University of Nottingham

Nottingham Vortex: scalable process platform to accelerate discovery to production.

Company overview

A collaborative research group spanning chemistry through engineering from the University of Nottingham have developed a vortex reactor technology.
The team are passionate about helping transform the way chemicals are made more sustainably, particularly using light and electricity to replace frequently toxic and wasteful reagents with continuous manufacturing called flow chemistry. 

The aim of their technology is that the new reactors will make photochemistry and electrochemistry easier in flow chemistry, allowing them to work with companies to put this technology into the marketplace.

Their continuous-flow Vortex Reactor provides access to Photo-/Electro- and Thermal chemistries in single or linked reactors. The Reactor decouples residence time from mixing efficiency delivering high-productivity, simple operation and scale-up. The Reactor is capable of Gram-to-10 Kilo Scale production of pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, and fine chemicals in a small-footprint reactor. This will allow them to work with manufacturing companies with what would be plug in and play for flow chemistry.
Our programme manager – Emily Vipond from the RSC caught up with the University of Nottingham’s Professor Michael (Mike) George to find out what they had been up to since winning the 2023 Emerging Technologies Competition in the Enabling Technologies category.

What have you been up to since winning the competition?
Since winning the competition, the University of Nottingham group have been looking to work with LED manufacturers; they are closely linking now, with the pharmaceutical sector and many end users to license their technology. They are taking it from proof-of-concept scale to being commercially available. Mike says, ‘the advice from the judges in choosing your partners carefully going forward on this has been really valuable’.
Alongside these conversations, Mike and the team are developing the technology further to give enhanced performance in the areas of photo, electro, and thermal chemistry. 
What made you apply to the Emerging Technologies Competition?

University of Nottingham had applied in 2022, Mike says ‘perhaps we focused on the technology too much, the judges initial feedback was extremely helpful then’. They took the feedback on board and re-applied highlighting the huge advances they had made not only with their technology but their business plan too.  Mike goes on to say ‘It was a unique opportunity to promote our reactor technology and secure core seed funding to accelerate our commercialisation. 

What did you like best about taking part in the Emerging Technologies Competition?

Mike says ‘it was a really humbling experience to win. With so many terrific companies, there was a great spirit of innovation and infectious enthusiasm.’ He goes onto to say the publicity pre and post event has opened many opportunities. Concluding ‘when you win the prize its not just the prize, it’s validation of the technology that makes the experience really valuable’.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to apply to the 2024 Emerging Technologies Competition?
Mike’s advice ‘be clear on your USP, why would you make the difference, be bold but realistic and have evidence. Remember that it is a business competition and not focused just on the technology. Just go for it!’

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Read about what our 2023 winners have been up to since winning. 

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