Enhancing R&D through Industrial Fellowships

T∆S Ltd

T∆S, a spinout company of The University of Oxford, was founded in 2005 by Professor Kieran Clarke.

Professor Clarke has worked at Oxford since 1991, becoming Professor of Physiological Biochemistry and heading the group that looks into Cardiac Metabolism. The company was born from a request in 2003 from the US army, for researchers to develop a way to send soldiers into battle with optimum energy intake.

Clarke’s group explored the use of ketones as a fuel, which turned out to be highly fruitful path for their research. By 2005, the research was generating so much intellectual property that starting a business was the only way to commercialise their significant findings, and T∆S was born.

T∆S was first introduced to the Industrial Fellowships scheme in 2014 after Professor Clarke attended a talk where the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 presented their work.  Brianna Stubbs, a medical student and an elite athlete, had just begun working part time with T∆S, and the Industrial Fellowship appeared the perfect way for her to acquire a DPhil at Oxford whilst researching for the company.

The research Brianna undertook throughout her Fellowship enriched the understanding that T∆S had of their product.  She was interested in the why the ketone drink they had produced was able to suppress feelings of hunger and enhance the performance of elite athletes.  She published her research in the prestigious journal Cell Metabolism.

As a result, the company is armed with scientific literature demonstrating the molecular-level effectiveness of their product, which they would not have had time to complete otherwise as they went through FDA approval and clinical trials. Interested parties in the fundamental science can be directed to Brianna’s publications in order to learn more. Their current Industrial Fellow, David Dearlove, is equally expanding their knowledge on ketones through his doctoral studies. Professor Clarke noted that she suspects few other companies creating nutritional products have quite as much knowledge of how their product is metabolised in the body.

T∆S was first introduced to the Industrial Fellowships scheme in 2014

The Industrial Fellowship programme has allowed T∆S to benefit from the new and dynamic knowledge that emerges from Oxford University’s physiology department. The students have been able to explore the product in unprecedented detail, gaining a doctorate whilst earning money for their work from the subsidised salary they receive.

Without the Commission, a small company like T∆S would not have been able to financially support their students through their studies. Made up of less than five staff, their busy schedules were unlikely to allow for detailed experimental work that was undertaken by the Fellows.

Brianna has gone on to represent T∆S as chief scientific advisor for the company’s US licensees, HVMN, whose drink is used by the US military and world-class athletes including Tour De France cyclists, NFL teams and top contenders in MMA and boxing. She advises people on how the product should be used based on scientific principles, continuing the work of T∆S and maintaining their reputation.

The Industrial Fellowship scheme helps small companies in a way that other similar schemes may not, as it does not discriminate as to the size of the company. T∆S was a successful, small organisation prior to taking on a student, but their knowledge of the product and scientific standing has been enriched by the work of the fellows and likely translated into sales indirectly. With minimal running costs, they benefit from the knowledge and enthusiasm of a talented student, who increases their own scientific knowledge along with learning about business practices.