New research projects seek to support Scottish innovation

New research projects seek to support Scottish innovation

Some of the brightest researchers from home and around the world will be able to develop their ideas here in Scotland, thanks to grants of almost £1million awarded by The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE). Innovative research in areas such as healthcare, the ageing population, communications, and the environment is to be supported through the RSE, in partnership with key funders in the public and private sectors. Over twenty five new awards are to be announced at the annual Research Awards Ceremony to be held at the RSE in George Street, Edinburgh on Wednesday 27 August 2003.

RSE President, Lord Sutherland of Houndwood said:
The RSE’s Research Awards support some of the most outstanding young scientists and innovators working in Scotland today. The benefits of their research are far-reaching, with work in areas such as healthcare, the environment and our ageing population, advancing the social and economic well-being of Scotland. It is only through valuable partnerships with key bodies such as BP, the Caledonian Research Foundation, the Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland, PPARC, Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Executive and the Wellcome Trust that we are able to provide these awards. To each of these partners, we offer our sincere thanks. The Research Awardees for 2003 have attained a standard of excellence, which does them and their research institutions credit and I wish them every success.

The Organisations and Trusts which fund the RSE to administer these awards are:

BP
The Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland
The Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council (PPARC)
The Scottish Executive Enterprise Transport and Life Long Learning Department (ETLLD)
Scottish Enterprise

The latest funding is part of the RSE’s successful Research Awards scheme which supports exceptionally talented academics and potential entrepreneurs. With support from The Scottish Executive and a broad range of private and charitable bodies, these highly competitive awards enable people with good ideas, across a spectrum of disciplines to research and develop their work for the good of Scotland and beyond.

A full summary of the new projects follows:

BP Personal Research Fellowship

Dr Darrel A Swift. Antiquity and severity of glacial erosion in Greenland. University of Glasgow
A fundamental issue in understanding the nature of global climate change is the role played by glacial erosion in changing levels of atmospheric CO2 (a major greenhouse gas). Increasing the rate of erosion of the Earth’s surface is a powerful way of altering global climate over long timescales because it accelerates the weathering of silicate minerals. This process consumes CO2 from the atmosphere and ultimately deposits it in the oceans as limestone, leading to cooling of the Earth’s surface. Erosion has been widely assumed to increase under the alpine-style, ‘valley’ glaciation characteristic of the European Alps or Himalayas, and is believed to have played a significant role in lowering atmospheric temperatures to the cool, glacial climates of the present day. The role of much larger ice sheets, such as the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets and those that covered large areas of the northern hemisphere during the past ~ 5 million years, has been largely overlooked because they have generally been assumed to be ineffective agents of erosion. However, there is evidence for rapid erosion around the North Atlantic region during the last 10 million years that has lead to speculation that large ice sheets may be as erosive as their smaller, alpine counterparts. This research will use apatite (U-Th)/He thermochronometry (or apatite helium thermochronometry) to pioneer a new approach that will investigate the timing and intensity of ice sheet glaciation in Greenland over the last 10 million years.

Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland Research Studentships

Mr Stephen H Butler. Is there a dissociation between visual search and Visuomotor control in hemispatial neglect? University of Glasgow
Stroke is one of the major causes of disability in the elderly population, leaving many of those who do not die of it permanently dependent on carers. Moreover, the majority of people who suffer from a stroke to the right half of their brain experience an inability to respond to events in the left half of their subjective space. Such patients fail to notice objects on their left although they are not blind. They also show a very poor recovery from their stroke, with a much-reduced quality of life compared to other stroke patients. However, it seems that although such patients no longer perceive objects correctly, they can still grasp them and indeed a training of grasping seems to improve their space perception. The planned experiments are designed to investigate this issue. Is it the case that these patients are less impaired in tasks that require action (for example grasping) than tasks that require visual search (finding objects in a cluttered environment)? Is it possible that parts of their visual systems are still working (parts dealing with actions such as reaching and grasping)? If it is correct, as we hope, then these systems can be systematically activated for rehabilitation of space perception in future large-scale rehabilitation studies, leading to improved quality of life for this group of patients.

