Celebrating innovation & collaboration between Labskin and leading universities


One major benefit of being based at a science park like York Biotech Campus is being around like-minded people who work in similar fields. The campus is an environment where there are many opportunities to share best practice and ideas, and ultimately drive forwards innovation and research and development (R&D).

Our occupiers often collaborate with other businesses in their sectors, but another important piece of the puzzle is drawing on the knowledge and facilities that universities can offer. One occupier doing just this is Labskin, a leading skincare testing company that develops and grows an artificial human-like skin product.

Labskin work alongside several universities within the region and across the UK, including Sheffield Hallam University and the University of York. On its collaboration with universities, Dr Nicola Kingswell, Head of Laboratories at Labskin, said:

“The benefits of forging partnerships between universities and businesses in bioscience are very much two ways. Businesses often have a commercial focus and a route to market in terms of products, but the academic expertise, and in some cases, the facilities, that universities can supply, can provide outcomes that otherwise would not have come to fruition without a partnership.

“They are also extremely valuable in terms of nurturing future talent. For example, we can benefit from the knowledge of postgraduate students, whilst also providing the students with the opportunity to gain valuable sector experience through Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs). These are partly government funded programmes between businesses and universities, ranging from summer projects to one-year industry placements to research associate positions.

“Overall, through building relationships with universities, we’re all able to combine the latest insights in the academic field with what’s emerging in the commercial bioscience market, creating solutions to real-world problems at a pace and quality that wouldn’t be possible without this cooperation.”

We’ve rounded up some of Labskin’s latest university collaborations:

University of York

One of Labskin’s newest collaborations is with the University of York, where they are studying body odour using the Labskin model. This involves drawing on the university’s expertise to create a Labskin product that detects odour, before using the model to look at how products, such as deodorant, alter or control odour production.

Labskin has also been working with the University of York’s Technology Facility, which has essentially helped Labskin introduce a brand-new service. By partnering with the University of York, Labskin was able to produce reagents from Modern Water, which are used in the specialised monitoring of toxicity in water and soil. Labskin didn’t have the facilities to create this product on the scale they needed, so were able to take advantage of the bioreactors at the university.

Sheffield Hallam University

Labskin has a long-standing partnership with Sheffield Hallam, with the university supporting the company with endpoint analysis, giving Labskin access to equipment it does not have. Through this partnership, Labskin is able to draw on the university’s expertise in MALDI-MSI for imaging products on its artificial skin product. This essentially means it can test how a product reacts with skin, including how quickly a product enters someone’s blood stream.

This relationship with the university means that Labskin can include using this service as part of proposals to secure additional funding. And with some of the team living close to the university, they can easily drop off samples.

Labskin and Sheffield Hallam also successfully completed a KTP project to study the wound healing process.

University of Bradford

The Centre for Skin Sciences at the University of Bradford and Labskin also work on KTP projects together. They are currently carrying one out to develop the first commercially available human full thickness model to contain melanocytes, which will allow Labskin to be able to look at how products react to different ethnicities in skin, as well as having a more effective method of testing sun protection products.

Labskin has also carried out some preliminary clinical trials with the university, which has contributed to Labskin’s remote clinical trial offerings and its new microbiome test for consumers Skin Trust Club. These both involve volunteers or customers taking face swabs at home, before sending them back to the Labskin labs to be used in either the creation of the Labskin product, or in the analysis of skin types in relation to the customer Skin Trust Club.

University of Aberdeen

Outside of the Yorkshire region, Labskin works with the University of Aberdeen on a Covid-19 project that involves using Labskin to test the effectiveness of hand sanitiser and anti-viral products on skin.

Labskin needed access to a lab with the appropriate safety characteristics as well as to the Covid-19 virus (which needs a certain environment to be stored in) to complete this work and were able to take advantage of the university’s Class 3 containment facilities.

We’re very proud to be the home of Labskin, acting as its hub for collaboration with universities across the region and beyond, contributing to Yorkshire’s leading bioscience sector, both in terms of delivering world-class R&D, whilst also developing our scientists of the future. We’re excited to see what it does next! Watch this space…

You can find out more about Labskin and the work it does by visiting its website.