Success Stories



“I would and have recommend them to other companies, and I will use them again, which is the highest praise you can give any company. We had some very innovative ideas that would help the UK technology industry, but needed quick and substantial funding to bring those idea to market. PNO understood our business very quickly, and were able to take the pain out of the application process. They are professional, immensely hard-working and successful in what they do. I could not think of a better organisation to help guide a company like ours to a successful grant outcome.” – Nigel Cannings, Director


Established in 1993, DATASYS delivers software solutions specialising in supplying complex rail management systems to the UK Train Operating Companies and their stakeholders. Over the last twenty years, DATASYS has gained an in depth knowledge of the rail industry and its requirements. This expertise is retained in house and used to drive DATASYS research, development and support services.

Andrew Bithell, Managing Director: “PNO Consultants expertly guided us from complete novices through to successful being awarded both a Smart and a Collaborative R&D grant from the Technology Strategy Board/Innovate UK. All the envisaged pain of the application process was completely avoided and we were extremely grateful for the professionalism and skill exhibited by the consultants from PNO. We certainly
see this as the beginning of a long running relationship.”

Successful Datasys Innovate UK Collaborative R&D June 2013

Rail Incident Manager

The project aims to develop and test an advanced, real time communication and reporting tool based around two applications for use on mobile devices operated by passengers and rail staff for which there is currently an unmet market need. The first application will be designed as an interface for the passenger, enabling them to report any issues associated with the railway network as well as a means of receiving automatic updates re key information e.g. their journey. The second application is designed for rail staff to record and report any service/safety critical/quality issues in real time.
Empowering employees and passengers to report issues and incidents in real time will greatly advance the capability to capture information and allow for more informed decisions to be made by a TOC and for timely action to be taken. Of importance is the ability to communicate key information to passengers in a more timely effective manner. The technology moves significantly beyond current management systems such as NR’s CCIL which do not allow for the capture of real time information from mobile devices which can often result in a failure to record all data or in a delay before action is taken.

Successful Innovate UK Datasys Smart Development of Prototype Award 2012

Day1: A Contextually Aware Mobile Application to revolutionise attribution in the UK rail industry

Despite improvements over the past 10 years, the punctuality of trains in the UK is far from satisfactory with figures published by Network Rail (NR) indicating that during 2011/12, only 69.8% of trains arrived within 59 seconds of schedule, with only 59.7% of long-distance rail services classified as on time. The punctuality of trains is a major issue not only for passengers but also the Train Operating Companies (TOC’s) and NR who face substantial financial penalties for failure to meet performance targets.

At present the process of giving reasons for delays and the analysis to improve performance, also known as attribution, is complex. Attribution involves bringing together information from different data streams on length of delays. The collection of information within the present attribution process is made difficult as the reasons for delays are not caught in real time. Also delays are not recorded until they rise above a three minute threshold. This not only results in a failure to correctly inform the passengers but most importantly prevents informed decisions to be made regarding performance improvements.


“Geotech engaged PNO when we commenced with our first FP7 project. They’ve been an integral part of our project and provided sound, coherent advice along the way. The fact the advice is practical and easy to understand/implement has meant that the anticipated burden of our first project has been significantly reduced, leaving us to focus on adding value to the project in conjunction with our partners. We would recommend PNO to others, without hesitation.”Dean Kavanagh, Operations Director


“G-volution is a UK based high technology start up that has used PNO Consultants since 2007, when we were awarded a £150,000 DTI grant to develop our technology. We became aware of their skills when, in 2007, we did not make the regional final of the Shell Springboard award. In 2008, with the help of PNO, we managed to win a Shell Springboard award (£40,000!).

In 2010-11-12 we have applied for two Innovate UK awards with PNO. In the first, they did such an excellent job that we were awarded some of the highest marks in our bid. In the second, having been given no time at all by us and our consortia, they delivered a first class application. PNO are an excellent team to work with because they are knowledgeable, professional and fun. In my (extensive) experience of seeking grant funding, you will not find a better team to partner with.” – Chris Smith, MD


KalVista Pharmaceuticals is developing novel plasma kallikrein inhibitors, which represent a new approach to the treatment of DME, the leading cause of adult visual loss in developed countries.