Ms Paula Cox. Autobiographical Recollections and Quality of Life Across the Lifespan. University of Aberdeen.

Autobiographical memory is essential for a good quality of life, as it allows us to replay and re-evaluate previously experienced events in our lives. It is essential for the establishment of a coherent life story, development of a sense of self and for the establishment of social bonds. The main objective of the proposed research is to examine age-related changes in the phenomenological experience of autobiographical recollections in younger and older adults and determine how this is linked to quality of life. This will be examined in terms of the subjective vividness of memories during recall and the associated emotional response. The research programme will improve our knowledge about the effects of age on the subjective experience of autobiographical recollection. The knowledge gained will have implications for how individuals edit and update the memory of their own life history across the lifespan, and how this impacts on the assessment of quality of life during old age.

Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland Personal Research Fellowship

Dr Val Mann. Molecular and Genetic Basis of Ageing and Disease : Related Changes in the Functional Adaptation of Bone. University of Edinburgh.

As we age, we experience a steady loss in the strength of our bone. The clinical outcome of this decline in bone strength is often fragility fracture and it is estimated that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 12 men over the age of 50 will suffer a fracture. At the moment we predict those at risk of fracture based on the amount of bone present by bone mineral density measurements. However, evidence suggests that the structural organisation and the number of live cells within bone may be a more accurate predictor of bone strength and therefore an individual’s risk of fracture. Sensor cells within bone (osteocytes) "feel" the demand for more bone in response to mechanical loading (exercise) and tell other cells to build bone in the right place. As we age we lose the numbers of sensor cells and also the ability to respond correctly to exercise by building new bone. We will use state-of-the-art equipment capable of keeping human bone biopsies alive to monitor the number and response to exercise of sensor cells in bone from different individuals. By combining this information with genetic analysis we will find out whether certain members of the population are, by virtue of their genetic makeup, more or less responsive to exercise and whether this difference can be explained by the numbers of sensor cells present in bone. An understanding of the biological importance of these cells will lead to improved methods for prediction and prevention of fracture in our rapidly-expanding elderly population.

ETLLD Personal Research Fellowships

Dr Nikolaj Gadegaard. The influence of nanotopography on proteins and cells. University of Glasgow.
Using today’s state-of-the-art nano fabrication facilities available at the University of Glasgow, it is now possible to fabricate surfaces with well-defined patterns which have dimensions down to 10 nanometres. This is the size of small proteins – nature’s own nanoparticles. Previous experiments have demonstrated that regular arrays of nano pits, 100 nanometres in diameter, dramatically reduce adhesion of cells. However, at present it is not well understood what the underlying physical mechanisms are. This project aims to understand the underlying interactions between cells and proteins with nanostructured materials. Supported by initial experiments, knowledge gained from this would benefit future development of biomedical implants.

Dr Gail McConnell. Application of nonlinear photonic crystal fibres to the imaging of cell activity in cardiovascular tissues. University of Strathclyde.
In recent years a number of revolutionary, high-resolution, biological optical imaging techniques have been developed that have significant impact for in vivo, real time medical diagnosis. Redeploying this technology from the research laboratory to a more routine clinical environment is currently limited by the cost and complexity of the instrumentation, in particular the specialised laser light sources required. Advances in optical fibre structures, which have evolved from growth in the telecommunication systems industry, may hold a key to solving this technology transfer dilemma. This proposal aims to exploit the pioneering research in fibre-optic technology to create improved laser-based imaging techniques for both biomedical research and inexpensive, general clinical diagnosis.

