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Gateway Fund supports entrepreneurial projects

Posted on 28/03/2012

Three pioneering projects at Royal Holloway, University of London have been given a cash boost thanks to the Gateway Fund which was set up by the College and Honorary Fellow Yazan Mufti.

Mr Mufti contributed an initial £125,000 donation to the fund, which was matched by the College, to provide the capital for academics to investigate the commercial opportunities of their research.

Awards are provided to help test the commercial viability of an idea through activities such as market reports, patent analysis, intellectual property protection and the building of prototypes.

Since August 2011, three awards have been made totalling £110,000. The progress and future plans and ambitions of the projects were reviewed at a meeting of the Gateway board and grant holders this month.

Professor Robin Walker and Professor Johannes Zanker from the Department of Psychology are working on separate projects to improve the lives of sufferers of Macular Degeneration, a condition that leads to loss of central vision due to damage of a small area of the retina.

Professor Walker demonstrated an early prototype of an iPad app to assist people with macular degeneration develop new reading skills. The app is now undergoing trials with the support of the Macular Disease Society| prior to further work.

Professor Zanker is working on a project to enable the dynamic compensation of video images, “correcting” for the specific impairment of the viewer to create a visually, non-distorted image.  Since the start of the project Professor Zanker has been able to begin work with the Harvard Medical School, Moorfield Eye Hospital and the Institute of Ophthalmology.

Professor Simon Cutting, from the School of Biological Sciences, is nearing the end of a major programme of research into probiotic spores and is now considering their use as adjuvants (immunological agents) to greatly improve the efficacy of vaccines. Gateway funding has enabled work on a business plan containing market research and an independent assessment of the intellectual property, essential preparation in securing investment for a spin out company.

Professor Philip Beesley, Vice-Principal, Research & Enterprise, at Royal Holloway said: “This was a great working session, reviewing progress of these three exciting projects, each at different stages of development.

“Working with Yazan Mufti though the Gateway fund, the College is delighted to be able to support projects with the potential to create such a positive impact on the lives of so many.  The Gateway fund looks forward to receiving more applications for funding from researchers at Royal Holloway.”


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