University of Edinburgh researchers are joining forces with commercial companies to develop new technologies to help tackle the Covid-19 pandemic and support the NHS.
Edinburgh Innovations has connected academic scientists and engineers with a range of companies, from SMEs to major multinationals, to help them fast-track product development, and has streamlined procedures to prevent delay.
Products and processes
The aims of joint research projects under way include speeding up the manufacture of antiseptic products, developing a rapid point-of-care test for the virus, and using the sewage system to monitor the population’s Covid-19 infection rate.
University specialists are collaborating with a company in the north of England on three projects: engineers are helping scale up delivery of an existing antiseptic product, while physicists are working to develop a new gel version of a liquid antiseptic and seeking a way to disinfect used face masks in the NHS, which could relieve pressure on mask supplies nationally.
Researchers from the University’s School of Biological Sciences are working with a major US manufacturer to find a new way to chemically bond antimicrobial agents to paper fibres.
This could enable a range of products such as facemasks, tissues and dressings to kill the Covid-19 virus, which would improve their effectiveness as well as potentially making them “self disinfecting” – reducing the danger associated with Covid-19-contaminated items.
EI and the University have agreed to streamline the usual procedures for engagement between academic researchers and industry. This enables joint research projects to begin immediately, while contractual arrangements are negotiated as the work is ongoing, or put on hold until the emergency is under control.
“It is essential that we apply our exceptional academic talent to help develop and deploy interventions to support the NHS and the wider global crisis as quickly as possible.
“To expedite this, we have paused commercial considerations to let the collaborative work get under way immediately.”
– Edinburgh Innovations Chief Executive Officer Dr George Baxter.
In addition to collaborating with industrial partners, the University is focusing its own world-leading research on mitigating the impact of Covid-19 and helping the quest for treatments, across areas including virology, biomedicine and public health policy.
Many of the University’s researchers have begun new research targeting the pandemic, while clinical academic staff are increasing their support to NHS services.
Edinburgh researchers have drawn up guidelines for clinicians on how to treat Covid-19, are helping pinpoint genetic regions of the virus that may be changing as it infects people, are trying to trace how and when it was first transmitted from an animals to humans, and have supported the World Health Organisation on policy, governance and global surveillance.