Knowledge Transfer Partnership Associate, School of Engineering and Physical Sciences
Knowledge Transfer Partnership Associate with Sphere Fluidics Limited in microfluidic instrument development
Location Edinburgh, GB
Organization Name School of Engineering & Physical Sciences
About Heriot-Watt University
Heriot-Watt University has five campuses: three in the UK (Edinburgh, Scottish Borders and Orkney), one in Dubai and one in Malaysia. The University offers a highly distinctive range of degree programmes in the specialist areas of science, engineering, design, business and languages.
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About our Team
This Knowledge Transfer Partnership is a joint project between Heriot Watt University (HWU) in Edinburgh and Sphere Fluidics Limited (SFL), Cambridge, to transfer and embed research from the university into the company. For this two-year project the candidate will initially join Graeme Whyte’s research group at the Institute for Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering at Heriot-Watt University, for your initial introduction and training for the project (~3 months). Within Graeme’s lab at HWU, you will have access to state-of-the-art microfabrication, microscopy and microfluidic technology, and be fully supported with world-leading expertise in those fields. This project will build on Graeme’s experience in image-based closed-loop feedback for highly monodisperse picodroplet production. The associate will then be based full time for the remainder of the project at Sphere Fluidics Limited, which is located near Cambridge. Sphere Fluidics Limited is an established, Life Sciences company (formed in 2010) developing single cell analysis systems for high throughput screening in biologics discovery and development. It has a global presence and is currently selling its microfluidic and single cell encapsulation technologies via consumables, research instruments and integrated industrial microfluidic based platforms. The customer base includes biopharma, biotech, synthetic biology and some academic users. The novel microfluidic tools, allows complex processes to be miniaturised, scanning millions of single cells or molecules and isolating rare, valuable ones. SFL currently has 34 employees, is based near Cambridge and has over 300 international customers.
The successful candidate will work as part of a multidisciplinary team (engineering, software, chemistry and biology) to design and build a new instrument platform for semi-automated picodroplet production, this initial platform will lead on to several new commercial products. The successful applicant will learn new skills through a generous training budget and will be encouraged to attend and present their work at suitable international conferences.
A ‘Knowledge Transfer Partnership’ is funded by the InnovateUK with 17 other funding organisations and enables companies of any size to access additional scientific, engineering or management knowledge and expertise from universities and research organisations and to import new techniques and technologies into their businesses. This project is for the development of a new intelligent platform for a range of picodroplet techniques to allow scientists to discover rare cell phenotypes and to help to solve a range of biological questions ranging from antibody discovery to antimicrobial resistance, enzyme evolution and synthetic biology.
This position will integrate new academic approaches to picodroplet production as a platform technology for the life sciences sector, scaling down cell-based assays, in the picolitre range, to enable high-throughput screening for the discovery of rare phenotypes. This flexible instrument will demystify picodroplet generation and make this technology available to biologists and technologists with little or no microfluidics experience in a cost-efficient manner. This Picodroplet cell encapsulation system (PISCES) project will incorporate many new features not currently available commercially. The KTP associate will be supported by the teams at both SFL and HWU.
Using bespoke, micron-scale fluidic devices and high-speed microscopy imaging, you will develop an instrument for productization of highly monodisperse picodroplet production. Other uses of this platform are envisaged as the company further improves the flexibility of its instrumentation to address a wide range of biological high throughput screening applications.
The project, with the support of both HWU and SFL, will bring together aspects of microfluidic and optical design, software, electronics, technology development and product design engineering to develop a new class of instrument for cell-based picodroplet discovery. With such a diverse skill set collectively available this position offers a great opportunity for the associate to build up many new skills across a range of cutting-edge fields.
Key duties and responsibilities
The post holder is required to;
- Develop new microfluidic devices and technologies to productize monodisperse picodroplet production.
- Collaborate with appropriate team members on understanding the biological requirements that the instrument needs to be able to address, both now and in the future in relation to competitive market forces.
- Work closely with collaborators at Heriot Watt University to translate the research developments in to an alpha-prototype instrument and identify new challenges.
- Understand the current software and engineering strategies within SFL and help develop these initiatives into a new commercial instrument.
- Be keen to undertake appropriate training courses both given and self-taught with the appropriate support of all partnership team members.
- Develop the research objectives towards more sophisticated instruments based on the PISCES instrument.
- Maintain written records of research results and progress generated intellectual property and data analysis.
- Analyse and interpret the results of own research and generate original ideas based on outcomes.
- Build internal contacts and participate in internal networks for the exchange of information and learning both at SFL and HWU.
- Disseminate results of research at conferences, peer reviewed journals, and/or other appropriate media.
Education, qualifications and experience
- Applicants should hold an undergraduate degree (2:1 or 1st class) in a relevant subject area such as Physics, Engineering or Computer Science.
- Applicants should hold a PhD in a relevant area e.g. Physics, Engineering or Computer Science or are to demonstrate a similar level of research skills obtained through industrial research position.
- Previous experimental experience with one or more of the following: microfluidics/microdroplets, industrial machine control/automation, instrument development.
- Must be able to work as part of an interdisciplinary team.
- Must show good written English skills and be able to communicate both detailed technical knowledge and be able to communicate effectively with non-experts.
- Experience with one or more of the following: microdroplets, microfluidics, PDMS micro-fabrication, high-speed microscopy, quantitative image analysis, computer programming, instrument development.
- Experience of working in an interdisciplinary environment and communicating with those in other fields.
- Experience of working in or collaborating with a science or technology company.
- Experience of the commercialisation of novel products, or product development.
- Ability to undertake self-directed learning under supervision and think innovatively.
How To Apply
Applications can be submitted up to midnight (UK time) on 15 October 2019.
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We welcome and will consider flexible working patterns e.g. part-time working and job share options.
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Minimum Salary 30000
Maximum Salary 36000