Sphere Fluidics and Heriot-Watt University in Scotland have been awarded a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) grant from UK innovation agency Innovate UK.

The grant is for the development of droplet generator instrumentation that will build on Sphere Fluidics’ portfolio of microfluidic instruments for advanced biologics discovery and therapeutic cell line development.

As part of the two-year project, the company will employ a novel platform for semi-automated picodroplet production to improve control of droplet production, using advanced imaging technology.

The project will also facilitate research across a range of picodroplet techniques. It is expected to allow scientists to discover rare cell phenotypes and help them solve a range of biological questions, including antibody discovery and synthetic biology.

As part of the project, Heriot-Watt University Associate Professor Dr John McGrath will join Sphere Fluidics’ team as a research scientist in physics and engineering to support the development works.

Sphere Fluidics Research and Development vice-president Dr Marian Rehak said: “This innovative project with Heriot-Watt University will bring together aspects of microfluidic and optical design, technology development and product design engineering to develop a new class of instrument for cell-based picodroplet discovery.

“We are delighted to have been awarded the KTP Fellowship and to welcome Dr John McGrath to the Sphere Fluidics team. The work demonstrates the importance of collaboration between academic and industrial partners to support the advancement of novel microfluidic technologies for groundbreaking research.”

Sphere Fluidics’ picodroplet-based technologies offer improved throughput, accuracy and sensitivity to enable leading-edge research and accelerate biopharmaceutical discovery and development.

Commenting on the development, Dr McGrath said: “This partnership between Heriot-Watt University and Sphere Fluidics will support the rapid translation of academic findings into intelligent technological solutions. The microfluidic platform in development can be utilised by scientists to solve a range of important biological questions across the life sciences sector.”