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Chemistry and Warwick Ventures

Chemistry and Warwick Ventures pilot way to develop Early Career Researchers and win £500k to achieve impact

Researchers in the Department of Chemistry have achieved the holy grail of making commodity plastics that can be more easily mixed, painted and joined.

Professor Peter Scott, working with doctoral student Chris Kay, has developed a commercially-viable range of customisable additives, named PolarfinsTM that change the surface properties of plastics to make them more attractive to other materials.

Chemistry and Warwick Ventures

Chris Kay

Working with Warwick Ventures, the University’s technology translation office, the team has set out to achieve impact from this technology. The journey started with a University Proof-of-concept grant to successfully demonstrate the use of the technology and secure the intellectual property. This enthused Chris, having completed his PhD, to want to take the product into the market place and see the benefits of the technology being used globally. The question was how to give him the skills and resources to do so.

With the help of their contacts in the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, Warwick Ventures managed to get Chris on an entrepreneurship scheme called ICURe (Innovation to Commercialisation of University Research), funded by HEFCE and InnovateUK, which is being piloted by the SETsquared group of Universities. Chris and the team were one of the first non-SETsquared attendees. During an intensive training boot-camp Chris was given the skills, resources and support to spend three months travelling the world with the aim of interviewing at least 100 potential commercial users of his technology and demonstrating its market demand.

Armed with this information, the team developed a business plan for a new University of Warwick spin-out, Interface Polymers Ltd, which would develop customised Polarfins™ to make the novel plastic alloys and composite materials that the market wants. The team went on to pitch this plan to InnovateUK, and win a £500k un-matched grant as seed-funding for the spin-out. Chris is delighted. “InnovateUK’s ICURe programme has given us a great start both financially and in helping us develop our industry contacts and get ’beyond academia’, he says. “We have already had a lot of interest from target customers and plastics processors and are in discussion with potential investors to raise matching funds to enable us to get pilot scale trials underway.”

With this impressive result Warwick Ventures has been keen to help develop other Early Career Researchers and teams, to develop their enterprise capabilities, technologies and customer networks. Two other Warwick teams have now attended ICURe and are pitching their business plans and Warwick Ventures are engaging Early Career Researchers and Principal Investigators through a variety of pilot programmes to support, then plan and attain impact from their research, under the banner of Warwick i2i: Innovation to Impact.

For more information on PolarfinsTM contact:

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