Research park offers an environment for high-growth companies to thrive
- Credit: Colorifix
Not only is Norwich Research Park revered for its world-leading science carried out at the institutes, university and university hospital it hosts, it is also home to over 150 businesses. A number of these are high-growth businesses that have translated the research undertaken at the Park into commercial enterprises.
For many researchers, their aim is for their work to make an impact. Setting up a business or social enterprise, or partnering with a company to maximise their research outcomes, can be a good way of achieving this desired, sustainable, long-term impact. Commercialisation can also be a powerful way of continuing the funding into further research such as supporting post-doctoral researchers and research assistants.
Here we look at three great examples of high-growth businesses that are thriving at Norwich Research Park:
Colorifix is a bio-tech company that established itself on the Park in 2018. It specialises in developing sustainable methods of dyeing fabrics. Having previously collaborated with designer Stella McCartney, last year it drew attention to its business when it announced a deal with global fashion brand H&M.
The textile dyeing process requires enormous volumes of water at high temperatures with a large number of chemicals that generates toxic waste on a huge scale.
The Colorifix technology transforms natural pigments found in animals, plants or microbes into colourful industrial dyes at scale, without using petrochemicals or any of the hazardous substances used in conventional dyeing that ultimately lessens its environmental footprint.
Compared to the conventional dyeing step for cotton, the Colorifix technology reduces water consumption by at least 49%, electricity by 35% and CO₂ emissions by 31%.
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Orr Yarkoni, CEO, said: “Norwich Research Park is a great place to run a business. It has fantastic amenities, with many different lab configurations and spaces. It offers great research partners such as the John Innes Centre, UEA and the Earlham Institute and provides an excellent talent pool from which to recruit. These are all important factors for a young company that’s aiming to grow fast.”
Even before the nation was forced into Covid-19 home schooling, a young EdTech company had already seen this coming and had set out to harness the power of technology for learning.
Founded by academics at UEA and UCL, in late 2019 Studious launched a new learning product called Ryze, a mobile-first digital platform designed for higher education students that uses a number of different approaches to keep users engaged and motivated. Features include micro-lessons on business and management and extracurricular courses; interactive videos, quizzes and critical thinking activities; engaging media featuring video case studies, research interviews, animations, podcasts and immersive experiences.
Ryze is being used widely at UEA, Norwich Business School and at other leading universities across the UK alongside a senior leader apprenticeship, the Net Zero Leadership Programme on corporate training, launched earlier this year.
Dr Ivan Mitchell, CEO, said: “We are passionate about helping people learn and delivering the best experience through digital tech and creative media. With Ryze, our goal is to showcase what is possible and provide an engaging mobile-first learning experience.
“We are delighted to be entering new markets with our partners and we remain grateful for all the support we have received from the physical, financial and intellectual resources at both UEA and across Norwich Research Park.”
Leaf Expression Systems
Leaf Expression Systems (Leaf), a biotechnology company specialising in plant-based expression and the production of proteins, vaccines and complex natural products for research and commercial applications, has been based at Norwich Research Park since 2016 in purpose-built laboratories.
One of its more significant launches was last year’s SupraVec® that was designed to deliver much improved protein yields, making it more commercially viable for expression of a larger number of products.
Leaf has also established a partnership with St George’s University, London for a research and development programme focused on using plant-based expression for the potential large-scale manufacture of anti-HIV antibodies. The partnership is trying to address the challenge of treating HIV-positive women late in pregnancy to reduce the risk of them passing the virus to their babies.
These antibodies can provide powerful treatment options for the prevention of infections, but they are expensive and relatively difficult to administer. It’s hoped that this will lead to the creation of a manufacturing platform for affordable medicines that can benefit the global population.
Simon Saxby, CEO, said: “The need for the commercialisation of world-leading research is never better illustrated than our work with St George’s to develop a cost effective treatment for HIV. Assuming the anti-HIV antibodies prove to be efficacious, investment will be required to fund a large-scale facility with the capacity to manufacture the antibodies at clinical and commercial quality and scale. We are confident that we can achieve this and that our presence on Norwich Research Park is a critical part of that equation.”