Dr Abbie Mclaughlin. The Synthesis, Structure and Physical Properties of Mixed Transition Oxide Materials. University of Aberdeen.
Interesting physical phenomena are observed at the metal insulator boundary in transition metal oxides, that is, as the material changes from a metal to an insulator. This can be accomplished by changes in temperature, pressure or chemical composition. High temperature superconductivity and colossal magneto resistance (CMR) are two such phenomena. A superconductor is a material that has zero electrical resistance and at present the main applications of such materials are as a winding for high-field magnets used in NMR and MRI. A CMR material shows a large reduction in resistivity upon application of a magnetic field and hence can be used in electromagnetic devices, such as a magnetic switch or in magnetic storage devices. There has been little work on layered transition metal oxides containing the elements iridium, osmium and rhenium; the magnetic properties of the few materials synthesised are intriguing. In this research new layered transition metal oxides containing the elements iridium, osmium and rhenium will be synthesised in order to study the exotic magnetic and electronic properties found at the metal insulator boundary.

Dr Linda Kirstein. Evolution of drainage networks in collisional settings. University of Edinburgh.
The interplay of tectonics and landscape development has long been recognised but it is only recently that the importance of climate as a macroscale driving force has been accepted. Collisional tectonic settings display not only marked topographic asymmetry, but also asymmetric development of drainage patterns, e.g. in Taiwan. Precipitation is commonly perceived as a driving force behind the asymmetry observed, with high precipitation resulting in rapidly-eroding, steeper terrains drained by short, linear streams and the drier side drained by more mature branching stream networks. However, numerical modelling suggests that this asymmetry may alternatively be a response to the horizontal advection of topography. The key objective of this research is to determine the relative roles of tectonic processes and precipitation in shaping the form of drainage basins. Clearly, advancing our understanding of this area of tectonic geomorphology would provide greater constraints for future modelling of natural hazards such as slope instability. This research addresses one key scientific challenge facing the Earth Sciences community, that is, to understand the interaction and feedback between landform, tectonics and climate.

Dr David Manlove. Efficient Algorithms for Matching Problems. University of Glasgow.
Matching problems arise in large-scale computational applications such as automated matching schemes, which assign agents together (for example, school-leavers to universities) based on their preferences over one another. In Scotland, the USA and Canada, for example, centralised automated matching schemes annually construct allocations of graduating medical students to hospital posts, taking into account the preferences of students over hospitals and vice versa. Given the implications of an agent’s allocation in a matching for their quality of life, it is of paramount importance that the algorithms (computer programs) that drive such applications are as effective as possible in optimising the satisfaction of the agents according to their preference lists. Additionally, given the large numbers of participants typically involved in such matching schemes, it is vital to ensure that the algorithms are as efficient as possible. The aim of this research project is to design, implement and evaluate experimentally new, efficient and effective algorithms for matching problems. These algorithms aim to improve the quality of life for participants involved in matching schemes by providing them with a greater degree of flexibility when expressing preferences, and by optimising their assignment in a constructed matching.

ETLLD Support Research Fellowships

Professor Desmond Higham. Computational Algorithms for Complex Interactions. University of Strathclyde.
This research project on Computational Algorithms for Complex Interactions will study the mathematics behind the type of connections that are seen in everyday life, and the type of algorithms that are needed to exploit those connections. The work will focus on two areas: web search engine technology, where new web pages need to be hunted out and matched for relevance against a user’s query, and bioinformatics, where a high-level picture about how the body functions must be drawn from detailed connectivity information about individual genes and proteins. The research will contribute to the transfer of leading-edge mathematics and computer science research to high-tech business and medicine.

Dr Xavier Lambin. Density dependence in dispersal and population dynamics. University of Aberdeen.
Understanding the processes that determine the changes in abundance of populations of interacting animal species is essential to predict the impact of global change on biodiversity in Scotland and the spread of emerging pathogens carried by wildlife. This project will investigate the influence of animal movements on the interactions between predators and prey and pathogens and hosts on the dynamics of species living in habitats subjected to different levels of fragmentation. Ecological theory and new statistical techniques that can be used to fit mathematical models to empirical data will shed light on two issues of societal relevance:

  • The possibility that the cumulative impact of short-distance movement by rodents results in waves of rodent-borne infections, and associated disease risk to humans, sweeping at regular intervals over large areas.
  • The effectiveness of control of American mink, an invading predator, as practised by game-keepers, in mitigating the impact of this alien predator on populations of the highly-endangered water vole still surviving in the Scottish Highlands.

