Law firm’s Quantum leap | 22 April 10

LAW firm Ward Hadaway has played a key role in the creation of a hi-tech business involved in making so-called ‘designer molecules’.

Experts from Ward Hadaway advised the founders of Quantum Genetics Ltd ( on setting up the company, which is a spin-out from Northumbria University in Newcastle.

The law firm’s intellectual property team also made arrangements to ensure the new company was able to license technology developed at the university.

Quantum Genetics has pioneered a process for identifying new catalysts and reactants which can be used in the process industries.

The technique - Quantum Directed Genetic Algorithms™ (QDGA™) - uses computational chemistry to predict as-yet-unimagined new molecules with the right properties for the industrial application.

Until the advent of QDGA, computational chemistry has been used merely to analyse the results of laboratory testing.

However, QDGA takes this several stages further by allowing users to see the effects of changing variables such as weight, toxicity and volatility. In this way, it helps research and development staff to produce their own ‘designer molecules’.

Dr Marcus Durrant, pioneer of QDGA and Technical Director of Quantum Genetics, explained: “The process is conducted primarily in the computer and intellectual domains rather than in the confines of the laboratory.

“This means that as well as focusing on the chemistry of a required application, users can also include almost anything inside and outside normal experimental domains, such as commodity-price and volatility, environmental impact, boiling point, toxicity and weight.

“This ability to consider a wide set of key issues in the early phases of product development can have a radical and disruptive impact on the cost of bringing new products to market.”

Dr Durrant said the process brings a range of additional benefits compared with traditional lab-based methodology including reduced development costs and the ability to create novel solutions and products with strong patent potential.

The software has applications in areas as diverse as pharmaceuticals, food and confectionary, metal extraction, consumer chemicals and petrochemicals.

Northumbria University has taken an equity stake in Quantum Genetics, which is also being backed by hi-tech consultancy Commercial Catalyst, as well as Quantum’s founders.

Ward Hadaway prepared the equity agreement between Quantum and Northumbria, as well as advising on the spin-out of the company and technology licensing.

Alex Shiel, partner and head of intellectual property at Ward Hadaway, led the firm’s team on the project.

Alex said: “Quantum Genetics have developed genuinely ground-breaking software which has a wide range of applications across different sectors.

“Our work with the company will help to ensure that the hard work and dedication which the team at Quantum have put in to bring QDGA to market will hopefully be rewarded with commercial returns.”

Ward Hadaway advises a wide range of organisations working at the cutting edge of technology, including software developers, online operators and research and development companies.

Quantum Genetics is the first business to be developed out of Northumbria University’s High Performance Business Development Programme.

This matches commercial and academic skills with development funding to create spin-outs that are built on the research base at the University.

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