Entrepreneur of the Year - Joint Winner
Dr Elijah Nazarzadeh, James Watt School of Engineering
Dr Elijah Nazarzadeh from the James Watt School of Engineering has developed a novel nebuliser platform and led the formation of a spinout company, Nebu-Flow, to disrupt the respiratory drug delivery market.
Respiratory disorders are the main cause of death and disability in the world with an estimated cost of €400bn to society. These diseases, such as asthma and cystic fibrosis, are treated by the inhalation of drugs to the lungs. Nebu-Flow’s technology employs acoustic waves to disperse liquids in the form of an aerosol. Coupling these waves into micro-structured arrays enables to control the aerosol droplet size within this clinically proven effective range.
In addition to better drug delivery efficiency, Nebu-Flow’s patented technology enables the delivery of hard-to-nebulise drugs including fragile biologics and personalised medicine (for example, gene therapy) as a unique selling point. These are potentially life changing drugs with the potential to become cures for intractable diseases such as cystic fibrosis.
Nebu-Flow aims to provide a new delivery technology for chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders (COPD) and cystic fibrosis drugs with an estimated market value of $15.2bn. As the enabling technology, Nebu-Flow can be the leader of the $5bn biologics market.
Dr Nazarzadeh has led the development of the technology since 2015. He recognised its potential impact in respiratory drug delivery, a new area for the research group, early in the project and set objectives for his post-doctoral work to demonstrate this. He pushed the scientific developments towards extensive validation of the technology.
Elijah has received many accolades, such as being selected in the BioCity Accelerator programme, reaching the top 8 at the Converge Challenge in 2019 and being awarded both a competitive EPSRC IAA and an MRC Confidence in Concept grant toward the translation of the technology.
He was also awarded a Royal Society of Edinburgh Unlocking Ambition fellowship, a flagship scheme supported by Scottish Government for the best 20 entrepreneurs in Scotland. During his Fellowship, Elijah successfully evaluated the technology with leading companies in the respiratory drug delivery market and engaged with them in co-development discussions.
Elijah has actively engaged with industry and stakeholders to build a strong network in the field and assemble an out-standing team of advisors. Nebu-Flow recently received the prestigious Higgs award from Scottish Edge which will enable the company to secure employment of its team and accelerate its product development.
Elijah has been recognised for his great passion to commercialise the Nebu-Flow technology, displaying strong leadership skills and his desire to ensure patients suffering from respiratory disorders get better treatments.