Biotech breakthroughs prominent in £25K award shortlist

4 Jul 2011

Health and life sciences innovations feature strongly in the shortlist for the annual £25k Awards organised by NISP Connect in Northern Ireland, announced today.

Among the 10 finalists, there are four biotechnology projects that have the potential to change the face of various biomedical industries, including animal vaccines, cancer diagnostics and heart disease treatment, as well as a number of other health-related innovations.

The £25K Awards are sponsored by Bank of Ireland UK, Queen’s University Belfast, University of Ulster and AFBI (Agri Food and Biosciences Institute) and the shortlisted teams fall under four categories: Hitech, Biotech, Cleantech and Digital Media.

“With Northern Ireland embarking on a new growth path in the knowledge-based sectors, now more than ever we need to recognise and harness local talent and encourage researchers and individuals to act on their ideas and energy to produce tomorrow’s leading commercial opportunities,” said director of NISP Connect, Steve Orr.

“What is notable from this year’s shortlist is the presence of a vibrant innovation gene within the life sciences and broader healthcare fields, both of which offer huge global potential.” 

The finalists are:


  • Gensafe, AFBI/SiSaf/UU: GenSafe, a next-generation controlled-release drug delivery system for the animal health market
  • Lewis Fertility Testing, QUB: SpermComet, a novel biomarker for male infertility which helps to diagnose infertility and predict treatment success
  • RegenaGraft, UU: A synthetic and implantable heart valve that combines the benefits of current replacements without any of their associated disadvantages, such as clotting
  • OncoTech, QUB: Ran Biomarker, a diagnostic assay suitable for both tissue and blood that can identify cancer patients at high risk of metastasis


  • Protective Devices, QUB: Compep, glove to protect jet pilots against chemical warfare agents while uniquely allowing moisture to pass through
  • Flish, QUB: A high gain antenna which has the ability to ‘point’ to distant signals, such as a satellite, without the need for alignment


  • BMT, QUB: A device for measuring the temperature of a polymer preform profile during the injection stretch blow moulding process largely used in the multi-billion pound packaging industry
  • Extremogen, QUB: VAPOGENE, a molecular biology tool used in the selection process of the best-in-class biocatalysts for bioprocessing

Digital Media and Software

  • Warfarin Intelligent Alerts, HSC Innovations: A software application which will support the biomarker International Normalised Ratio (INR) therapeutic targets to prevent blood clotting associated complications and allow for 24/7 medical monitoring
  • Clinical Communicator, HSC/ C-TRIC &Altnagelvin: Future Healthcare NI Ltd have developed a hosted clinical dashboard on the cloud platform, which works as an accident reporting tool, task management tool and a change management tool.

The overall winners of the £25K Awards will be announced on 29 September 2011 at the Northern Ireland Science Park.

Photo: Adel O’Neil from Lenis Aer, winning team of the 2010 Awards, Clare Guinness, regional business manager, Bank of Ireland UK and Dr Elaine O’Neill, programme manager, NISP Connect