Attractive Innovation Project Award
Rewarded for significant efforts and progress on the path from idea to innovation
The Attractive Innovation Project Award goes to researchers and students at Uppsala University who have succeeded in attracting users, customers, investors or licensees for the valorisation of innovative ideas or research results.
All award-winning projects and startups share a common trait: they have made significant contributions and progress on the journey from idea to innovation, and have received support from UU Innovation in the early stages.
The award is given continuously, and the projects are celebrated with diplomas, seasonal flowers, and red balloons.
You can read more about Uppsala University's attractive innovation projects from 2017 to today below!
2023 Award Winners
So far this year, nine projects have received the award.
Ulf Landegren, Johan Björkesten, Anna Beskow, and Nina Schiller are currently or have been previously affiliated with the Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology.
A novel dry blood spot sampling card is making its way to the market through the recently established company SampleFacts. UU Invest has joined as a shareholder to provide support for the commercialisation. The sampling card is built upon a patent-pending invention by Ulf Landegren and Johan Björkesten and differs uniquely from other methods of collecting dried blood samples by separating cells and plasma into distinct samples directly on the card at the moment of sampling. These dried blood samples are not only suitable for a diverse range of analyses but can also be stored at room temperature while maintaining stability over extended periods. This innovation facilitates processes like biobanking and at-home sample collection, unlocking novel avenues to monitor patient responses to treatments, and, in the long run, detect early signs of disease.
Erik Berg, Robin Lundström and Casimir Misiewicz from the Department of Chemistry – Ångström.
The research team has developed a system called Online Electrochemical Mass Spectrometry (OEMS) to analyse the gas composition in battery cells, both model cells and commercial cells. The goal is to gain better insights into battery performance. In response to industry interest in using the system, the team has founded the company Metrilytics, which has already completed its first sale. What sets OEMS apart is its ability to analyse gas composition in real-time during battery usage. This not only allows for a deeper understanding of battery design but also enables the identification of issues as soon as they arise. Unlike conventional methods that require batteries to be manually opened and inspected in case of damage, the researchers' innovation eliminates this procedure. Another advantage of OEMS is its capacity to simultaneously analyse multiple battery cells, making the process much faster.
Ammar Zaghlool, researcher at the Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology.
Ammar Zaghlool's innovation project contributes to deeper insights into the normal functioning of cells and the development of diseases. He is developing a new technique for detecting and locating RNA and other molecules within cells and tissues. This method combines reading and locating gene expression in individual cells without the need for costly reagents or equipment, with the hope of making this type of research accessible to more research labs and ultimately paving the way for the implementation of new scientific advancements in healthcare. With funding from UU Invest's project company, the development of the prototype is now ongoing, along with the work to generate data to support and validate the method.
The researchers who developed Sloppymerase are affiliated with the Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences: Ola Söderberg, Professor of Pharmaceutical cell biology; Leonie Wenson, PhD student; Johan Heldin, researcher; Björn Hellman, Professor of Toxicology; and Erik Bivehed, PhD student.
The research team has developed and patented a unique enzyme that has the potential for significant impact in the field of life sciences, spanning from research to diagnostics and forensics. The enzyme, named Sloppymerase, is an artificial DNA-copying enzyme, known as a polymerase, with a fascinating characteristic of being highly error-prone. This property opens up new avenues for both molecular biology research and cancer treatment. The team has sold the patent rights of the enzyme to the biotechnology company Genovis, which is now advancing with product development and commercialisation.
Marika Nestor, Fredrik Frejd and Anja Mortensen, researchers at the Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology.
Akiram Therapeutics is developing a new type of radiotherapy for the currently incurable disease anaplastic thyroid cancer. Funding through the Sciety investor network will allow the founding team to continue the development of their proprietary, patent-pending drug candidate, and to enter phase I clinical trials. The team also sees potential in the treatment for other types of thyroid, neck and head cancers.
Liza Löf and Masood Kamali-Moghaddam, researchers at the Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology.
The research team founded Readily Diagnostics to bring a new rapid test for respiratory diseases to market. Several investors, including UU Invest AB, have provided capital to support the commercialisation. The test is a further development of a method developed by the researchers, and the aim is to be able to measure several different viruses so that the right treatment can be administered quickly.
