commitment,” says Sue Hayton, Business Development Manager at CCI Exchange.
“What we’re trying to do is to take a strategic approach, to make sure that any opportunities, either from research or from the sector, are really responded to in the best way we can.” CCI Exchange was set up in 2011 in response to the demand for greater innovation from the creative and cultural industries as well as the desire within the University to demonstrate the strength and innovation of its research base. Though there has always been significant interaction between the arts faculties and associated industries, this tended to be where there was a personal interest to drive the collaboration. CCI Exchange has opened up this dialogue to a wider, pan-university audience that can help stimulate new ideas and new ways of working. “We work closely with other sector hubs to provide a range of perspectives and different skills,“ says Sue Hayton. “CCI companies often have all the technical or software knowledge but lack the content to apply this to. We’ve got content in abundance. At Leeds we’ve got loads of really interesting research and ideas so it makes sense to bring these together.” Brokering these relationships between academic and industry partners can be extremely complex, especially in the context of the rapid pace of evolution in this sector. For the recent Creative Labs project, CCI Exchange partnered with Caper Ltd to match university academics with individuals and organisations working with digital technologies. Sue Hayton explains: ”Caper understood the technical knowledge base and we have the arts expertise. We invited applications from
our faculties of Arts and Performance, Visual Arts and Communications (PVAC) academics, on one side, and from Leeds-based creative and tech companies on the other, and then carried out a matchmaking exercise to select the teams. For what was a pretty ambitious and untested format we were encouraged by the number of applications and have been delighted at the collaborations and creativity the Labs have stimulated.” The aims of the Creative Labs were to find new and innovative ways to interrogate data and to showcase academic research. Though the initial expectation was about establishing a dialogue and broadening partnerships, each of the four teams went on to work together to generate new ideas or product concepts. Some of these have since taken on a life of their own while others have sparked further collaborations, and all of them have led to a better understanding of how technology can impact on academic research activities.
I found the Leeds Creative Lab a very stimulating experience. Working with Ben Eaton, a games developer, we were able to explore some of the ethical issues surrounding the use of unmanned aerial systems (“drones”) in war. Kevin Macnish Teaching Fellow and Consultant Inter-Disciplinary Ethics Applied
q Photographs below are of projects supported through CCI Exchange: Elizabeth Gaston (Design) and Phoenix Dance, Colour Movements; Claudia Sternberg (Fine Arts, History of Art and Cultural Studies) with City Varieties and The Grand Theatre, Legacies of War; Claire Jones, Director, Museum of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (Philosophy,
Religion and History of Science) with Leeds Museums and Galleries, Domesticating Electricity; Mark Westgarth with partners in Hunslet and Holbeck, HHH, the Hunslet and Holbeck heritage project. Image of The Grand Theatre, ©Tony O’Connell.
“There is enormous interest from individuals and organisations within the CCI sector in working with higher education but they don’t necessarily have an easy point of entry,” says Sue Hayton. “CCI Exchange provides that and the Creative Labs provided a small bursary as encouragement but, more importantly, made it easy for them to engage with us in a more experimental fashion with the space to create something new and potentially groundbreaking.”
It is in their nature that arts-based projects do not always achieve such concrete results. The CCI Exchange manages to provide the opportunities for people to take a creative risk without there needing to be a ‘tangible’ end result. It is not always straightforward, as quantifying output can be difficult, but from the evidence of more than thirty collaborative partnerships established in the last two years, it is an approach that seems to be working.
sector hubs at the University of Leeds, of which the CCI Exchange is just one.
For CCI sector organisations, the research base and focus on ideas at Leeds is highly attractive and the Exchange provides them with the opportunity to experiment, innovate and build fruitful, long-term partnerships with some of the most creative minds in the industry.
I n d us trie s
Sue Hayton explains the impact this work could have; “That kernel of an idea and bringing that team together now has tremendous potential. Simon has recently submitted a major Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) application to further this research and to work with community partners, the BBC and Science Museum Group to fully develop Pararchive. He is also in talks to increase audience engagement with the photography collection at the Impressions Gallery in Bradford.”
Amanda Otley, Bloom Agency “People don’t necessarily come to us with a well-defined project or a named external partner, that’s something that we do for them,” says Sue Hayton. “What we offer is support in building relationships with external partners. Those often take you in an unexpected direction and enable academics to develop the external impact of their research in a way they may not have considered.”
One of the successes from the Creative Labs project is the Pararchive collaboration between Simon Popple, Senior Lecturer in Cinema and Director of Impact and Innovation, and digital technology experts Imran Ali, Tom Morgan and Dean Vipond. Structured around Simon’s research into democratic user content generation, the project looked at developing intuitive software that will allow users to create their own stories from personal and archive material without it being subjected to any curatorial intervention.
From an industry perspective it was extremely useful to be able to interact closely with academics in a partnership which helped each party understand the skills of the other and to produce something together.
University of Leeds
Experiencing Dante’s Florence
Research carried out by University of Leeds academics is directly benefitting the economy of one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations: the capital city of Tuscany – Florence.
