NOTE: Some of the technologies in this article have since been unpublished at the request of the academic institutes. For a more up-to-date look at the most in-demand opportunities on Connect, check out our Top 24 Innovations for 2024

To uncover the top innovations for 2023 set to have the biggest impact across science, engineering, and medicine, we’ve analysed the data from our academia-industry matchmaking platform, Connect, to find the most promising technical innovations in development at universities around the world that the R&D community are most interested in.

The innovations included in this year's list are those that received the highest levels of engagement in 2022 from R&D professionals at companies including Johnson & Johnson, Samsung, and Bayer using our platform to find new academic partners. The ranking factors in three metrics: the number of introduction requests to the academic teams behind each project, positive feedback from the companies reviewing them, and article reads.

Each of the features in our top innovations for 2023 has been published on our matchmaking platform by a technology transfer office in a university or academic institute with the aim of finding innovation-driven companies to collaborate with on further development, commercialisation and deployment.

A full non-confidential summary of each innovation can be viewed on Connect through the links below each summary. Access to the platform is completely free for companies (set up an account here) and there are no downstream fees associated with using it to connect with any of the 8,000 innovations showcased by the 250+ academic institutes subscribed.

IN-PART’s industry network is made up of R&D and external innovation teams in over 6,000 companies, all verified for access based on their ability to commercialise academic research. This includes 42/50 of the top R&D-spending firms globally, and all of the top 25 R&D-spending firms in Europe.

Biopharma & life sciences innovations

Enzymes that target biofilm-associated infections

Resistant bacterial wound infections are a global burden, complicating healing and increasing the cost of treatment. Texas Tech University System researchers have developed a combination of enzymes that dismantle the physical and chemical barriers a biofilm has to antibiotics, avoiding the need for debridement and allowing the more effective use of antibiotics.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this top innovations for 2023 feature.

A new approach to weight management for obesity and cachexia

Both obesity and cachexia can be debilitating and affect a significant portion of the global population. To address this, researchers at the University of Minnesota have developed peptides that antagonise the melanocortin receptors (MC3R and MC4R) and consequently can be used as drugs to manage appetite and weight.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this top innovations for 2023 feature.

Hitting the target with gene editing

CRISPR-Cas9 has become an essential tool for genetic engineering, but it still has limitations such as low target specificity. Researchers at DKFZ, the German Cancer Research Center, have discovered an approach that increases DNA editing specificy, by using anti-CRISPR proteins to fine-tune Cas9’s activity, thus opening the door for gene editing to be used in a wider range of applications such as research, medical diagnostics, therapies or agriculture.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this top innovations for 2023 feature.

Charge-free, biocompatible nanodiscs for vaccines, therapeutics and transfection

Research into lipid nanodiscs and their use for the extraction and study of membrane-bound proteins has revealed a potential use in vaccines, therapeutics and transfection. However, the presence of a charge on these synthetic polymers means that their application has been restricted. A research team at the University of Michigan have developed the first inulin-based charge-free polymers that have the ability to form biocompatible lipid nanodiscs with excellent stability against pH and divalent metal ions encountered in their environment.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this top innovations for 2023 feature.

A new antibody treatment for leukaemia and FLT3-expressing cancers

Researchers at the National Cancer Institute are providing hope for patients with leukaemia and other cancers that express or mutate FLT3 by their creation of human monoclonal antibodies and chimeric antigen receptors. This treatment has been proven effective in animals and could become a safer and less toxic treatment for FLT3-expressing cancers, particularly in pediatric patients with low treatment success rates.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this top innovations for 2023 feature.

A new approach to researching bone cancers

New cell line developments by researchers at the University of Calgary allow in-depth study of bone cancer cells. The cells can be easily grown in tissue-standard cell culture settings, and emit fluorescent light which allows them to be easily observed amongst other cells and tissues. This technology can facilitate the study of bone cancers as well as assist in the development of new treatments.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this top innovations for 2023 feature.

Simple and painless drug delivery through the skin

Researchers at the University of South Australia have developed a novel topical drug delivery system. Their innovation unlocks the painless delivery of small molecules, macromolecules, vaccines, or cosmeceuticals to large areas and can be incorporated into existing formulations at a low cost.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this top innovations for 2023 feature.