Katarina Blomkvist, researcher at the Department of Business Studies.
Based on research on, inter alia, intrapreneurship, i.e. innovation in various forms within established companies and organisations, she has developed a methodology together with William Varga from LVMH and entrepreneur Kristofer Klerfalk to help organisations in both the private and public sectors to identify, activate and strengthen their innovation capacity. Together, the team founded the company Daily Innovation 364, which today has clients in various sectors.
Fibre-reinforced bone cement
Cecilia Persson, Professor at the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
Together with researchers at ETH Zurich, Cecilia Persson has developed and patented a technology that could enable the treatment of fractures in bone tissue with a material that can stimulate the formation of new bone tissue. She has assigned her part of the patent application to ETH Zurich, with the right to compensation in the event of future profits. The aim is to find licensees who can take the invention forward to a commercial product.
Emil Rosén, former doctoral student at the Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology.
The business idea behind Sapiron is to promote the use of advanced image analysis methods in life sciences, e.g. to make it faster and cheaper to develop new drugs. The idea and the company are the brainchild of Emil Rosén, who has developed a software solution that combines image analysis and AI, and by extension cloud services, for customers in biotech and drug development, among others. Sapiron has made its first sale.
2022 Award Winners
In 2022, eleven innovative projects and startups received the award Attractive Innovation Project:
Cell-penetrating peptide against viral disease
The research team has developed a peptide that can penetrate cell membranes and be transported into cells, thereby inhibiting diseases caused by viruses, such as Covid-19. Behind the new and patented technology are Ylva Ivarsson, professor of biochemistry at the Department of Chemistry – BMC, Anna Överby Wernstedt, professor at Umeå University, and Jakob Nilsson, professor at the University of Copenhagen. To give the technology the best possible conditions to benefit, the team has transferred the rights to a partner who is responsible for identifying companies that want to take over the innovation project, such as pharmaceutical companies. The team has an option for future income from a commercialisation.
Orchis Natur grows European wild orchids for nature conservation measures such as reintroductions and to counteract the extinction of endangered populations. The methods used are based on the latest research in conservation biology and population genetics. Linus Söderquist, doctoral student in botanical ecology, and Simon Hultby, gardener at Uppsala Linnean Gardens are behind the company. Orchis Natur targets municipalities, county administrative boards and non-profit associations and has had its first customers during the year.
Researchers Nikos Fatsis-Kavalopoulos, Po-Cheng Tang, Roderich Römhild, Dan Andersson and Johan Kreuger have developed and applied for a patent for the CombiANT method with which the combination effects of different antibiotics can be investigated. Combination therapies are common in healthcare, despite the fact that until now there has not been an easy way to evaluate their effect. The research team's hope is that their method will eventually lead to the prescribing of active combinations of antibiotics to each patient, which can also contribute to a reduced resistance to antibiotics. The team has founded Rx Dynamics AB and as a first step has started sales to customers conducting research. Continued commercialisation of the product takes place with the support of financing from Vinnova and investment from UU Invest AB.
Manufacturing method for stable perovskite solar cells
Perovskite is a material that has received a lot of attention for its ability to produce lightweight, flexible and cheaper solar cells. Gerrit Boschloo, professor at the Department of Chemistry – Ångström, has, within the framework of a project funded by SSF, developed a method for the manufacture of a solar cell module in which perovskite solar cells are connected in an efficient way. A patent has been applied for the method and transferred to a company for further development and commercialisation.
Secretion Effect Detection (SED) technology
Daniel Camsund, former researcher at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, has developed and patented a new technology, SED, that can speed up the development of new biological drugs. SED combines synthetic biology with microflow technology and can be used to measure the effects of various biomolecules secreted from cells, for example when screening new candidate drugs. The patent application and the innovation project have been sold to an international biotechnology company that will develop the technology further towards a commercial product.
