A specialist medical device company spun out of the University of Glasgow has won a prestigious physics award for ‘revolutionising’ drugs inhalation technology.

Nebu~Flow, which worked out a way to compress particles to such a small size that they were absorbed more easily into the lungs, scooped a top prize from the Institute of Physics.

The firm won the best startup award for “exceptional efforts in the application of surface acoustic waves to a new generation of nebulisers with the potential to transform respiratory drug delivery”.

It received the award at the Institute of Physics Business Innovation and Growth Showcase at the UK Parliament this week, at which Nebu~Flow’s technology was demonstrated.

The Institute of Physics’s Business Awards recognise the significant contribution that physicists and physics make in industry.

CEO and co-founder Dr Elijah Nazarzadeh said: “We’re thrilled to receive the award for our disruptive nebuliser technology. Essentially, we have been able to harness acoustic energy to aerosolise liquids in a way that enables more efficient drug delivery of biologies to treat respiratory disorders.”

Professor Sir Keith Burnett, Institute of Physics president, said: “All of this year’s winners have creatively applied physics to bring about positive change to individuals, societies or economies, by tackling a new problem or improving on a previous solution, and all are thoroughly deserving of an IOP Business Award.”

Dr John Pritchard, chairman, Nebu~Flow, said: “At Nebu~Flow, we are proud to lead the charge in reshaping the future of inhalation drug delivery to treat respiratory disorders, which are a leading cause of death and disability in the world.” 

Last year, Nebu~Flow raised a pre-seed £1.7 million investment led by Foresight Williams Technology, and the company has just embarked on its next external investment round which will see it move towards the commercialisation stage.  

With a view to commercialisation, Nebu~Flow recently hired Graham Matthews from Philips Home Healthcare Solutions to drive its business development function. Additionally, Dr Gary Pitcairn, formerly head of project leadership (respiratory) at AstraZeneca, joined Nebu~Flow’s advisory board. 

Nebu~Flow has accelerated its product development activities in 2023, has patents in place in the US and Canada, now has a team of 11 at its Glasgow headquarters, and the company’s prototype has achieved high levels of drug delivery precision, at over 90 per cent. Nebu~Flow expects to announce its first commercial agreements during 2025. 

Dr Nazarzadeh added: “Our system promises to revolutionise the way pharmaceuticals are administered, and we’re actively engaged with a number of leading pharmaceutical and medical device groups worldwide. 

“What marks our technology out from the rest of the industry, which is hitting the right notes with potential customers, is around how we can ensure an optimal dosage reaches the target site with unprecedented accuracy, reducing drug delivery time and enhancing clinical outcomes.” 

Nebu~Flow’s nebuliser has been developed to provide a number of advantages over existing technologies in a global nebuliser market valued at close to £1 billion. Overall, the worldwide inhalable drug market is estimated to be worth approximately £35 billion.