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Low-cost sensor joins battle to save the world’s water resources

EEN support helps Cambridge business raise finance and find partners to take its smart technology to the high seas and beyond.

Written by Kirsten Masson on 15 August 2017

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Underwater shot of the sea surface with sunny beams and waves

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£100,000 contract

£60,000 grant funding

€50,000 of EU funding

Cambridgeshire company ANB Sensors Ltd is developing affordable ‘smart sensor’ technology to help conservationists improve the measurement of acidity levels that are threatening the health of the world’s oceans.

 

With the benefit of this innovative, autonomous measuring of environmental markers, scientists, environmentalists and regulatory bodies will be able to monitor more accurately the effects of CO2 emissions on the world’s oceans and water networks.

 

ANB has recently agreed a £100,000 contract with the National Environmental Research Council to deploy its sensors on the National Oceanographic Centre’s fleet of autonomous underwater vehicles.

 

The technology can also measure pH levels in drinking water, so the Cambourne-based company is talking to utilities and sensor manufacturers in the UK and overseas.

 

Enterprise Europe Network in the East of England has played a key role in helping ANB to map out key routes to market as well as partnering and funding opportunities.

 

These have also highlighted new market opportunities that magnify the commercial potential of ANB’s smart sensor, including a medical application being explored in a collaborative feasibility project supported by Innovate UK.

 

Pitch training from their EEN adviser has also paid off as ANB secured more than £60,000 of grant funding in the first half of 2017 to take its patented sensor platform to the next stage of commercialisation.

 

EEN first alerted the company to Innovate UK’s Global Feasibility funding, the grant enabling them to identify potential customers and market needs and then develop relationships with sensing manufacturers, distributors and end-users.

 

Once their EEN adviser guided the firm through a successful application for €50,000 of EU funding from the SME Instrument programme, ANB Sensors had a clear idea of the size of the market and routes to commercialisation.  

 

Progress has continued through 2017 with the award of an Innovate UK grant worth £100,000 to build the next generation of its sensor system.  ANB’s project partner is Zimmer and Peacock, who will be developing the electronic components.

 

ANB’s technology is not restricted to monitoring oceans.  Thanks to advice from EEN and support from Innovate UK, ANB now sees the ocean monitoring market as only the tip of the iceberg.  

 

The company is currently working with another Cambridgeshire SME, Stemnovate, to develop a stem cell-based ‘liver on a chip’ system, using ANB’s sensor technology at micro-level. The goal is improved drug testing that will help patients by making drugs safer and more effective and lead to individually-tailored treatments.

This last year has been a roller coaster. Without the vital support provided by the EEN, their input into our business model, pitch training and, most importantly, helping to source and securing new funding, we would not be looking at such a bright future.

Nathan Lawrence, ANB