Researcher gets into the spin at 80

February 10, 2006

An 80-year-old academic has created two spin-off companies from the results of experiments he conducted over almost four decades, writes Jessica Shepherd.

Colin Caro, emeritus professor in bioengineering at Imperial College London, agreed to take his ideas from the laboratory into industry when he was approached by his university's technology transfer office.

Imperial gave him £775,000, while investors and banks have supplied £2.55 million.

One of his companies, Veryan Medical Limited, will sell devices that prevent blocked arteries and heart disease by encouraging sluggish blood to flow. The products could reduce hospital visits for hundreds of thousands of dialysis patients.

The other company, HeliSwirl Technology Limited, will apply the understanding of biological flows to engineering problems.

Professor Caro hopes eventually to sell the companies or float them on the Alternative Investment Market, a stock exchange that opened in 1995 mainly to meet the needs of smaller new businesses.

The scientist, who is also a qualified medical doctor, said: "Some people have ideas in their twenties, others in their eighties. I felt I had a worthwhile contribution to make to global health. With these two companies, I am working harder now than ever before in my career.

"I am still interested in research, of course. It is just that I, like many other scientists, want to see a benevolent end to my work."

Brian Graves, head of the engineering and technology team at Imperial's technology transfer office, said Professor Caro was an inspiration to younger academics.

He said: "We have all sorts of academics exploiting their ideas, Professor Caro has so far been the most mature to start the process.

"There is the notion that entrepreneurs are young, but in fact they can be any age. The wider the experience and the more knowledge they have, the better."

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