Dr Colin Pulham. Modification of intermolecular interactions using high pressures. University of Edinburgh.
The structure of solid materials is governed by the magnitude and type of forces between atoms and molecules. These forces are strongly dependent on the distances between atoms and molecules, and so are strongly influenced by the application of high pressures in the range 1000-100,000 atmospheres. Such pressures are easily obtained using a diamond-anvil cell, in which the sample is squeezed between the faces of two small diamonds. The technique is therefore an unrivalled means of altering the way that atoms and molecules pack together. Different packing arrangements (termed polymorphs) may result in substantial changes in the physical properties of materials. The identification of polymorphs is particularly important in the pharmaceutical industry because two polymorphs of the same drug molecule may have very different physical properties that affect processibility (e.g. tabletting) or uptake by the body. Intellectual property can also become an issue for the pharmaceutical companies who develop and market new drug products, where challenges to patents have been made on the basis of the discovery of a new polymorph. One of the objectives of this research is to develop the use of high-pressure techniques for the rapid preparation, identification, and characterisation of new polymorphs of pharmaceutical compounds. It is anticipated that this will be of substantial interest to pharmaceutical companies and that collaborative and commercialisation opportunities will arise.

CRF Biomedical Fellowships

Dr Jeremy Sanford. To explore the cytoplasmic functions of shuttling pre-mRNA splicing factors. Western General Hospital, Edinburgh.
Using powerful proteomic and genomic technologies, this project seeks to improve understanding of the regulation of the gene expression. Although much is known about the ‘switching on and off’ of the genes controlling the synthesis of messenger RNA (mRNA), very little is known about what controls the events which result in mRNA programming protein synthesis in cells. Newly-synthesised mRNA is known to progress through several processing stages before it moves out from the nucleus and into the cytoplasm, to programme protein synthesis. Several mRNA binding proteins are involved in the process: some of which only function at a discrete step, while others remain associated with the mRNA throughout and ‘shuttle’ between the cell nucleus and surrounding cytoplasm. It is these latter binding proteins which will be the subject of this research as it tries to clarify the exact nature of their role.

Dr Damien Hudson. For a genetic analysis of essential genes involved in chromosome structure and segregation in vertebrate cells. University of Edinburgh.
For normal cell division (mitosis) to take place, the DNA molecule within the nucleus has to be condensed 10,000-fold, creating the rod-shaped chromosomes which can be copied and then separated into two new nuclei. While the fact of this is known, what remains to be clarified are the mechanisms by which this shortening of the DNA molecule and the establishment of the characteristic structure of the chromosomes occurs. Condensin is a protein complex that has recently been shown to play an essential part in these processes. This research will involve using a combination of biochemical, proteomic, structural and genetic analysis techniques to break this complex down into its constituent proteins. From this, we would hope to identify which are important in the process of defining the structure of the chromosomes just prior to cell division.

Scottish Enterprise Enterprise Fellowships

Microelectronics

Dr Mark Cowper. Personal alarm for the elderly. University of Edinburgh.
The aim of this Enterprise Fellowship is to commercialise a novel personal alarm system, which will provide enhanced communications and improved functionality compared to what is already on the market. The purpose of the alarm is to enable the elderly to maintain independent lives in their own homes.

Dr Yinshui Xia. EDA tool for logic synthesis and optimisation . Napier University.
Electronic design automation (EDA) is an enabling technology for the electronics industry. Without EDA tools, it would be too expensive, too time-consuming or outright impossible for companies to design and manufacture complex electronic devices. As electronic chips and systems become increasingly sophisticated, optimising area and power consumption has been one of the most important objectives in electronic design. This project is going to commercialise a novel synthesis and optimisation tool. This will enable the electronic industry to achieve economies of design time, production cost, power savings and chip area.

