KE Proof of Concept Case Study
Project title - "Block copolymers for chemical and biomedical uses"
This Proof of Concept grant was invaluable in helping us to secure the strongest possible IP position in the limited time available. Moreover, it has substantially strengthened our existing relationships with both Lubrizol and GEO, while also indirectly leading to a new collaboration with GE Healthcare.
Professor STEVE ARMES
Professor Steve Armes
Department of Chemistry
A KE Proof of Concept grant helped continue world-leading research in the field of polymerisation-induced self-assembly (PISA). This new synthetic approach provides a highly efficient, versatile and generic route to organic nanoparticles for a wide range of potential applications.
The Proof of Concept scheme supports academic staff to develop ideas that would benefit from a significant step forward in their route towards commercialisation and delivering impact. It enabled Professor Armes and his team to generate further data to support patent applications, leading to strengthened industrial partnerships and securing follow-on funding
Two related projects meant that Professor Armes was able to prepare two well-exemplified patent applications. Work in the first project generated additional examples that disclosed the synthesis of diblock copolymer nanoparticles in non-polar media. Such nanoparticles have potential applications as engine oil lubricants or viscosity modifiers. The second project involved the demonstration of cheaper syntheses of thermo-responsive block copolymer worm gels in water for potential biomedical applications.
Such successful research has significantly enhanced the existing relationships that the Armes group has with industrial partners The Lubrizol Corporation and GEO Specialty Chemicals, leading global chemical companies who are becoming more involved in new research projects. Lubrizol currently supports a £90k PhD studentship on block copolymer nanoparticles as engine oil additives. With this nearing completion and proving to be scientifically very fruitful, the corporation has agreed to fund a follow-on £96k PhD studentship in the same area.
Similarly, Professor Armes’s relationship with GEO Specialty Chemicals is now much stronger thanks to this KE grant. The company is funding a new £40k Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) PhD project to start in October 2015. Its financial support has also been essential in securing a £653k EPSRC HIPS grant, which focuses on evaluating block copolymer worm gels for biomedical applications (including the potential of long-term storage media for human stem cells). Multinational transformational medical technology specialist GE Healthcare is also involved in this project.
Professor Armes said: “This Proof of Concept grant was invaluable in helping us to secure the strongest possible IP position in the limited time available. Moreover, it has substantially strengthened our existing relationships with both Lubrizol and GEO, while also indirectly leading to a new collaboration with GE Healthcare.”