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£1 million for ESA BIC UK company using stargazing technology to detect cancer

8th April 2019 - Pioneering UK company Adaptix is at the centre of a major £1million joint initiative that is using technology designed to search for stars in distant galaxies to develop a portable 3D medical x-ray machine for earlier cancer detection.

Cancers are often missed on traditional 2D X-rays and only discovered later when the disease is more advanced and more difficult to treat.

The initiative, funded by NHS England, the UK Space Agency and the European Space Agency, will enable doctors to scan patients in three dimensions, giving a more comprehensive view of areas where they suspect tumours are growing, aiding more effective treatment and earlier diagnosis.

Miniaturised, portable and connected through satellites, the Adaptix 3D X-ray machine will also allow patients to be scanned in doctors’ surgeries, reducing the need for trips to hospital for in-demand x-ray and CT scanners.

Adaptix started its life as a start-up at the European Space Agency’s Business Incubation Centre United Kingdom (ESA BIC UK) in November 2011, where it began to develop its technology.

Mark Evans, CEO of Adaptix Limited, said: "Working with ESA BIC at the world-renowned Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire's Harwell Campus has given us access to fantastic facilities and leading minds.  ESA's focus on commercialising space-heritage technology to create tangible benefits for the EU population and the UK economy has helped us to create 33 high-value UK jobs in R&D and, increasingly, in manufacturing.  Our vision is to create a business that will transform radiology through the export of high-science-content high-value products to achieve revenues of more than $100m.  X-ray is the primary diagnostic in healthcare, and one day we hope that Adaptix technology will touch the life of everyone that you know." 

Managed by STFC, the ESA BIC UK enables up to 12 UK start-ups every year to use space and satellite technologies to develop new products and services. Since opening in 2011 it has helped 73 start-up companies, 64 of which have already graduated from the centre and are now rocketing their way to commercial success as vibrant, growing businesses.

STFC’s Dr Sue O’Hare, Operations Manager at the ESA BIC UK, said: “At STFC we are extremely proud of the success stories that continue to come out of ESA BIC UK programme, each with the potential to bring significant benefit to both society and the UK economy. Adaptix’ success is clear proof that the ESA BIC UK is providing the perfect environment for start-ups to achieve real success in their sector using space technologies.”

Since graduating from the centre in November 2012, Adaptix has continued to carry out its research and development from laboratories and offices at STFC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, at the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire.

Notes to Editors

With three business incubation sites at Harwell, Daresbury and Edinburgh, the ESA BIC UK is part of a growing network of ESA BICs across Europe.

Companies that join the ESA BIC UK benefit from £41,500 funding, access to IP, technologies and expertise generated by ESA research, as well as to STFC’s world class expertise and technical facilities, with dedicated business support. 

Further information about the ESA BIC UK, how it can benefit your company can be found at the ESA BIC UK website, and more success stories here.

Last updated: 10 April 2019

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