Optoelectronics

Dr Richard Abrams. Optically Pumped Tunable Semiconductor Lasers. University of Strathclyde.
We aim to commercialise a new generation of laser that represents a paradigm shift in laser technology. The new type of laser we are proposing utilises semiconductor technology with a new advanced design approach. The flexibility of this design approach will allow realisation of a vast range of laser products addressing an array of laser markets. The laser technology, optically pumped semiconductor, vertical external cavity surface emitting lasers (VECSEL), bridge a technology gap between semiconductor diode lasers and solid state lasers, combining the advantages of each. World wide there is a large number of research groups (universities, government laboratories and industrial research facilities) working in the research field of high-resolution spectroscopy including atom trapping and experimental quantum optics. Advances in this research over the past decade have been quite remarkable. It is now possible to manipulate and cool atoms and ions to within a few micro-Kelvin of absolute zero of temperature to create a new state of matter through Bose-Einstein condensation. Our initial commercial goal is to supply this research community with cost-effective research tools in the form of a VECSEL based laser systems.

Dr David Stothard. Continuous wave optical parametric oscillator: a new opportunity in an untapped spectral region. University of St Andrews.
Since their invention in the early sixties, the application of lasers to solve real life problems has been limited by the power and the wavelength (colour) of the light a given system can produce. There are many laser systems available today which produce a very wide range of wavelengths, from the ultra-violet, through the visible and into the near-infrared. Laser systems which operate in the mid-infrared spectral region, however, are very rare and tend to produce power at very low levels. This is very inconvenient in the application of laser systems to several important areas as many important gases have strong absorption features in this region. We have demonstrated a laser system which converts light from a well-established laser operating in the near-infrared to longer wavelengths which are unobtainable by conventional systems. For the first time, it is now possible to market a system which offers significant power levels and broad wavelength tunability in this important spectroscopic range.

We have used this system to construct an imaging system for the rapid detection of methane; a typical use for a laser system such as this. Although invisible to the eye, methane absorbs light very strongly in the mid-infrared and so, using the laser system we have developed as a ‘torch’ with which to illuminate the scene, and a mid-infrared video camera, we can very rapidly detect not only the presence of methane, but where it is and where it is leaking from. One can see that in a large factory the task of locating a gas leak is reduced from hours, or even days, to minutes, as the gas engineer can now ‘see’ the gas.

Dr Keith Symington. Dynamic Serial Optical Interconnect (DSOI). Heriot-Watt University.
This commercialisation project aims to implement a next-generation protocol-agile serial optical interconnect component. An emerging market niche has been identified into which this product will be targeted. It is disruptive in nature and will open the new market between telecoms and traditional parallel all-electrical transmission. The device is an important stepping stone, enabling the movement from solely electrical short range interconnects to inevitable high bandwidth optical solutions. It is constructed from proven components, creating a low cost, tolerance-insensitive part that is both fibre- and waveguide-compatible. The key advantage of this product is that optoelectronics are used in a manner that is both cost-effective and technologically elegant.

Electronics

Mr Christos Kapatos. A digital system for assessing an amputee’s residual limb and for the production of functional prosthetic sockets University of Strathclyde.
The number of amputees world-wide is estimated to be 10 million. In the UK, there are about 62,000 amputees.

The aim of a prosthesis is to replace, as best as possible, the function and normal appearance lost by amputation. In general terms, the prosthesis represents an important aid which facilitates physical, social and psychological rehabilitation following the loss of a limb. It is, therefore, understandable that an effective rehabilitation programme is one of the most essential stages of an amputee’s post-amputation period.

In general, a prosthetic limb comprises a socket enclosing the amputee’s residual limb and the prosthesis "hardware" (e.g. artificial knee joint, artificial foot or arm). If the prosthesis is uncomfortable to wear or difficult to control, then the amputee is less inclined to make good use of it. Of the whole prosthesis, the socket is the critical element of a successful prosthesis, as it is the sole means of load transfer between the prosthesis and the residual limb. This commercialisation project aims to introduce an advanced method for successful rehabilitation of amputees, by introducing a "standardised" and scientific procedure of examining amputees’ residual limbs and producing truly functional and comfortable prosthetic sockets. Providing an optimum fit, comfort and functionality in the prosthesis should greatly increase the chances of success of the amputees’ rehabilitation, both physical and psychological.

