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Award-winning chemistry start up secures £1m in funding

The Ziylo team

Press release issued: 12 July 2016

Ziylo, a start-up chemistry company from the University of Bristol, has secured more than £1 million of funding through government grants and private investment.

The Bristol team, which has now grown to nine full-time employees, is developing a sugar-sensing platform by utilising pioneering research surrounding a new family of synthetic sugar receptors, known as 'synthetic lectins'. Originally developed by The Davis Research Group at Bristol, led by Professor Anthony Davis, these molecules are some of the world's first artificial biomimetic sugar receptors.

Sugars are an important fuel source that drive nearly all biological processes. Monitoring this fuel intake gives real-time information on how organisms are functioning.  Ziylo's sugar sensing platform has applications in a broad range of industrial procedures where sugars need to be monitored continuously, including processes found inside bio-reactors and fermentation tanks.

Furthermore, the technology has applications in healthcare where for decades researchers have been racing to develop an accurate continuous sensor for blood glucose levels. This is especially important for diabetics who have been waiting for a simpler and more reliable way to find out their blood sugar levels.  

In recognition of their achievements, Ziylo were recently awarded the 'One to watch' prize by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) at their annual Emerging Technology competition.

CEO Dr Harry Destecroix said: "We are always encouraged to receive validation of our technology from prestigious bodies such as the RSC and Innovate UK. Our awards acknowledge the exciting and game changing technology Ziylo is working on. Now with the team and funding in place, we can fully pursue the commercialisation process."

Professor Nick Norman, Head of the School of Chemistry at the University of Bristol said: "I am delighted to see innovative research from the School of Chemistry being commercialised through start-up companies like Ziylo, and I wish them every success in the future. It is particularly gratifying that Ziylo was set up by Harry, a recent graduate from Chemistry, and that Ziylo also employs other Chemistry graduates and former research staff members."

Professor Anthony Davis has been at the forefront of research into the synthetic lectins for the last 20 years. Incorporated into these synthetic lectins are optically active molecules, whose properties change depending on the amount of sugar present.

Ziylo is currently developing a prototype system that detects these changes in the receptors' optical properties and thus offers new opportunities for more efficient, stable, accurate and continuous sugar sensing products. In recognition of his work, last year Professor Davis was awarded the 'Physical Organic Chemistry Award 2015' by the RSC.

Since incorporation in 2014, Ziylo's funding has included £500,000 awarded from Innovate UK as part of the 'Innovation-to-Commercialisation' ICURe programme, and £142,000 through the 'Innovation 4 Growth' funding scheme. 

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