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University-industry collaborations

University-industry collaborations: a wealth of opportunities at Imperial College London

As a world-class university Imperial College London educates the brightest and best, employs leading-edge scientists and is in touch with the world of business. Innovative research at Imperial explores the interface between science, technology, medicine and business and delivers practical solutions that enhance the quality of life and the environment ? all underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture. Rated in the top 5 by the THES World University Rankings 2007, with 62 Fellows of the Royal Society among our current academic staff and an alumni that includes 14 Nobel Laureates and two Fields Medallists, the quality of our research is indisputable.

What makes Imperial one of the best partners in the world for biotech and pharmaceutical collaborations? Here are some examples of the research and collaborative initiatives that set us apart.

University-Industry partnerships

Pharmaceutical and biotech companies are increasingly turning to external sources to bolster their pipeline. Whilst the biotech community is a rich source of later-stage projects, research-led universities such as Imperial can offer a plentiful supply of early stage, innovative technology ? helping to increase innovation in the drug discovery industry by accelerating existing programmes and enhancing tired pipelines.

The relative autonomy offered by universities to researchers, and the freedom to explore blue-skies research attracts the most creative and innovative scientists, making an entrepreneurial community offering a range of partnership options. Imperial?s Business Development team forms the core interface between Imperial and the needs of industry, driving the creation of strategic research collaborations and helping partners to keep ahead of the technology curve.

Visit to find out more about partnering opportunities and to register your interest.

Integrating Research and Healthcare

In 2007, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust was established, the first Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC) in the UK. The centre will fulfil opportunities for synergy between the National Health Service and Imperial College?s flow of research knowledge. One of the major benefits of the new AHSC is to fast-track the transition of research into the clinic for testing and then to market. It enables us to leverage the advantages that world-class science, engineering and medicine gives to the development of novel therapeutic interventions and prevention strategies.

More information is at

Surgical technology

Imperial has a world-leading inter-disciplinary team developing novel technology for surgical procedures that draw on the expertise of researchers from fields including computing, medicine, mechanical engineering and physics. We have major strengths in robotics, sensing and imaging and have pioneered surgical simulation technologies, the concept of perceptual docking for human-robot interaction and body sensor networks (BSN) for next-generation healthcare.

This strength and expertise is combined in a new centre recently established with the help of £10 million of philanthropic support. The Hamlyn Centre for Robotic Surgery is pushing forward the integration of robotics into medicine and patient care. It aims to develop advanced robotic technologies that will transform conventional key-hole surgery, develop new ways of empowering robots with human intelligence, and create revolutionary miniature ?microbots? that have integrated sensing and imaging for surgery and treatment.

Surgery case study : the i-snake

At the Hamlyn Centre, Imperial researchers are developing a novel surgical robot known as the ?i-Snake?, which provides a platform to extend the use of keyhole surgery, breaking new ground across the fields of surgery and engineering. The ?i-Snake? incorporates state of the art imaging and intuitive manipulation technologies, allowing surgeons to carry out more complex and demanding procedures within the body, previously only possible using more invasive surgical approaches.

The i-Snake robot uses fully articulated joints powered by special motors with multiple sensing mechanisms and imaging tools at its ?head? to extend the vision and dexterity of the surgeon when navigating difficult and restrictive regions of the body (including investigation of the alimentary tract and coronary bypass).

Image related to: University-industry collaborationsExpertise in Protein-protein interactions

Expertise in Protein-protein interactions

The traditional approach of generating drugs that target single proteins such as kinases or receptors is changing. It is moving towards a more holistic view where a network of 100 proteins may be the target module for therapeutic intervention and where protein interaction may be targeted rather than protein activity. This approach is dependent on understanding the network of protein interactions in a cell.

Imperial College has launched an initiative in this field, funded by research councils and industry partners, to train 50 or more doctoral students over the next five years. The work is focused on examining protein-protein and protein-lipid interactions, working towards generating the understanding to enable development of drugs for diseases such as cancer. Students are using imaging techniques and computer modelling approaches to predict and analyse the behaviour of, and relationships between, these molecules and to learn more about their roles in processes such as the spread of disease.

As well as answering a demand for skills and knowledge in this area, we are building on existing expertise and working with companies to solve their challenges. As noted by Imperial?s Professor David Klug, co- Chair of the Chemical Biology Centre, ?This kind of multidisciplinary approach, which encourages researchers to break down traditional barriers between life sciences and physical sciences, will be key if we?re to crack some of the toughest challenges in drug development and basic biology.?

Excellence in Cardiovascular Research

Finding innovative ways to prevent, diagnose and treat heart and circulatory disease is the focus of a new Centre for Research Excellence here at Imperial, established through an £8.9 million award from the British Heart Foundation (BHF). Medical researchers, scientists and engineers from 20 different disciplines have joined forces to bring a multidisciplinary approach to solving some of the biggest challenges in healthcare.

Professor Michael Schneider, Director of the new Centre and Head of Cardiovascular Science at Imperial College, said: ?I am ecstatic about the award. At Imperial, the BHF Centre can be described best as a triangular alliance among cardiovascular medicine underpinning biomedical sciences like genetics and stem cell biology, and leading edge research in the physical sciences such as chemical biology, computational biology and bioengineering.? This new initiative is an ideal partnering opportunity, offering access to a pipeline of new treatments based on a greater understanding of the mechanisms of heart disease.


Imperial?s research spans every therapeutic area and whatever your interest, our Business Development team will help you to explore opportunities to add value to your in-house R&D activity, put you in touch with key academics working in your areas of interest and support the development of fruitful collaborations.

Contact us at or find
more information at

Added the 11 September 2008 in category Innovation UK Vol4-1

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