A properly fitting socket will not only benefit the elderly amputees that form the greatest proportion of the amputee population, but also the younger, active group, since currently experienced difficulties, such as pain, tissue damage and walking abnormalities might lead them to abandon their prostheses and become dependent on other means of assistance e.g. wheelchair use.

Mr Danny Rafferty. Meaningful Measurement for Rehabilitation, Sport, and Fitness & Leisure activities. Glasgow Caledonian University.
The significance of quantifying balance both to Healthcare providers and in the Sports, and Fitness & Leisure markets must not be under-estimated. Balance and control of movement is being increasingly recognised as a key factor in performance. Balance rehabilitation and quantification has applications through a wide range of client groups, from patients recovering from stroke to elite athletes. An Instrumented Balance Assessment and Rehabilitation System (IBars) has been designed, and constructed. IBars quantifies core dynamic balance of a subject hence allowing the operator to chart and monitor progress and to set goals for achievement. The system is portable, affordable, and reliability and validity has been established. The aim of the project is to commercialise IBars and establish a company trading in devices and services for the Healthcare, Sports, and Fitness & Leisure markets.

Mr Roderick Sutherland. Development of an Intelligent Audio Analysis System. Institute for System Level Integration.
Industrial-related hearing loss is currently the most common cause of industrial-related injuries in the UK. In the UK alone, this accounts for an average of £355m p.a. in industrial related injury payouts. These figures are similar throughout the developed countries of the world. The Intelligent Audio Analysis System will provide a cost-effective and flexible method for employers to conduct a hearing screening programme on their employees. Most importantly, the system can be operated by a relatively inexperienced operator, but at the same time still provide a high level of system accuracy. In addition, the system will also comply with all Health & Safety Executive and British Society of Audiology recommendations and specifications regarding the operation of a hearing screening programme.

Energy

Mr Gordon Jahn. Power system protection - Protection Relay Integrated Modelling Environment (PRIME). University of Strathclyde.
The aim of the PRIME project is to build an integrated software suite to assist power system engineers in both the design and verification of the protection schemes that help control the increasingly complex power networks supplying homes and businesses around the world. These protection schemes help protect both public safety and the expensive assets owned and managed by power companies, but must also be set correctly to prevent blackouts like those experienced recently in the north-eastern US. Smaller generators and increasing amounts of renewable generation will both lead to power companies having to reassess their protection systems and PRIME can provide the accurate simulations of protection systems power companies will need.

Biotechnology

Dr Alison Blackwell. Intelligent Insect Solutions. University of Edinburgh.

The global pest control market (valued at > $20bn) is currently facing a crisis in relation to the availability of effective control products, arising from increasing concern over the environmental impact of chemical products, regulations restricting product use and also, increasing levels of resistance of many pests to conventional control products. During this Fellowship, Dr Blackwell, who is internationally recognised for her work on biting midges, will be addressing this window of opportunity, building on a substantial amount of research on alternative methods of biting insect control. A number of different research threads will be brought together to provide a focal point for research, consultancy, and information and advice with respect to insect problems worldwide. The primary economic benefit will be the formation of a unique Scottish company with the potential to become a leading, international player in insect control. At the core of the project is a unique, patented technology which is being developed as a new pest-control tool. This is based on destruction of the life-supporting mechanisms of some of the most important groups of insect pests. These mechanisms consist of bacteria living within these insects in a symbiotic relationship, providing essential nutrients without which the insects cannot survive and reproduce. The technique being commercialised involves removal of these bacteria using naturally-occurring, safe and extremely specific agents called bacteriophage. Key targets include cockroaches, aphids and the house-dust mite; the major cause of childhood asthma. Closer to home, the Scottish midge is also under the spotlight, including the incorporation of an attractant bait developed by Dr Blackwell into a recently-launched trapping system.

