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Business engagement and innovation

As Co-Directors of Business Engagement and Innovation, we work with colleagues in Exeter Innovation to develop a culture of innovation in Biosciences. We encourage all our staff and students to consider commercialising their research and engage with industry, charities, and government agencies to maximise the impact of their research.

Chris Thornton and Nic Harmer

Professor Chris Thornton and Dr Nic Harmer - Co-Directors of Business Engagement and Innovation

Within the Department of Biosciences, our partners will have access to a broad range of world-class expertise and state-of-the-art research facilities. We work closely with our partners across our core thematic areas, offering a flexible and tailored approach to each engagement. The following provides different modes of interaction and collaboration.

Engagement opportunities

  • Access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities
  • R&D collaboration projects
  • PhDs and industrial fellowships
  • Contract Research & Consultancy

Knowledge exchange activities

  • Joint appointments and secondments
  • Knowledge transfer partnership (KTP) projects 

Training and professional development

  • Degree Apprenticeships
  • Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
  • Specialised training

Key areas of expertise and capabilities

Our partners will have access to a diverse range of expertise and resources in Biosciences, including:

  • Engineering Biology
  • Cell and developmental biology
  • Biochemistry and structural biology
  • Plant and crop disease and food security
  • Host-microbe interactions and immunity
  • Medical mycology
  • Bacteriology
  • Microbial ecology, evolution, and genetics
  • Virology and phage therapy
  • Aquaculture
  • Ecotoxicology
  • Biodiversity and conservation

Linked resources

Biosciences and the wider University include state-of-the-art facilities and related expertise, which can be accessed by our partners.

Aquatic Resources Centre

  • Aquaria with freshwater and marine species
  • Sustainable aquaculture

Bioimaging facility

  • Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) 

Cytometry facilities

  • Quantitative Imaging Cytometry
  • Single Cell Genomics

DNA Sequencing Facility

  • Long and short read sequencing
  • Single-cell sequencing
  • Oxford Nanopore sequencing

Greenhouse and controlled plant growth facilities

  • Molecular plant pathology
  • Cell biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Genetics

Mass Spectrometry Facility

  • Metabolomics analysis

Case studies

ISCA Diagnostics

Established in 2012 by Professor Christopher Thornton, ISCA Diagnostics Ltd. is a University of Exeter spin-out company specialising in rapid point-of-care tests for life-threatening fungal infections of humans.

ISCA Diagnostics enables bench-to-bedside translation of hybridoma technology to the medical sector, providing easy access to highly specific monoclonal antibodies for research and diagnosis of human mycoses.

ISCA’s flagship diagnostic is the Aspergillus lateral-flow test that allows rapid bedside detection of invasive pulmonary aspergillosis, a devastating lung disease of immunocompromised patients.

Commercialisation of the test and its uptake by hospitals around the world was recognised at the University of Exeter Knowledge Exchange Awards in 2022, where Professor Thornton and ISCA Diagnostics Ltd. won the ‘Commercialisation Project of the Year’ award. 

Image by Steve Haywood

Contact us

For more information about engagement opportunities within Biosciences, please contact Nic Harmer: and Chris Thornton: