EU-backed investment will help more businesses exploit nano technologies

An EU-backed project helping businesses pioneer medical healthcare using advanced technologies is to be rolled out across East Wales.

Swansea University’s Centre for NanoHealth (CNH) already collaborates with businesses across West Wales and the Valleys as part of a £21m project to drive forward nano and micro technologies for the health sector.

Now a further £4m will be invested, including £1.7m from the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government, to benefit SMEs and larger companies in Cardiff, Newport, Wrexham, Flintshire, Powys, Vale of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire. The remainder of the funding will come from Swansea University and the private sector.

Deputy Minister for European Programmes, Alun Davies, said: “This new EU funding will help more businesses stay at the forefront of innovation and growth in what is a fast developing and hugely influential healthcare sector. Nanohealth has the potential to deliver major advances in healthcare, and in doing so drive innovation and deliver economic prosperity for Wales.”

To mark the roll out of the three-year Nano and Micro Technologies for Healthcare (NMH) project, a launch event will take place today (Wednesday, November 21) at the Village Hotel in Cardiff, where businesses will be able to learn about the expertise and facilities available at Swansea University’s state-of-the-art Centre for NanoHealth (CNH) and the established Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating (WCPC) who will lead the initiative together.

Professor Tim Claypole, WCPC & NMH Project Director, said: “Now businesses across the whole of Wales will be able to access a cost-effective and highly skilled knowledge base to collaborate on research and develop new products, processes or technologies.”

Dr Matt Elwin, CNH Manager & Co-Director for the NMH Project, said: “So far through the existing project CNH is working with over 20 businesses to develop a range of new technologies. Amongst the applications being developed are advanced wound dressings to speed up the healing process of chronic wounds.

“We are also looking at the development of biosensors for better diagnosis of illnesses and micro needle arrays for delivering medication. Another project is investigating problems of cystic fibrosis patients and other conditions such as dental plaque.

“We have also helped develop a new technique – used to study protein-DNA interactions – to achieve a greater understanding into the underlying mechanism of diseases such as cancer and new, improved ways to treat it.”

Today’s launch will also introduce a new collaboration, between CNH and P&S Nano Ltd – a start-up company based in Pembrokeshire.

To facilitate the collaboration P&S Nano, working with CNH staff, successfully recruited a student, Aled Mathias from the EU-backed Access to Masters (ATM) programme helping graduates gain higher skills through research and development opportunities with businesses.

Alongside academics at CNH, Aled has successfully been involved in investigating ways to deliver medication using drug loaded nano-/microparticles. The skills gained have helped Aled to study a PhD within the CNH.

Dr Elwin said: “This new venture is an excellent example of how we can work with businesses to develop new ground-breaking technologies and services for the market. In this case, to deliver drugs through hydrogel patches to treat skin conditions, or pain-free micro-needle techniques to deliver drug loaded micro-/nano-particles through the skin.”

As a result, P&S Nano Ltd is now looking to invest in a further one-year project with CNH.

Alan Marsh, Managing Director at P&S Nano said: “The collaboration has already provided excellent results and once we complete the quality control laboratory tests of the drug loading process, we will be in the position to seek approval for clinical application before marketing.”