University of Dundee

Funding supports high-growth spinouts

06 Nov 2020

Three spinout projects from the University of Dundee with the potential to deliver significant healthcare benefits have received more than £250,000 from Scottish Enterprise to support their development.

Softech received funding via Scottish Enterprise’s in-year High Growth Spin-out Programme (HGSP) while RNACapRx and Data Driven Health Solutions received support as part of an additional funding package for innovative early stage businesses whose routes to investment and growth have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Anne Muir, Head of IP and Commercialisation at Dundee, said, “The University of Dundee continues to excel in translating its innovative, world-class research into commercial outputs with the potential to impact on health globally. These awards show the breadth of opportunities coming from our scientists, from med tech to therapeutics to AI. We have a venture pipeline that is growing despite the pandemic and it’s exciting to see new companies start to form which will then significantly impact on the local economy.”

Softech, led by Dr Luigi Manfredi at the University’s School of Medicine, is developing a disposable, low-cost soft robot for colorectal cancer screening and treatment. The current gold standard procedure can cause pain and discomfort, carries inherent risks, and is expensive. Softech’s device will reduce pain, avoid cross-contamination, and facilitate screening for and treatment of colorectal cancer, the third most common cause of cancer death worldwide.

Research at the School of Medicine is centred on data-driven health and digital applications to improve treatment methods and, ultimately, lives. The Data Driven Health Solutions team, led by Professor Colin Palmer and Professor Emily Jefferson, have developed an artificial intelligence system to accelerate the detection of disease, identify personalised treatment plans, and support clinical decision making.

RNACapRx, at the School of Life Sciences, will build on Dundee’s established drug discovery infrastructure to develop small molecule inhibitors targeting a family of enzymes known to play a role in diseases such as cancer, inflammatory diseases and neurodegenerative conditions.  RNACapRx’s lead programme is focused on a subset of cancers and, ultimately, the team will deliver candidate drugs with potential applications in a number of diseases. The project is being driven by Professor Victoria Cowling and colleagues at the Drug Discovery Unit.

Scottish Enterprise’s HGSP supports the commercialisation of leading-edge technologies emerging from Scotland's universities, research institutes and NHS Boards. It helps researchers to export their ideas and inventions from the lab to the global marketplace. RNACapRx and Data Driven Health Solutions have benefitted from an additional multi-million pound package of HGSP support made available by the Scottish Government to help start-up companies and university spinout projects to grow in the wake of Covid-19.