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20 May 2011
A Cardiff University collaboration which created a real-time broadband monitor to detect and warn of impurities in water supplies has cleaned-up at the University’s annual innovation awards.
A 2011 Innovation Award went to a collaboration between the University’s School of Biosciences and Cymtox which created one of the first continuous water toxicity monitors.
The new monitor works by using bioluminescence to detect the presence of potentially toxic substances of chemical or biological origin and immediately warn of suspicious changes.
Professor David Lloyd from the University’s School of Biosciences whose team developed the technology used in the monitor said: "We have been developing water related technology for almost fifty years.
"By developing continuous cultures of Vibrio fischeri we are able to continuously monitor marine river or lake water which may have become polluted or interfered with and can immediately identify a problem that has to be dealt with urgently.
"The quality of drinking water is of major concern to billions of people worldwide with most of the population not having access to reliable water supplies."
The product’s evolution is a key example of how University knowledge and expertise can be exploited and used to create new business and bring innovative products to market.
A new spin-out company, based on the expertise in Professor Lloyd’s lab, was created in 2004 at Cardiff Business Technology Centre with financial help from the Cardiff Partnership Fund and support from the Welsh Assembly Government.
In 2006, following investment from IP Group, Modern Water was established via a £30m AIM flotation to exploit the Cymtox technology along with that of Cardiff University stablemate Poseidon Water.
Ms Nicola Randles, Chief Executive of Cymtox, now owned by Modern Water, said: "The work we have done and continue to do with Cardiff University to develop this new technology has proved extremely successful.
"Not only have we realised a unique product but we have developed a business which has created 30 jobs – which, in the current economic climate, is no mean feat. Units have been sold in China to monitor drinking water intake on river waters, and is presently being trialled in the UK."
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