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Project Case Study: Fourth State in collaboration with the University of Surrey

Fourth State uses SPRINT to deliver space age technology to the healthcare sector

Fourth State is a young and innovative SME delivering new products to the healthcare sector using its proprietary atmospheric plasma technology.

With strong links and expertise from a number of Harley Street based clinics, their first product, Nebulaskin, has been developed to meet the highest standards for patient outcome.

A lasting relationship with University of Surrey

The Surrey-based SME company spun out from the University of Surrey in 2012 and since then, has worked with the University on various activities and projects including the Impact Acceleration Account in 2014, the Enterprise Fellowship award and an Innovation for Health Voucher in 2018.

Now, under the SPRINT programme, Fourth State is accessing space-enabled resources from the University of Surrey’s Surrey Space Centre to develop an innovative plasma-based solution for the UK and global healthcare sectors, based on its proprietary technology.

Addressing a national wound care challenge

Plasma is the fourth state of matter (solid, liquid, gas, plasma) and the Surrey Space Centre has significant expertise in the application of plasma in space propulsion systems. Plasma technology adapted for operation at atmospheric pressure can deliver improved non-surgical cosmetic treatments without the damage of conventional technologies, and kill drug-resistant bacteria while promoting the growth of healthy tissue.

Fourth State is working with the Surrey Space Centre to optimise its existing product for non-surgical cosmetic treatments and to develop a disruptive new solution for the treatment of wounds.

The NHS spent an estimated £5 billion on wound care in 2012/13 (comparable to spending on obesity and cancer) and costs are poised to skyrocket in coming years owing to an ageing population, increasing antimicrobial resistance and increasing prevalence of obesity and diabetes.

“Taking products to the next level”

Dr Tom Wantock, Research & Innovation Manager at Fourth State, says: “The SPRINT programme is a perfect fit for us. The company was founded on the idea of applying knowledge and skills developed in the UK space sector, in plasma physics and spacecraft systems engineering, to healthcare. It’s great to be working again with the Surrey Space Centre to take our products to the next level and accelerate the delivery of plasma’s benefits to patients and healthcare providers worldwide.”

Ian James, Innovation Advisor – SPRINT programme at the University of Surrey adds: “Fourth State have a particularly exciting proposition that can make a real difference to national and international healthcare providers and their patients. The expertise and facilities available at the University of Surrey are at the cutting edge of space technology and are enabling Fourth State to accelerate the development and deployment of their plasma-based solution.”

Plasma expertise at SSC

The plasma propulsion group at the Surrey Space Centre is developing novel solutions to address technological gaps in the worldwide propulsion portfolio. With expertise at the intersection between engineering and physics, the group is actively involved in several scientific and industrial development projects, in collaboration with companies and research institutions.

Dr Andrea Lucca Fabris, lecturer in Space Propulsion and responsible for the plasma technology research at SSC, states: “The research collaboration enabled by the SPRINT programme is a wonderful opportunity to exploit knowledge created in the space sector for developing new technologies aimed at improving the wellbeing of people. We are pleased to work with Fourth State, whose attitude towards innovation and vision for the future are inspirational for cutting-edge research.”


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