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A4I keeps supporting UK businesses: water management and wound treatment case studies

Analysis for Innovators (A4I) is a programme led by Innovate UK that enables innovation and improves productivity and competitiveness for UK businesses through solving existing measurement analysis problems. A4I provides companies access to world-leading scientists and research facilities, through partnerships with the National Measurement System laboratories (National Measurement Laboratory (NML)) at LGC, National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and National Engineering Laboratory (NEL) and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). The funding partners run some of the most advanced measurement and analytical technologies available in the world. 

The programme builds successful relationships between science institutions and UK companies. It attracts and engages companies, particularly SMEs, that have not undertaken R&D before or have not previously had the ability to access measurement and analysis expertise and facilities.

The programme is now on its sixth round and, so far, has funded more than 130 projects. This year A4I partners are focused on working with SME businesses from across the UK delivering real-world impact. Evaluation of the programme has shown that over 80% of companies have greatly or moderately increased their commercial opportunity as a result of their A4I project. Companies involved in the programme expect sales, licensing and cost reductions of up to £125 million as a result of working with the National Measurement System laboratories and the STFC. Companies report 19 full-time equivalent jobs created and 312 full-time equivalent jobs are expected to be created within the five years following projects. Project areas can cover very different topics, such as bioscience development, consumer products and wearable technology. Here are two examples of successfully funded projects:


The pollution of water supplies is a global risk of the highest concern that can adversely affect human health. One group of contaminants are poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that can cause significant environmental damage to freshwater and marine fauna, contaminating surface and groundwaters that supply drinking water. They have been associated with a host of health effects, including cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility and increased risk of asthma and thyroid disease. Puraffinity, a company that specialises in designing and manufacturing novel advanced materials for environmental benefit, have developed a new class of targeted adsorbent media to selectively capture PFAS for commercial water purification applications. Using NML at LGC’s mass spectrometry expertise (LC-MS and UVVis), Puraffinity has accurately characterised the molecular receptor structure that binds the target molecules and developed methods to give insight into the complex reaction monitoring process. This helps Puraffinity to make product formulation improvements to improve performance and also generates data to support certification of the product for drinking water applications, a critical step to accelerating their route to product validation and commercialisation.

“Through the A4I project, we tapped into world-leading characterisation data with high data integrity, allowing us to scale up UK based manufacturing to the tonne/year scale and significantly improve our new product development cycles.” – Puraffinity.

Smith + Nephew

Patients with chronic or acute wounds, such as diabetic ulcers, burns and post-operative wounds, need advanced wound care to help reduce infection and improve healing. With an ageing population that is more prone to chronic illnesses, and where natural healing processes are slower and less efficient, wound care is becoming ever more important. NML is working closely with Smith + Nephew (S+N), a global medical devices company, to support the development of their novel wound treatment products. Using NML’s unique mass spectrometry capabilities (spICP-MS, A4FICP-MS), the collaboration has provided invaluable data for material characterisation and stability studies of the nanomaterials in the wound dressing. This work will support S+N to comply with EU and FDA regulatory requirements and to reduce the human and economic cost of wounds, improving patient outcomes and conserving resources for health systems. 

This year’s applications closed recently, and the successful applicants will be notified in November, with the new projects starting in 2022. NML at LGC is looking forward to working on the new projects that will lead to new opportunities to help UK business.  

About the National Measurement Laboratory

The National Measurement Laboratory (NML), hosted at LGC, delivers underpinning chemical and bio-measurement science for the UK and forms part of the UK National Measurement System (NMS). The NML is the Designated Institute for chemical and bio-measurement and supports the work of the Government Chemist, a unique statutory function that provides expert opinion and advice to Government.

Our research areas span the sectors of advanced therapeutics, diagnostics and safety and security and are delivered through the four core streams of measurement research, calibration facilities, reference materials, and training and consultancy. Measurement capabilities comprise state-of-the-art mass spectrometry, PCR and cell characterisation of products and processes, with many testing and calibration services accredited to ISO/IEC 17025. We play a leading role internationally to develop best practice and standardise measurements across the world, in turn providing further confidence in the UK’s science and technology capabilities.

Through improved chemical and bio-measurements we support manufacture and trade, protect consumers, further skills development and enhance quality of life.

About LGC

LGC is a leading, global life science tools company, providing mission-critical components and solutions into high-growth application areas across the human healthcare and applied market segments. Its high-quality product portfolio is comprised of mission-critical tools for genomic analysis and for quality assurance applications, which are typically embedded and recurring within our customers’ products and workflows and are valued for their performance, quality and range.

LGC’s tools play a key role in customer workflows from discovery applications through to commercial manufacture and enable its customers to bring new diagnostics and therapies to market; to progress research and development; to optimise food production; and to continuously monitor and enhance the quality of food, the environment and consumer products.

LGC’s 175+ years of scientific heritage, combined with a track record of innovation and value-enhancing acquisitions, has enabled the company to build its product portfolio and expertise, and develop deep relationships with customers, industry partners and the global scientific community.

LGC’s core purpose of Science for a safer world and its core values of passion, curiosity, integrity, brilliance and respect, drive its culture. As of 30 June 2021, it employs 4,350 employees, of which over 1,175 employees hold PhD and/or master’s degrees. Its products and services are delivered by highly qualified and experienced teams, operating from a global network of accredited sites that showcase its scientific and manufacturing capabilities.

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