Swansea-based drug research and product company shares secrets of its success as it prepares for expansion

A GROWING Swansea-based drug research and product company which is about to expand overseas has taken part in a national event to discuss its work.

Moleculomics, which employs eight people, is based at Swansea University and is set to launch a subsidiary company in Canada later this year.

A representative from the business, which began trading in 2013, attended a marketplace event in London by the Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE), part of the MoD’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory.

The Ministry of Defence is encouraging small and big businesses to team up to develop innovative ideas for the defence and security of the UK.

Dr Jonathan Mullins, who has worked at Swansea University for 11 years and is part of Moleculomics’ management team, said the business was exceeding expectations. It aims to employ two more staff over the next year and two more in the following 12 month period.

Dr Mullins said: “It’s been such a burgeoning success. I thought we’d be able to have a team of three or four going into 2015 and it’s surpassed my expectations.”

He added High Performance Computing (HPC) Wales had been a key driver behind the business’ work.

Dr Will Krawszik, who is head of operations for the business and will head the subsidiary company — called Moleculomics in Silico — in Montreal pitched to guests at the marketplace event. He discussed the company’s objectives and commercial opportunities.

As well as four members of the management team, the company also employs four PHD students at Swansea University, who work as research assistants and programmers.

They include Sam Lamdin, Andrew Brown, William Edwards and Sam West, who all bring something slightly different to their roles.

Mr Mullins added each employee spends around 50 per cent of their working time on studies and the rest at the job, but the two very much overlapped.

He added the new roles would also be research positions.

“Those that are interested need a good degree and a lot of enthusiasm. They should not be scared of a supercomputer, those are the types of people we would be interested in.”

CDE funded two projects with Moleculomics to develop new platforms that could assist with the development of novel antimicrobial drugs. The computer-based platforms use simulations and modelling to allow faster and more reliable antimicrobial development programmes.

Opening the CDE Marketplace event, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Philip Dunne, said: “CDE funds research into novel, high-risk, high-potential-benefit innovations. This Marketplace event aims to get those industry and academic partners who’ve received funding to offer up their ideas and technology to possible investors interested in the defence and security supply chain to help bring them to market.”

More than 20 small and medium-sized enterprises backed by CDE had the opportunity to pitch their ideas and early stage products to some of the world’s biggest defence companies and investors. Ideas ranged from ways to combat the cyber insider threat to casualty care on the battlefield.

Also attending the event was Keith Hodgkinson, Deputy Director of Innovation Policy at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. He said: “The government has taken steps to improve business support for SMEs to help drive economic growth. It is great to hear first-hand from some innovative SMEs here today who are seeing their businesses grow.”

Among those exhibiting was Inova Design Solutions Ltd of Guildford, demonstrating medical monitoring technology to support injured troops on the frontline. Inova’s chief executive officer and founder, Leon Marsh, said they had already received support from private investor group, SETsquared, and now hoped to take the technology to the next stage.

He said: “The funding and support from two CDE contracts has helped us to prove the technical feasibility of our proprietary technology, and establish confirmation of its need by the defence community. This, in turn, is enabling us to raise additional funds and begin commercialising the technology.”

This is the second Marketplace event held by CDE.

The first was in 2012 as a pilot, at which one of the exhibitors — Flight Applications Ltd, a micro SME based in Surrey — was introduced to MBDA Systems, a multi-national world leader in missiles and missile systems. Flight Applications was then invited to take part in a joint project on cruise missile mission planning.

Since CDE was established in 2008 it has received almost 5,500 research proposals and funded over 900 of these to a value of £55 million. Around 70 per cent of CDE-funded contracts have gone to SMEs and innovators in academia.

The above article originally appeared in the South Wales Evening Post. You can view the article in it’s original form here.

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