The historic centre of Florence attracts millions of tourists each year, drawn to the city for its architecture and rich cultural history. The city was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in 1982, a status that preserves places of special cultural or physical significance for future generations. Tourism is the most important industry in Florence, with visitors outnumbering local residents from April to October each year. Cultural tourism is particularly strong, with large numbers flocking to the exhibits at the Uffizi Gallery and the Pitti Palace as well as the religious basilicas of Santa Croce and Santa Maria Novella. With cultural and historyoriented tourism generating a significant increase in spending throughout Europe, Florence’s city council - the Comune di Firenze - and the tourist board work hard to maintain Florence’s popularity and, notably, to attract repeat visitors. The key to attracting tourists back to Florence is to offer them something new, a more in-depth look at its history and culture that will build and deepen their relationship with the city.
u Dr Matthew Treherne, Co-Director of the Leeds Centre for Dante Studies
46 46 46
University of Leeds
Dr Matthew Treherne, Co-Director of the Leeds Centre for Dante Studies, has been working on a way to achieve this, together with his colleague and fellow Co-Director, Professor Claire Honess, post-doctoral researcher Dr Ruth Chester and undergraduate research scholar Lois Haines. Leeds research into the cultural and religious significance of the work of 13th-century Florentine poet Dante Alighieri has resulted in the creation of new materials in Italian and English, designed to give visitors to Florence an enriched experience. In collaboration with UNESCO and the Comune di Firenze, a brochure containing a detailed itinerary enabling tourists to experience the religious and intellectual sites key to Dante’s Florence will be distributed by the tourist information offices. Another publication, a glossy coffee-table style book on Dante’s Florence, is also planned, to appear in print and on the flagship “Florence Heritage” website. Dr Treherne believes these publications fill a gap: “Most information designed for visitors focuses on the Renaissance period of the 15th and 16th centuries, but there hasn’t been any material on the period when Dante was writing,” he explains.
“Dante is the equivalent of Shakespeare to Italians - if anything, he’s an even more important figure - and there is a rich seam of information and insight to be gained from examining Dante’s work and how his view of medieval Florence and its cultural and religious setting is still significant to people today.” Dante’s most well-known work, the Commedia or Divine Comedy, addressed the major scientific, political and religious questions of the day and is unlike anything that has come before, or since. In the first instance, Dante wrote in the Tuscan dialect instead of the more prestigious Latin. He ranged freely from the earthy language of the streets to the refined treatment of highly intellectual themes, which made the work shocking for its time and still takes readers by surprise today. The lack of detailed material for visitors has meant that the Leeds research is an invaluable resource for those interested in finding out more about Dante and medieval Florence. “We’ve compiled all the material in an accessible and coherent way,” says Dr Treherne. “We want visitors to be able to get a strong sense of what life was like in Dante’s Florence, and our research offers an excellent entry point to that world.”
Experiencing Dante’s Florence
The Leeds Centre for Dante Studies is the only research organisation to have contributed to UNESCO’s work on late medieval Florence, and the dedication of Dr Treherne and Professor Honess to the project – and to the city – is evident. “We want to continue contributing to the city by enriching the offering to tourists and increasing the numbers of repeat visitors who then build a deeper relationship with the city,” continues Dr Treherne. “We’re able to contribute to the economic strategy for Florence; this kind of collaboration is really unusual in Italy. Our aim is to bring Dante to life for the public in new and exciting ways, taking our expertise and love of our subject outside of traditional settings.” An important aspect of the Leeds work is aimed at understanding Dante’s religious context and, through this, his relevance to modern day faith groups and this is creating an impact closer to home. “In medieval Florence, religion was integrated into everyday life and ordinary people experienced religion in many different ways,” says Dr Treherne. “For example, in our itinerary of Dante’s Florence we’ve included a grain market which was believed to have been the site of a miracle. Every day, as business closed, religious songs would be performed in the market.”
Encouraged by the Bishop of Wakefield, Dr Treherne and Professor Honess have established a partnership with the Diocese of Wakefield, in particular working with the Mirfield Centre which offers day events, quiet days, short educational courses and residential courses to Christians from across Yorkshire and beyond. A course, Dante Now, was held at the Centre, focusing on how Dante’s engagement with his own religious context could be relevant to contemporary religious life. “Participants benefitted from engaging with the academics who shared their knowledge and insight of medieval Florence, connecting it with theological thinking, faith and religious experience today,” says Revd June Lawson, the Centre’s Director. Christian and Humanist ‘thinking groups’ have also been held in the local area, encouraging further engagement with Dante. “We tried to bring the Dante experience to life through performances of poetry and music,” says Dr Treherne. “We didn’t focus on the fine points of theology, but instead looked at religious culture and related it to faith groups today.”
This research complements the on-going Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)-funded project, Dante and Late Medieval Florence: Theology in Poetry, Practice and Society, a collaboration between the Universities of Leeds and Warwick in the UK and Notre Dame in the US. The project, which runs from February 2012 until September 2015, aims to provide the fullest possible understanding of religious life in Dante’s Florence. Research findings from the project have been brought to life with performances across the UK, allowing the audience to experience the language, writing and music of medieval Florence. Members of the University of Leeds Chamber Choir, together with trained readers in Italian from the School of Modern Languages, perform to make the works enjoyable and accessible by performing in Italian with English translations. Says Dr Treherne: “It’s important to get a feel of the language. Our research contributes to a rich encounter with Dante’s poetry which can benefit the public, bringing it closer to our lives and experience today.”
University of Leeds Leeds, United Kingdom LS2 9JT Tel. 0113 243 1751 www.leeds.ac.uk/impact