This year’s University Awards saw a joint win to the Chemistry Department and Warwick Ventures in the Research Contribution category for the creation of spinout Interface Polymers. Each year the awards recognise outstanding contribution of staff at Warwick across all departments.
Interface Polymers Ltd was born in Warwick’s Department of Chemistry after a breakthrough in polymer research by Dr Chris Kay and Professor Peter Scott. The two developed a range of customisable co-polymer additives which modify the surface properties of the most commonly used plastics enabling adhesion to otherwise incompatible materials. Applications of Interface Polymers’ Polarfin™ products include multi-layer packaging, improving paint adhesion and recycling of mixed plastic waste among others.
Warwick Ventures facilitated the creation of the company, by firstly awarding a Proof of Concept grant that helped demonstrate the use of the technology. Subsequently Dr Kay was enrolled on an entrepreneurship scheme with Innovate UK’s pilot ICURe programme (Innovation to Commercialisation of University Research). The programme involved developing key business skills and meeting with industry that en abled Dr Kay to demonstrate the market demand for the product. ICURe further provided additional funding to prepare a business plan with support from Warwick Ventures for establishing the spinout company. The business plan succeeded in winning a £500k grant from Innovate UK’s Aid for Start-ups programme. The company has gone on to raise nearly £3 million in investment.
This just goes to show the success ICURe can bring. This year the University of Warwick will work alongside the programme’s original delivery partner SETsquared Partnership and Queen’s University Belfast to run and grow the programme across the UK. The Midlands ICURe programme, led by Warwick Ventures, is open to all universities, but with a regional emphasis covering the mid-UK, from Wales to East Anglia. Further background from Innovate UK is here. The programme trains, funds and supports teams led by university early-career researchers (ECRs) to determine whether there is a market for products or services that utilise their research, science or technology. Up to £35,000 of funding is available to ‘get out of the lab’ and validate these commercially-promising ideas in the marketplace.
Guidance on Midlands ICURe and the application form can be found here.