Synthetic bone replacement Aerograft wins engineering award

A researcher has just won an award for developing a synthetic bone replacement that can be used in dental procedures.

Dr Niall Kent, a post-doctoral researcher at UCL, was given the JC Gammon Launchpad Award, including £15,000 to expand his start-up, which he founded with Dr Alessia D’Onofrio. They produced Aerograft, a new material that can be adapted for different dental procedures. At the moment, when a patient needs an implant or is missing part of their jaw, dentists have to use synthetic bone replacements or real bone from a donor cadaver. Aerograft is a more sophisticated alternative to both and is especially innovative given that there’s apparently been little progress in this field for decades.

The financial prize is just one benefit of the award, which was created by the Royal Academy of Engineering in order to find the UK’s best tech entrepreneurs aged 16-25. Kent, who is 25, will also receive mentoring and the chance to pitch to angel investors over the next year.

The other two finalists, both of whom are just 22, will also receive mentoring support. Hind Kraytem is the CEO of Radial Genomics, which combines software with lab techniques to provide a more accurate and less invasive way of diagnosing breast cancer. James Popper developed the Sinclair Kitchen Fire Detector, which uses infrared technology to detect blazes quickly, and was inspired after a family friend with dementia suffered significant fire damage to her home.

All three finalists pitched their ideas to a judging panel of business and technology experts, plus angel investor Sherry Coutu, who was the keynote speaker, and HRH the Duke of York, who handed out the prizes. The finalists will all now become members of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Enterprise Hub, which offers exclusive networking opportunities. The Duke said, ‘Engineering is one of the widest market spheres, yet one of the least understood. We can change that by encouraging young people to deliver innovative ideas. The key is giving them the support and mentoring that they need, and the Launchpad competition delivers exactly that.’

Diane Shipley