Medtech innovator accelerates R&D and manufacture of groundbreaking cancer treatment after Analysis for Innovators (A4I) funding

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LightOx’s light-activated solution is the first of its kind in the UK

A medtech innovator has accelerated its R&D and manufacture of its groundbreaking cancer treatment, after funding from Innovate UK’s Analysis for Innovators (A4I) programme.

LightOx, based in Newcastle, has developed a UK-first solution for early-stage mouth cancers using light-activated chemotherapy.

The treatment involves a gel being applied to the affected area and the drug activated with light. It is undergoing preclinical testing, is quick, simple and non-invasive with fewer side effects than surgery and significantly improves the overall patient experience.

Through Analysis for Innovators (A4I), a grant funding programme run by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, LightOx was able to access expertise and an unparalleled range of state-of-the-art laser technology at Central Laser Facility (CLF), an institution of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (SFTC), near Oxford.

As a result, the company has been able to further explore the potential design and manufacturer of its solution, which has the potential to revolutionise light-based therapeutic markets globally.

Simon Yarwood, Knowledge Transfer Manager – Industrial Technologies, A4I, said: “The main mission of A4I is to allow companies to ramp up their productivity and competitiveness by solving hard technical analysis problems. We introduce them to some unique partner organisations that have world class skills and cutting-edge facilities.

“The programme provided funded access to cutting-edge R&D and expertise to accelerate LightOx’s capacity to raise the bar on every aspect of the operations and product development. We are seeing many similar success stories along the same lines with innovators across the UK in fields of biomanufacturing and manufacturing across sectors.”

Prof. Carrie Ambler, Chief Scientific Officer at LightOx, said: “Our new technologies fundamentally change the way in which light-based therapies are delivered to the patient.

“When one of our customers demonstrated our compounds were capable of something called two photon absorption 1, we had neither the equipment nor expertise to be able to study that exciting process. But with the help of CLF, we gained new insights into how to further develop these products, how to make them better, how to make them different and most importantly – how to make them more suited for different applications.

“The A4I partnership has empowered us to transform our business and enabled us to look at problems and develop solutions in a new way.”

The scientists at CLF collaborated with LightOx to bring different backgrounds and knowledge towards a common cause – to improve on the product. CLF enabled LightOx to capture new measurements, something that was not possible without the specialist equipment.

Prof. Ambler added: “The collaboration with A4I and CLF helped us characterise the photo-physical properties of our products on market. This information yielded new product applications that we can share with our customers as well as opening new commercial avenues.”

LightOx’s product is already on the market and is currently being tested in hospitals and universities.

Recently, the company received a significant re-order from Merck to restock their supply.

The company specialises in cell imaging, detection, tracking and tagging of bioactive molecules through fluorescence and Raman imaging techniques.

A4I has been running since 2016 and brings together nine national centres of excellence in measurement, tackling challenges affecting existing processes, products or services.

Across nine rounds of funding, it has supported more than 250 companies resulting in over £600M of benefit for those businesses, including increased productivity and turnover, reduced waste, and the creation of new and upskilled jobs.

The programme helps businesses access cutting-edge R&D and expertise of skills and equipment at nine national measurement centres across the country whilst offering grant funding for some or all of the project costs.

The 10th round is underway, to learn more about how A4I can help your business and to read more success stories from the programme, visit

Two photon absorption is when a material absorbs the combined energy of two photons of light, resulting in unique effects and applications.