Wearable tech inspired by animals could prevent injuries
When we think of wearable technology, what usually springs to mind are smart devices that can be worn on the body, like smartwatches tracking how many steps we take, and glasses that provide us with immersive experiences.
However the latest in wearable tech could be the creation of a London university graduate, who's taken inspiration from animal skins to design a type of cast that can protect athletes from injury.
Natalie Kerres is a graduate from the Global Innovation Design master’s programme, offered jointly by Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art. She researched animals that protect themselves against threats with their skins, shells or scales, to create a product for humans that can protect them in the same way, without inhibiting flexibility.
The result is SCALED, so-called because it's made from interlocking protective scales, referencing animals like lizards and fish, that Kerres took inspiration from. It functions like a cast but doesn't limit movement, as the interlocking scales are bespoke to provide precise motion limitation for the wearer. It is also custom made to fit the wearer's body shape and requirements.
The scales can prevent injuries from happening in the first place, and could also be used for improving rehabilitation and enhancing sports performance.
The project recently received funding from the MedTech SuperConnector programme (MTSC), for Natalie to further develop Scaled, with the aim of making it commercially available. The MTSC facilitates the early stage development of innovative medical technologies, from devices, diagnostics, and digital healthcare solutions. MTSC provides participants with funding, training, membership and access to industry partners to help fast-track their research discoveries to market.
The six-month programme features masterclasses in business, mentorship, networking, project development and funding, ending with an investment pitch. Natalie will be working at the Additive Manufacturing Lab at the Dyson School of Design Engineering, part of Imperial College London.
Bachem turns 50 - a timeline
Bachem, a supplier to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies worldwide, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month. We take a look at the Swiss company's history.
1971 - beginnings
Bachem is founded by entrepreneur Peter Grogg in Liestal, a small town near Basel in Switzerland. Grogg started the firm with just two employees, and with a focus on peptide synthesis - peptides are composed of amino acids that have a variety of functions treating health conditions such as cancer and diabetes.
1977 - 1981 - early growth
Bachem moves its headquarters to the Swiss town of Bubendorf, with eight employees. In 1978 the company produces peptides for use in medicines for the first time. In 1981 production capacity triples and the workforce grows to 150.
1987 - 1996 - worldwide expansion
The company expands into the US with Bachem Bioscience, Inc. in Philadelphia. To strengthen its presence in Europe, Bachem opens sales and marketing centres in Germany in 1988.
Further sales centres open in France in 1993. By 1995 the company employs 190 people. In 1996 it acquires the second largest manufacturer of peptides in the world and forms Bachem California with a site in Torrance.
1998 - 2003 - Bachem goes public
Bachem company goes public and lists shares on the Swiss Stock Exchange. Further acquisitions include Peninsula Laboratories, Inc, based in California, and Sochinaz SA, a Swiss-based manufacturer of active pharmaceutical ingredients. By 2001, the company has 500 employees and sales reach 141 million CHF.
In 2003 the organisation is given a new legal holding structure to support its continued growth, which remains in place to this day.
2007 - 2013 - acquisitions
Bachem acquires a brand by Merck Biosciences for ready-to-use clinical trial materials and related services.
In 2013, together with GlyTech, Inc. Bachem announces the development of a new amino acid that can help to treat multiple sclerosis, with a world market of more than $4 billion.
In 2015 it acquires the American Peptide Company (APC), which becomes integrated into Bachem Americas.
2016 - 2019 - a global leader
In 2016 the group opens a new building dedicated to R&D projects and small series production in Bubendorf. With a total of 1,022 employees, the workforce exceeds the 1,000 mark for the first time in the company’s history. Sales are over the 200 million mark for the first time at 236.5 million CHF.
Bachem expands into Asia with the establishment of a new company in Tokyo called Bachem Japan K.K.
By 2019 Bachem has a growing oligonucleotide portfolio - these are DNA molecules used in genetic testing, research, and forensics. It is hoped this will become a significant product range in the future.
2020 - COVID-19
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Bachem secures its supply of active ingredients, and even increases it in critical areas. Sales exceed the 400 million Swiss franc mark for the first time, and 272 new employees are hired.
2021 - a milestone anniversary
Bachem celebrates its 50th anniversary and position as a global leader in the manufacture of peptides. While it remains headquartered in Bubendorf, the company employs 1,500 people at six locations worldwide. In the next five years there are plans to continue expanding.
Commemorating the company's anniversary, Kuno Sommer, Chairman of the Board of Directors, said: "Bachem's exceptional success story from a small laboratory to a global market leader is closely linked to Peter Grogg's values, and has been shaped by innovation, consistent quality and cost awareness, as well as by entrepreneurial vision."