Robert Haigh, CEO: “KalVista Pharmaceuticals has had the pleasure of working with PNO Consultants on several UK grant applications during the last year and each time we have been extremely pleased with their performance. During our work together, the PNO team has demonstrated outstanding knowledge of the grants available to us as an SME and a thorough understanding of what is necessary to maximise the chance of success. What stands out about PNO are the dynamic personalities, particularly James Craven and Lyndsey Starr, and contagious determination to succeed. Through their tireless work and persistence they have been fully committed to our needs and have ensured timely processes without compromising quality. More impressively, PNO’s ability to understand complex scientific problems outside their area of expertise and put them into succinct and easy to understand terms is very impressive and an invaluable asset to any team looking to attract non-dilutive financing. They also possess integrity and honesty, which they maintain at all times and throughout all of their activities. Consequently, it has been a real pleasure to work with PNO, both as a professional team and on an individual basis, and I highly recommend them to any SME looking to enhance their chance of grant success.”

Successful Kalvista Innovate UK Smart Development of Prototype Award 2013

The development of a companion diagnostic to improve patient management and pharmacoeconomics in diabetic retinopathy Diabetes poses the most important threat to public health in the 21st Century. By 2025, it is estimated that 5 million people in the UK alone will have diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is the most frequent vascular complication of diabetes, when manifested as diabetic macular edema (DME), it is the leading cause of working age blindness, affecting 20-25% of all patients.

Once detected, effective treatment options are limited. Pharmacological therapies such as intravitreal (IVT) VEGF inhibitors are expensive and studies have shown that less than 50% of patients fully respond to this treatment. Plasma Kallikrein (PKal) is an enzyme recently shown to be strongly associated with the pathophysiology of DR and KalVista Pharmaceuticals are developing a novel IVT PKal inhibitor that will soon
enter clinical trials.

However, identifying patients with DR who will respond either to VEGF inhibitors or the emerging pharmacological treatment, PKal inhibitors, will be an enormous clinical challenge in the future. To address this, KalVista seek to develop an innovative companion diagnostic, building on recent studies that have investigated unique biomarkers in the aqueous humour of patients. By measuring and comparing levels of these with known response, KalVista believe that defining a unique proteome fingerprint is important in determining which patients are most likely to respond to a particular pharmacological treatment. This diagnostic will be used in the first instance for patient enrichment in clinical trials for KalVista’s PKal inhibitor, a drug which could become a breakthrough treatment for DR. The use of a companion diagnostic will help identify those patients who will benefit most from, or suffer fewer side effects from targeted therapies, and thereby present a more compelling approval and prescribing case to regulators and clinicians. Ultimately, this will then be used as a diagnostic to better direct future treatment, saving valuable resource whilst improving patient quality of life.


“I firmly believe that you need the best people possible in every field of business life…. We initially found PNO consultants through a search on Google and consider that we were very fortunate to have found a company who were exceptionally proficient. Throughout the whole process of the smart grant application we were skilfully guided, with their consultants displaying a tremendous ability to quickly understand a new industrial sector.

PNO consultants were invaluable in Karm Conductives Group being successfully awarded the Technology Strategy Board SMART proof of concept grant for our Hybrid Printing Cylinder Technology and will without doubt be utilising them in the near future.”– Mark Jones, Founder and Technical Director


Xstrahl is a leading designer and manufacturer of superficial orthovoltage medical X-ray systems used in the treatment of cancers and dermatological disorders, as well as a pioneer in the development of advanced X–ray systems for pre-clinical radiation biology research (Life Sciences).

Ian Wilson, Chief Operating Officer: “In less than one year with the aid of PNO Consultants, we have increased our R&D investment by the granting of two Smart Awards. The first award has been utilised to aid in the development Xstrahl’s prototype model X-ray therapy device. The second award is to enable Xstrahl to move into the new business area of medical imaging. With PNO Consultants we now have a strategic funding strategy, exploring all available avenues open to a SME in the healthcare and life science space. The team at every level are professional, proactive, focused and dedicated to achieve the demands of their clients. I look forward continuing our successful partnership with PNO Consultants.”

