IP licensing

We have a number of novel technologies available for you to license. These can be developed into research collaboration opportunities and combined with support provided by our academic experts to deliver the greatest benefit to your business. We are flexible in our approach to ensure that your needs are met. We work closely with businesses to develop technologies for commercial success.

Available technologies

  • Novel Gene for Enhanced Plant Productivity

    The Problem

    Increasing food and fuel demands caused by a growing world population has led to the need to develop higher yielding crop varieties. It has been estimated that by 2050, a 50% increase in the yield of grain crops such as wheat and rice will be required if food supply is to meet increasing demands.

    A determinant of crop yield is the cumulative rate of photosynthesis over the growing season which is the result of the crop’s ability to capture light, the efficiency by which this light is converted to biomass and how much biomass is converted into the usable product. However, the maximum potential yield of a crop over the growing season under optimal conditions is influenced by both genetic factors and agronomic practice.

    The Solution

    Researchers at the University of Essex have found that over expression of a certain subunit in the Reiske protein causes a marked increase in photosynthesis which leads to greater biomass, larger leaf area and an increase in seed yield

    This gene can be overexpressed in a wide range of crop species and assessed for increases in yield and leaf area. Data has already been generated for Arabidopsis thaliana and tobacco and is also being developed for wheat and barley.

    Benefits

    The benefits of this technology include increased biomass per growing season/growing area allowing for higher productivity from the plants.

    Patent Status

    • UK patent application filed February 2016
    • PCT patent application filed February 2017

    Find out more

    Contact Dr Kirstie Cochrane for more information.

  • Bioremediation of oil sands process water

    The problem

    The extraction of oil from oil sands results in the production of vast quantities of oil sands process waters (OSPW) which are contaminated with toxic naphthenic acids. Currently this wastewater is contained in tailings ponds and left for the mature fine tailings (MFT) to settle out and the naphthenic acids to degrade, which can take years or decades.

    The solution

    Scientists at the University of Essex have developed a novel bioremediation method which speeds up this process by increasing the sedimentation of particulates from the water.

    The technology

    The technique involves the use of a consortium of microorganisms which are capable of metabolizing naphthenic acids, and growing them in a bioreactor with the oil sands process water (OSPW).

    Duplicate ‘live’ bioreactors were seeded with 10 L of our microbial consortium and 180 L of OSPW. Duplicate control bioreactors without our microbial consortium and only OSPW were also set up.

    After only 28 days of treatment, it was visibly obvious that the ‘live’ bioreactors (Figs 1A and 1B) containing our microbial consortium had significantly less suspended solids compared to the controls (Figs 1C and 1D). There was also a marked decrease in toxicity (by > 50 %) in the bioreactors by day 28, as measured by Microtox®.

    The benefits

    • Greatly increases sedimentation rates of solids in OSPW (approx. one month, rather than decades)
    • Greatly reduces OSPW toxicity
    • Works at room temperature and pressure
    • Can be used to treat existing tailings pond water, or newly produced OSPW
    • Low capital and running costs
    • Can be readily mobilized on site

    Patent

    Patent application submitted in 2015. Further information is available under confidentiality.

    Status

    The technique has already been demonstrated successfully to treat 300 L of OSPW from a single site in Canada. The next stage is to validate the general applicability of the technique with a variety of different OSPW inputs, and to understand how it could be best integrated with current practice.

    The University is seeking commercial partners which would be willing to collaborate through the provision of funding and/or access to OSPW waste streams.

    Find out more

    Contact Dr Kirstie Cochrane for more information.

  • Breast cancer biomarker

    The technology

    This technology is based on a high resolution MS/MS technique where the phosphorylation pattern of certain residues within the C-terminal part of the tumour suppressor protein Scribble will enable a clinician to determine the best treatment option within triple negative breast cancer patients. The phosphorylation pattern on a cluster of sites in the C-terminal region of scribble dramatically changes when cancer cells become more invasive.

    The problem

    The use of chemotherapy as treatment options for breast cancer is utilised within the population of breast cancer sufferers with tumours that are negative for receptors to oestrogen, progesterone and HER2. Upon biopsy the cancer's receptors are identified to identify the best course of treatment. Within the triple negative population of breast cancer patients, chemotherapy is offered as the treatment. Triple negative breast cancer is seen as a more invasive cancer with poor prognosis.