Dr Iain Greig. A New Route to the Treatment of Osteoporosis. University of Aberdeen.
Our group specialises in the study and treatment of bone diseases. Of these the most common is osteoporosis. This is a painful and debilitating disease affecting 30% of women and 12% of men over the age of 55. Of equal significance, it is estimated that more than double this number of people is at risk of developing the disease. It involves a loss of bone density, which leads to weak, structurally-unstable bone, susceptible to repeated fracture. Sites most at risk are the spine, hip and wrist. The development is most notable in women following the menopause. Current therapies are unsatisfactory due to health risks, unpleasant side effects and concerns over long-term use. We have discovered a completely new molecular target for the treatment of bone disease and developed drugs to act upon this target. These drugs have been shown to completely reverse post-menopausal bone loss in animal models. As this treatment is totally unrelated to those currently used, we are confident that it will not show any of their side effects. Consequently our drugs are not only a major advance in the treatment of osteoporosis but are also the first preventative therapy suitable for use in healthy individuals.

Mr Donald McPhail. OxyProTec Informed Antioxidant Drug Discovery – Targeting Free Radicals in Disease (Rowett Research Institute and University of Glasgow).
Free radicals are highly-reactive chemical species that can cause severe damage to biological molecules and cells. Under normal conditions they are continually formed in small amounts from the oxygen that we breathe. The body is protected by elaborate defence systems of which dietary antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, play an essential role. However, there is growing evidence that in a number of clinical conditions, including stroke and Alzheimer’s disease, abnormally high free radical production occurs that completely overwhelms the natural antioxidant defences. The resulting damage, whether directly to human cells or by disruption of the body’s normal chemical processes, appears to contribute to the disease itself. Consequently, there is considerable medical interest in using antioxidants, along with conventional drugs, in the treatment of these conditions. Natural antioxidants have had limited success in this respect resulting in a requirement for the design of high-potency, therapeutic agents that are targeted to the sites of radical production and attack and, importantly, can cross rapidly from the bloodstream into the brain. Scottish Enterprise Proof of Concept funding has allowed a unique collaboration to be established in which the Rowett Research Institute’s extensive knowledge of plant-derived antioxidants has been combined with the synthetic and medicinal chemistry expertise of the University of Glasgow. This has resulted in the design of a new class of bioactive compound with therapeutic potential. OxyProTec is a joint venture being established by the two institutions to drive forward novel molecule design concepts and commercialise drug candidates in this potentially lucrative, and as yet untapped, therapeutic area.

Creative Industries

Mr Matthew Seeney. Team Play Learning Dynamics. University of Abertay.
Team Play Learning Dynamics (TPLD) are leading providers of game-based training software to organisations looking for an innovative solution to team training and soft skills development. As the founding director, Matt Seeney designed and produced "Infiniteams", a product to achieve these goals. Infiniteams is currently being beta tested at the corporate level by a number of organisations, including IBM, KPMG and Scottish Enterprise. TPLD are at the forefront of cutting-edge research being conducted into the use of computer games for teaching and training. This highly engaging platform is an ideal delivery method for the transfer of essential knowledge and skills in the workplace; providing increased levels of motivation for learners of a new generation. A very large, and as yet un-tapped, market exists for products of this type, and so far the level of interest and positive feedback from our target audience has been extremely encouraging. This commercialisation project is intended to allow TPLD to explore other markets throughout the world, along with secondary targets and educational uses for our products.

Software

Dr Sabrina Malpede. Sail Design Software. University of Strathclyde.
Sail design is still based almost entirely on the co-operative efforts of enthusiastic skippers, designers and sail-makers, with very little contribution from scientists and technologists. The proposed project intends to commercialise a software created to aid the imagination and the genius of sail-designers and sail-makers to design new sails and/or to improve their existing designs, by simulating their behaviour in realistic sailing conditions. The benefits are the reduction of the actual costs of the sail-prototype manufacture and tests on the boat, the improved quality of the sails’ performance and, therefore, the customer relationship. The commercialisation project is intended also to develop from the main existent core a diversified range of software packages to be used to design sails and explore new market opportunities for different applications.

 

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