The winning team – called Parasites, Ponies and Plastic Chips – came first in the Dragons’ Den-style competition, which saw six teams pitch their idea of the perfect ‘Biological Tool’ to a panel of internationally-respected judges.

The winning team consisted of Demelza Kingston, Robert Coultous and Alexandra Raftery – all experienced veterinary surgeons with clinical and research expertise in equine infectious parasitic diseases – whose winning concept is the development of an easy and affordable diagnostic device, utilising existing technology, to test horses for the blood parasites of trypanosomiasis and piroplasmosis, which cast major welfare and economic constraints on the world’s equine population.

The proposed tool would be implemented on cheap disposable plastic chips which would provide rapid stable-side diagnosis without specialist equipment or storage. It would improve disease control, benefiting both equine and associated human welfare, and limit the economic impact in high value horses.

Speaking about their win, Robert Coultous said: “Working on the severe equine parasitic diseases of piroplasmosis and trypanosomiasis, we are more than familiar with the huge welfare and economic problems they cause globally. The current absence of a point-of-care diagnostic device makes rapid and accurate treatment in the field difficult. It was this dilemma that inspired our pitch for a cheap, low-tech microfluidics based device. The winning of the prize will go a great way towards producing a prototype with our collaborators, which we can then take on to field trials. We thank the CMVLS for organising the event, and the judges for giving us this outstanding opportunity.”

The competing six teams were selected from a pool of applications, with the theme of ‘Biological Tool’ left open to attract a diverse spectrum of ideas.

Professor George Baillie, who helped coordinate the event said, “The teams were coached by a cohort of university academics and by experts from BioCity Scotland to make the most of their five-minute pitch, and we saw a battle of epic proportions.

The competition is an excellent reflection of the talent we have within the college and the spirit of innovation that exists within the post-graduate research community.”

The runner-up team in the competition were CinChip Technologies, whose CinChip device offers rapid and precise diagnosis of specific bacteria in an attempt to offer personalised antibiotic treatment, rather than the use of broad spectrum antibiotics, to help reduce the incidence of antibiotic resistance.


Science Den was supported by Glasgow City of Science and Innovation.



CMVLS, University of Glasgow

BioCity Scotland