Dendrit is a digital tool developed to replace the reams of paper currently used by doctors to organise their tasks. The aim is to make the everyday life of a doctor easier by allowing them to share medical records, gain an overview of their workflow and create customised checklists. Dendrit has been commercialised by RoundBit, one of the founders of which is Dr Fredrik Junerfält, an alumnus of the Faculty of Medicine at Uppsala University. The company completed its first sale during 2022.
Nils-Otto Ahnfelt, PhD pharmacist and visiting researcher at the Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences, and Hjalmar Fors, a PhD and Docent in the history of science, have recreated the 300-year-old Hjärnes Testamente, a medicine invented by Swedish scientist Urban Hjärne and considered something of a universal elixir during the eighteenth century. The researchers’ modern taste reconstruction began as a side-project to a research project on reconstructing early-modern pharmaceuticals and culminated in the 2022 launch of Hjärnes Testamente, in the form of a bitter schnapps, by state-owned liquor store Systembolaget.
Colleagues Marvin Seibert and Kerstin Mühlig, researchers at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, have developed a new air purification solution that can be implemented quickly and cheaply in many different vehicles. The technique draws heat from the vehicle’s engine to sterilise the air and remove aerosols that may contain infectious agents such as coronaviruses. In order to commercialise the technology, the researchers have built a team and founded the company Virubustor. UU Invest AB has joined two other investors in supporting the project.
Mind Intelligence Lab
Mind Intelligence Lab develops technologies that make it possible to predict human behaviour – especially undesirable behaviour. This includes identifying the risk of violent behaviour and suicidal tendencies and detecting toxicity in online communication. Regardless of the area of application, one thing that all of these tools have in common is that they are based on analysing written digital communication and analysing the results to support assessment and decision-making. The technology – which combines machine learning, linguistic tags, behavioural psychology and statistics – reflects the broad palette of expertise assembled in the interdisciplinary research group behind the development: Nazar Akrami of the Department of Psychology and Lisa Kaati and Amendra Shrestha of the Department of Information Technology. UU Invest AB has invested in the company founded by the team to bring their tools to the market.
Tools for combined diagnostics and gene therapy of brain tumours
Fredrik Swartling, Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology.
Building on promising results from a previous ERC Starting Grant project, Fredrik Swartling and his team are developing new tools to identify cells that have become resistant to standard treatments, usually radiation and chemotherapy, for malignant brain tumours. The aim is to use the tools to screen cells taken from biopsies during brain tumour surgery to better identify and treat patients at risk of serious recurrence. The project has received an ERC Proof of Concept grant to strengthen the conditions for future commercialisation.
Jens Carlsson, Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Helena Danielson, Department of Chemistry (BMC), Anja Sandström and Lindon Moodie, Department of Medicinal Chemistry.
The multidisciplinary research team has developed a group of novel molecules that have a very good ability to block coronavirus from replicating. The research has been carried out in collaboration with the pharmaceutical platform at the Science for Life Laboratory. The hope is that the discovery will form the basis of a future antiviral drug against coronavirus that can complement vaccines and contribute to treatment options against new virus variants. The road to a new drug is long, and the first step is to further develop the molecules to ensure that they have the essential properties required. UU Invest’s project company has invested in the project and is assisting the research team in investigating the interest of pharmaceutical companies to work further and develop the drug.
2021 Award Winners
In 2021, four innovative projects and startups received the Attractive Innovation Project award:
Mats Larhed, Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Mathias Hallberg, Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences.
The researchers have developed a series of new chemical compounds intended for further development into future drugs for the treatment of lung diseases such as fibrosis. The project has been conducted in collaboration between the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and the Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences, and with the support of the SciLifeLab drug discovery and development platform. The researchers have applied to patent the substances and formed a company called HalaCore Pharma, which has sold the rights to a listed pharmaceutical company that will take over responsibility for development.
Lei Chen and Ulf Landegren, Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology.
Rarity Bioscience is a precision diagnostics company aiming to commercialise a robust new technique for detecting small amounts of DNA mutations, particularly in blood samples. The technique has a very high sensitivity and could provide healthcare professionals with a whole new way of monitoring cancer patients to detect and prevent recurrence at an early stage. Rarity Bioscience is a spin-off from Professor Landegren’s research group, which is conducting world-leading research in the field of molecular tools. Uppsala University Invest AB has invested in the company.
