Case study

A Long Term Knowledge Exchange Collaboration with SureScreen

For the last six years, the University of Derby has successfully collaborated with analytical laboratory, SureScreen Scientifics, and its sister company, SureScreen Diagnostics Ltd, on a range of knowledge exchange projects. From Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, to contract research, student and graduate recruitment and funding for capital projects. This partnership work has enabled SureScreen to create a new revenue stream, new jobs, and most recently, to make a significant contribution to the global fight against Covid-19.

About the company

SureScreen Scientifics is an analytical laboratory based in Derbyshire, which provides material investigation, scientific consultancy and analysis in engineering and ecology. SureScreen Diagnostics is a separate part of the group and focuses on providing rapid diagnostic equipment and services around the world.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

Our relationship with SureScreen Scientifics began in 2014 with a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP). For this project, we joined forces to develop a new ecological surveying technique, which used environmental DNA (eDNA). Our University has an international reputation for using eDNA to monitor and quantify biodiversity in the natural environment. By sharing our research expertise in this area, we helped SureScreen to develop a new service and a new revenue stream. The collaboration also included:  

  • contract research
  • industry-sponsored research PhDs and technical support, plus
  • student and graduate talent to support SureScreen’s analytical workload. 

This provided valuable opportunities for our students, graduates and researchers to apply their knowledge and skills in a pioneering area of forensic ecology.

Surescreen

Funding for facilities

Since 2014, the University of Derby has been delivering the ‘Invest to Grow’ scheme, awarding over £20m of grants and loans to the region’s businesses as part of a comprehensive package to provide not only knowledge and skills but also the capital investment required to innovate, grow and create jobs. In 2015, SureScreen was awarded £68,430 from Invest to Grow to help it develop and fit-out a lab facility specifically for its new eDNA service, which was developed as part of the KTP. This funding allowed the business to increase the capacity and breadth of its market offer. It also led to the creation of ten new, high value jobs. David Campbell, Director at SureScreen commented: 

“This led to a significant increase in both our sales and profitability over the first year, with both increasing by double-figure percentages. Invest to Grow provided a great opportunity to access investment capital, which propelled us forward in a way we would not have been able to do organically.”    

Student and graduate talent for the Covid fight

More recently, SureScreen Diagnostics became one of the first laboratories to create a Covid-19 ten-minute test, now used across the world from Panama to Portugal. To cope with the demand for this product, SureScreen needed to employ high-calibre students quickly, to help assemble and distribute the kits. They turned to us for help with recruitment and, through the ERDF supported Productivity Through Innovation project, we were pleased to be able to offer funding along with the highly skilled candidates required to meet their needs.

SureScreen's ten-minute test has received high-level validation from Guys and St Thomas's Foundation Trust, Cambridge University and King's College London.  Many private companies are using the test in the UK and it is awaiting final Public Health England approval to be used in the NHS. It is already being used extensively by public and private organisations in more than 30 countries including Germany, Spain and Sweden.  

David Campbell said the company was “delighted to have been able to give young people the chance to be at the cutting edge of the fight against Covid 19”, as were we. It’s another example of how our students can make practical, positive differences in the world, at the same time as enhancing their own employability.

For further information or to discuss working in partnership with us, please contact our Business Enquiry Team on +44 (0)800 001 5500 or businessgateway@derby.ac.uk