Improving the productivity of topical drug delivery through in situ academic entrepreneurship

Lead Participant: University of Surrey


This secondment will enable the applicant to closely collaborate with Biox Systems Ltd in assessing the feasibility of a new measurement technology. The technology will be used to measure skin absorption of pharmaceuticals. Such measurement is critical to support the development of topical drugs in, for example, dermatology, pain relief, skin infection treatment, wound healing, and vaccination. The technology could also be used for the development of consumer skin care products, and for risk assessment of skin exposure to occupational and environmental pollutants.

Topical drug delivery has a vast market with global sales of USD93.2 bn in 2019\. In this space, the UK is host to many biomedical businesses specialising in drug development, delivery devices, contract research and manufacturing, innovative instruments, etc., further underpinned by a vibrant research base supported by public and private funding. Topical drug development relies on measurement of drug delivery into the skin in both preclinical research and clinical trials. However, there is a lack of low-cost, non-invasive instruments for such measurement. Existing invasive and non-invasive approaches are time-consuming, expensive and labour-intensive. This gap in measurement capability is a major contributor to the low efficiency associated with topical drug development, and thus a major cause of the high cost to patients.

The secondment will exploit the applicant's expertise in skin penetration research, computational modelling and engineering skills, supported by Biox's 20 years' innovation in skin measurement. The basis for innovation will be the principle of dielectric permittivity of skin as modified by absorbed drug ingredients. The project will use computer modelling and experimental methods to improve understanding of the measurement process and evaluate the technical and commercial feasibility of this technology. The project will deliver results, IP, know-how and tools that could be used in the next-stage of R&D towards a viable product and service.

The applicant will participate in Biox's commercial activities to learn the necessary steps required to translate innovative technologies into successful commercial products and services. The secondment will be a critical enabler for the applicant to develop further as a leading industry-orientated scientist and academic entrepreneur. Biox will benefit from the secondee's expertise in topical drug delivery to accelerate their R&D with much reduced risk. The project will have the potential to produce technologies that can help improve the efficiency and productivity of the pharmaceutical industry, ultimately benefiting the society in terms of new, more effective and inexpensive medicines.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

University of Surrey, United Kingdom £68,071 £ 68,071


Biox Systems Limited


10 25 50