Hugo Gutierrez de Teran and Willem Jespers, Department of Cell and Molecular Biology.
The researchers have developed new computational chemistry methods with the potential to have a major impact in structure-based drug design. The methods enable the rapid and highly accurate prediction of how and how strongly particular drug molecules bind to key receptors. Using computer calculations to reduce the number of compounds that need to be tested or synthesised in order to identify the most promising drug candidate among millions of potential compounds is of great interest to the pharmaceutical industry. The researchers have received funding in national competition from Vinnova’s VFT+ programme to further develop the methods commercially, which is now being done in the company Mod4Sim Pharma that the researchers founded.
Inger Gustavsson and Ulf Gyllensten, Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology.
The research team has been working for many years to develop HPVir, a combination of a self-sampling kit and an HPV test. The test is designed to detect whether a woman is infected with HPV (human papillomavirus) and thus at greater risk of cervical cancer. Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV infection. HPVir testing uses a special sampling card that makes samples stable at room temperature for several years and also allows safe handling of the samples. The effectiveness of HPVir, both in terms of accuracy and propensity to test, has been proven by a large number of scientific studies. Health economic analyses show that the method is cheaper than current screening with gynaecological cell sampling. The project has received funding in national competition from Vinnova’s VFT+ programme.
2020 Award Winners
In 2020, 12 innovative projects and startups received the Attractive Innovation Project award, for example:
Zeeds App - Building meaningful habits
Recova - Improving dialysis care
Elicera Therapeutics - Advancing cancer immunotherapy
Tag-ON - Seeing is believing
Inventing the future of artificial teeth
HistoOne - Providing pathology expertise
Organic batteries - Building in sustainability
2019 Award Winners
In 2019, 15 innovative projects and startups received the Attractive Innovation Project award, for example:
- Molboolean – method for labelling and measuring proteins for research and diagnostic application developed by Ola Söderberg, Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences.
- Enphasys – company founded by Janneke Keeemink and Christel Bergström, Department of Pharmacy, to further develop and commercialise a proprietary device for the lab environment that evaluate the intestinal performance of various oral drug formulations. The aim is to accelerate drug development and to provide patients with convenient oral drug products. Learn more at enphasys.se.
- Anatycan – innovative method that drives the development of drugs for the treatment of severe form of cancer developed by Marika Nestor and Anja Mortensen, Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology.
- Uppsala Therapeutics – redesigning existing technology to create conditions for new drugs. The company is founded by Jöns Hillborn and Oommen Varghese, both researchers in polymer chemistry at the Department of Chemistry – Ångström Laboratory, together with Oommen P Oommen at Tampere University and Victor Hartman who is the company’s CEO. Learn more at uppsalatherapeutics.com.
- MM18 Medical – computer-aided image analysis enables significantly reduced health care costs for prostate cancer. Company founders are Erik Wilander, professor at the Department of Women's and Children's Health and Sören Nygren. Learn more at mm18.se.
- Percy Roc – using microwaves to harden carbon fibre. Dragos Dancila and Kristiaan Pelckmans, Department of Physics and Astronomy have together founded Percy Roc to commercialise microwave technology for new applications. As a first step, it will be used to cure carbon fibre composites within the aviation and automotive industries. Learn more at percyroc.se.
- Individualised immunotherapy – a unique idea for fighting cancer. Sara Mangsbo, Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences, together with Helena Persson and colleagues leading the SciLifeLab Drug Discovery and Development (DDD) platform for antibodies, have developed a strategy similar to vaccination to get the body’s own immune cells to expand and specifically attack the cancer. The treatment is individualised, but the platform uses some generic components to shorten the time to treatment. In 2020, Strike Pharma was founded with the aim of commercialising the proprietary ADAC technology platform. Learn more at strikepharma.com.
Scaleout – software that facilitates the use of artificial intelligence. The company Scaleout Systems provides a new solution for privacy preservation and secure machine learning developed by, inter alia, Andreas Hellander and Salman Toor, Department of Information Technology. Learn more at scaleoutsystems.com.
