Monday, September 20, 2021
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Venture capital funding for medicines project

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Innovative veterinary medicines project secures venture capital funding

To assist in the global fight against antimicrobial resistance, NI farmers have been reducing antibiotic use on-farm.

Scientists from the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and Ulster University (UU) have joined forces to develop a system to make the process of recording medicine use on farm hassle-free, while providing the agri-food industry with valuable data.

The application they have created has been awarded funding to assist further development to bring it to market.

The system, SeaMless Antibiotic ReporTing (SMART) is designed to capture animal and drug use data in real time.

The team recently secured a place on the DigiSpark programme and was awarded £10k to conduct further market research to develop the concept, followed by a further £20k to progress the innovation in a “Best Potential Spinout” award.

Lead researchers Dr Steven Morrison and Dr Aimee Craig from AFBI recently teamed up with Dr Patrick Dunlop and Dr Gennday Lubarsky from the School of Engineering at Ulster University, who brought their wealth of experience in human healthcare technology to the project.

Throughout the eight week ‘market discovery’ phase the SMART team engaged with a wide range of stakeholders across the agri-food industry to identify ways to increase the impact of the SMART tool.

The DigiSpark programme also offered Aimee and Patrick the chance to gain insights from other leading researchers from across the globe at the 5th International Conference on Responsible Use of Antibiotics in Animals

The highlight of the market discovery journey was the opportunity to host leading vets, farmers, processors, government and consumers at a ‘design sprint’ directly discussing pains, gains, opportunities and ideas for the SMART system.

At the end of the DigiSpark programme Aimee once again pitched to leading tech start-up investors, Techstart Ventures, Helix Hub and ECIT Institute.

As a result the SMART team was delighted to be one of two teams awarded the ‘Best Potential Spinout’ award with a prize of £20k to progress their innovation.

Dr Simon Doherty (Queen’s University Belfast), who joined the team in an advisory role, commented: “The funding will help to develop an innovative platform to capture data at the pen-side.

“Once you know what you are using and how, you can set appropriate targets to reduce, refine and replace these products as part of a sustainable livestock system.”

The team is now setting its sights on securing further funding from Invest NI to field test its prototype before bringing it to market.

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