Successful Xstrahl Innovate UK Late-Stage Biomedical Catalyst Award 2014

Clinical Assessment of Compact Gamma Camera: An Advancement in Cancer Diagnostics

The project aims to address the recognised need for greater accuracy in Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy (SLNB), the standard procedure for evaluating and diagnosing a range of cancers – notably breast cancer and melanoma, through the development and clinical testing of a unique Compact Gamma Camera (CGC). The device will not only improve SLNB accuracy (to ~99.5%) but also improve rates of healing (by tissue sparing and nerve damage prevention): this advancement in imaging for cancer diagnosis will be provided at a cost of 60% less than current best in class gamma cameras. The CGC has the potential to deliver healthcare savings of ~£650 million per annum in the targeted EU and US markets. The project, led by Xstrahl (SME), will include clinical assessment of the CGC for SLN detection in both breast cancer and melanoma across two major centres where these cancers are treated and practice taught: University of Nottingham (UoN) and Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI).

Successful Xstrahl Innovate UK Smart Development of Prototype Award 2014

The Compact Gamma Camera (CGC) – An advancement in imaging for cancer diagnosis

Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy (SLNB) is a minimally invasive surgical technique which determines the likelihood of cancer spreading from a primary tumour and becoming metastatic throughout the lymphatic system. It is the most common procedure for evaluating and diagnosing breast cancer and melanoma which have both experienced a significant rise in incidence globally. The most common method of SLNB (~99% of all SLNB procedures) uses pre-operative gamma scintgraphy, injection of blue dye/radioactive substance (typically Tech 99) and detection of the SLN using a gamma probe. Despite its widespread use, there are a no. of recognised limitations: cost and inflexibility of gamma scintgraphy; probe signal masked by injection site activity; probes inaccurate when detecting lesions in deep seated nodes; and blue dye dissipates quickly causing issues with tracking node.

These limitations result in the SLN being located in just 92% of procedures and a high procedural false negative rate of up to 15%. False negatives lead to under-staging and under-treatment of individuals with node positive breast cancer, subsequently leading to higher rates of recurrence. Xstrahl’s market investigation has indicated that a significant need exists for an advanced gamma camera for use in SLNB with a particular emphasis on more accurate imaging techniques and miniaturisation of components. Xstrahl aim to address this need through the development of a high spatial resolution multi-modal imaging Compact Gamma camera (CGC), which will deliver the following benefits over current technologies: combined optical and gamma imaging to provide a 3D image; improved resolution (<1mm); a low cost design (sale price~£50,000). With considerable increases in cancer incidence projected as a result of an ageing demographic, and with the global cancer/tumour profiling mkt already a $13.30 billion industry, the development of the CGC represents a significant business opportunity, with market entry expected in Q3 2015.

Successful Xstrahl Innovate UK Smart Development of Prototype Award 2013

The NGX System – an Advancement in Precision Medicine for Radiotherapy of the Skin

Since Roentgen’s discovery in 1895, X-rays have been used for diagnosis and treatment. Today, approximately 50% of all the cancer patients undergo some form of radiotherapy. The use of radiotherapy is particularly effective for the treatment of skin cancer, the prevalence of which has increased dramatically over the past decade, with one in every three cancers now diagnosed as a skin cancer.

For the treatment of cancers at or close to the skin, Superficial X-Ray Therapy (SXT) and Orthovoltage Radiotherapy (DXT) are common treatment options utilizing low energy ionizing radiation to treat cancer. The shallow penetrating power of both SXT and DXT means that they often provide superior dose distributions compared to other techniques for the treatment of superficial lesions as well as the treatment of non -malignant skin conditions, an emerging treatment market that includes conditions such as keloids, plantar fasciitis and psoriasis.

With the number of new skin cancer cases diagnosed, globally projected to increase to more than 21 million by 2030, and with clinical demand for radiotherapy already outstripping supply, ensuring access to effective treatment is a key public health issue.

Xstrahl, an established supplier of X-ray therapy solutions, aim to address this market need through the development of new generation advanced lightweight, portable X-ray therapy system (NGX), capable of meeting the demands of the majority of oncological superficial therapy and benign condition treatment plans. NGX will allow for accurate, patient specific treatment through the integration of a unique in-beam dosimetry system that will measure dosage delivery on the skin itself with the capability to adjust exposure accordingly with a high level of safety and reduced treatment time. Its ergonomic design will allow for greater patient comfort with portable capabilities therefore allowing treatment outside of a hospital providing a high level of patient access.