2018 Award Winners
Drug delivery with less risk of abuse and novel solar cell technology for new applications among 2018's attractive innovation projects. In 2018, 17 innovative projects and startups received the award, for example:
- Emplicure – safer, more effective drug delivery with less risk of abuse. Emplicure has developed a ceramic-based transdermal patch to combat chronic pain, in cooperation with Håkan Engqvist at the Department of Engineering Sciences. By gradually releasing strong opioids under the skin, the company’s treatment is not only safer and less painful for patients, it also reduces the risk of drug abuse via smoking or oral intake. Learn more at emplicure.com.
- Peafowl Solar Power – novel solar cell technology for new applications. Peafowl Solar Power has developed a very thin, transparent and cost-effective solar cell. Its key competitive advantage, however, is that the technology allows coating surfaces with solar cells without altering their appearance, thus opening up a vast array of new applications. Jacinto Sá, working at the Department of Chemistry – Ångström is co-founder of the company. Learn more at peafowlsolarpower.com.
- Cartana – provides a new way to sequence genes directly in tissues. The technique provides information on both the type and function of individual brain cells as well as their location in relation to each other. Several of the people behind Cartana, including Malte Kühnemund and Mats Nilsson, have previously worked as researchers at Uppsala University. In 2020, Cartana was aquired by American biotech company 10x Genomics.
- Deep Forestry – sensor systems accurately map forest resources. The company has developed powerful sensor systems for building 3D models of forest stocks to help generate volume calculations and highly accurate maps with georeferences. The company’s prototype drone can navigate under the tree canopy in commercial forest plantations. The company's co-founder and CEO, Levi Farrand, is a former student at the Department of Earth Sciences. Learn more at deepforestry.com.
- Oncodia – the company has streamlined the clinical analysis process from DNA sequence data to cancer-specific mutation report and integrated it into a single, quality-managed solution. This will help facilitate the choice of treatment, provide better quality care and reduce costs to society. Oncodia was founded by Tobias Sjöblom, Ivaylo Stoimenov and Tom Adlerteg, at the Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology. Learn more at oncodia.com.
- Sence Research – improved post-market follow-up on new drugs. Sence Research’s statistical modelling analyzes drug benefits, side effects and cost-effectiveness using data from records, thus creating an important decision base for authorities and industry. Thomas Cars, at the Department of Medical Sciences, has developed the method. Learn more at sence.com.
Soccermatics’ digital expert David the bot, an algorithm created by David Sumpter at the Department of Mathematics, uses statistics and machine learning to analyze real-time games. Intended to make football more fun and engaging to watch, David also assists professional football clubs understand matches.
2017 Award Winners
New materials and diagnostic tests, forecasting tools and virtual windows to the past are examples of innovations in the works by those projects and startups that received the Attractive Innovation Project award in 2017. Here is a selection of the award-winning projects:
- Graphmatech – introducing graphene light-weight material for large-scale use. Inventor and company co-founder is Mamoun Taher, Department of Chemistry - Ångström Laboratory. Learn more at graphmatech.com.
- Astrego Diagnostics – fast diagnosis and therapeutic information for urinary tract infections. The company is a spin-off from Johan Elf's research group at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology. In 2022, Astrego was aquired by Sysmex Corporation, Japan. Learn more at astrego.se.
- Inossia – new elastic cement for mending fragile bones. Inventor and company co-founder is Cecilia Persson, Departement of Materials Science and Engineering. Learn more at inossia.com.
- Indicio Technologies (former F&A Forecasting) – software for more accurate financial forecasts. Company founded by David Fagersand and Frans Andersen, two former students of Uppsala University. Learn more at indicio.com.
- Magström – company developing both hardware and software that can reduce the unnecessary wear of components in hydroelectric power plants. Company founded by Urban Lundin, Johan Abrahamsson, José Perez-Loya, Department of Electrical Engineering.
- Disir Productions – making historical research come alive. Disir Productions combines archaeology and digital communication in a modern gaming environment. Company founders include John Ljungkvist and Daniel Löwenborg, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History. Learn more at disir.se.