    The climate/arena

    Breast cancer will affect nearly 232,000 women in the USA over the next year and 15-20% of cases will be triple negative tumours. The figures for the UK are 50,000 cases per year and the rest of Europe including Belgium, Denmark and France have higher incidence rates than the UK.

    The solution

    The technology described here is able to distinguish between highly invasive and less invasive metastatic state of cells. Loss of phosphorylation appears to be an early marker for invasion, metastatic propensity and ultimately poor prognosis. Whereas phosphorylation of the sites indicates a less invasive and less metastatic state of the cells. The current technology is mass spectrometry based and there is potential for an ELISA based method to be developed.

    Patent status

    Patent issued in the USA in April 2016

    Find out more

    Contact Dr Kirstie Cochrane for more information.

  • HSF3 gene for improved yield and abiotic and biotic stress resistance

    The technology

    Heat-shock transcription factors (HSFs) are known to be key regulators of expression of heat shock proteins in eukaryotes. Individual HSFs have unique functions in response to environmental stress. They are known for many plant species including corn, rice, soybean, wheat, barley, potato, tomato and Arabidopsis. Prof Phil Mullineaux and Dr Ulrike Bechtold have now demonstrated that HSF3 acts beyond its previously associated functions, and have found that transgenic plants over-expressing HSF3 show benefits to water productivity and pathogen resistance.

    The solution

    Expression of HSF3 in transgenic Arabidopsis has shown significantly enhanced plant performance under drying conditions – leading to increased seed yield, improved water use and better recovery from severe drought stress. Moreover, plant productivity is not only improved under drying conditions but also under normal growing conditions – plants over-expressing HSF3 produced 2.5x the seed weight of normal plants even under well watered conditions. This effect was confirmed in three different Arabidopsis accessions, whereas hsf1/3 double null mutant plants showed reduced water productivity. The overall biomass was not affected, but redistribution from vegetative biomass in favour of seed biomass was observed in the HSF3-overexpressing plants.

    Patent status

    • USA - 8445747 B2 - granted.
    • Brazil - filed.

    Find out more

    Contact Dr Kirstie Cochrane for more information.

  • Machine Vision-Based Event Detection and Summarization using Type 2 Fuzzy logic control system

    The problem

    In recent years, there has been an abundance of vision sensors in various applications such as security surveillance, healthcare, Ambient Assisted Living (AAL), etc. However, the massive data sizes related with video analysis applications and the high level of uncertainties associated with the real world unstructured environments occupied by various users make it very challenging to automatically detect important events and human behaviours and summarise them from vision sensors in real time.

    The solution

    The technology operates on videos to extract summaries that could be customised according to the needs of the user and through this summary the video can be searched in natural language similar to searching through a Word document.

    The technology

    We have developed a robust behaviour recognition system for video linguistic summarisation using the latest model of the 3D Kinect camera based on Interval Type-2 Fuzzy Logic Systems optimised by Big Bang Big Crunch (BB BC) algorithm to obtain the parameters of the membership functions and rule base. The proposed system outperforms the Type-1 FLSs counterpart as well as other conventional non-fuzzy methods, and the difference in performance rises when the number of subjects increases. The recognised output activity together with relevant event descriptions (such as video data, timestamp, location and user identification) detailed events can be efficiently summarised and stored in our back-end SQL event database.

    The benefits

    • Applicable to detecting multiple behaviours.
    • Better performance in higher uncertainty situations such as multiple people in a video frame or occlusion than Type 1 FUZZY Logic system or non-fuzzy systems.
    • Non-intrusive unlike wearable device solutions (especially in healthcare applications).
    • System can be used for generating automatic alerts or for searching occurrences at a later time.

    Patent status

    • Patent application filed in the UK.

    Find out more

    Contact Anshu Bansal, Knowledge Exchange Manager for Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, for more information:


Contact us

For general enquiries about IP licensing, or to find out more about how you can work with us, please contact us.

Kirstie Cochrane

Dr Kirstie Cochrane

Knowledge Exchange Manager

University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex, CO4 3SQ

Telephone 01206 874042

Email kscoch@essex.ac.uk



Rob Singh

Dr Robert Singh

Deputy Director (Enterprise)

University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex, CO4 3SQ

Telephone 01206 874278

Email rjsingh@essex.ac.uk