Material innovations

Making concrete from biomass

With cement production being responsible for ~8% of manmade global greenhouse gas emissions, there is a vital need for sustainable alternatives. Working towards this goal, researchers at Colorado State University have developed methods for utilising corn biomass to produce supplementary cementitious materials for greener infrastructure.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this top innovations for 2023 feature.

Bio-based heat-reflective coatings for buildings

Heat-reflective coatings are helpful tools to aid in the energy management of buildings. However, they incur expensive production and application costs. To make the coatings more accessible, researchers at the University of California, Irvine have developed energy-efficient coatings made from a naturally occurring, inexpensive biomolecule that meets the requirements of functional infrared coatings for buildings.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this top innovations for 2023 feature.

Producing aerogels in a safe and inexpensive way

Researchers at the University of Arizona have formulated a method of preparing low-density, porous aerogels without the use of supercritical temperatures and pressures usually required. These materials can be used as thermal insulation, desiccants or for waterproof coatings without the expensive and time-consuming production.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this top innovations for 2023 feature.

Safe and biobased resins made from natural products

Phenol formaldehyde resins are used in a wide range of products, from coatings and adhesives to laminates and plastics, but traditional manufacture of resins has associated environmental and health risks. To overcome these risks, scientists from Western University have devised a novel, one-pot approach to produce bio-based resins that can replace their traditional dangerous counterparts.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this top innovations for 2023 feature.

Recycling multilayer PET

Commonly used for food packaging, PET multilayer products include layers with different composition specifications that cannot be recycled easily or cost-effectively, generating tons of landfill waste per year. A methodology developed by researchers at the Universitat Politècnia de Valencia (UPV) and Technological Institute for Children’s Products and Leisure (AIJU) reincorporates waste multilayer PET into the production circuit creating a homogenous recycled product, which can be used for a range of applications.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this top innovations for 2023 feature.

A cool method of thin-film deposition

The growth of platinum films typically requires 2,500°C of heat using electron-beam physical vapour deposition. But in a recent advance, University of Minnesota researchers have demonstrated a new method operating under 100 °C, reducing costs and saving energy while increasing quality.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this top innovations for 2023 feature.

Physical and computational sciences

Cheap high-yield hydrogen

A hydrogen fuel economy could be a part of the solution to phase out the use of fossil fuels for powering homes, industry and transport. To support this, a new low-temperature approach to the hydrolysis of sodium borohydride, developed by scientists at the University of Kentucky, offers a cheap, high-yield route to hydrogen production with improved safety.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this top innovations for 2023 feature.

Hyperspectral imaging of moving objects in turbulent settings

Researchers represented by TLB GmbH (a technology transfer organisation covering a number of German universities) have developed two new methods for spatially-resolved single-shot Fourier transform spectroscopy. The methods can be used to obtain hyperspectral image information of moving objects or turbulent scenes in harsh environments. Applications are varied, including healthcare, analysis of environmental events such as volcanoes, food analysis, forensics, and thermal imaging.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this top innovations for 2023 feature.

Powerful alternatives to lithium-ion batteries

Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have been working on new components to improve all-solid-state batteries power output, energy volume, lifecycle and safety as alternatives to lithium-ion batteries. Specifically, the battery materials enable chemical stability, eliminate material cracking that can often be associated with battery cycling, and offer increase power output.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this top innovations for 2023 feature.

Faster non-contact 3D surface scanning

Another team of scientists represented by TLB GmbH have invented a method of non-contact surface inspection and 3D measurements that improving significantly on those currently in use. Their invention enables area scanning by combining chromatic confocal microscopy with a novel procedure for 2D surface scans, producing a 3D scan hundreds of times faster than conventional methods.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this top innovations for 2023 feature.

A customised wearable system for bespoke physical rehab

The amount of procedures to treat lower extremity injuries such as hip and knee replacements is expected to rise from 1-million to over 3-million within the next decade. Researchers at Case Western Reserve University have developed a wearable gait measuring sensor, customisable for each patient, that aims to mitigate costs against this rise. Their innovation provides a constant stream of remotely viewable data which can be used to provide a better analysis of patients' recovery and ultimately provide a better outcome for rehabilitation.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this top innovations for 2023 feature.

Agriculture and food

Bigger seeds, more product

As the global population of humans increases and the demand for food with it, there is a crucial need to effectively use the finite land available for food production. With this goal in mind, researchers at Saint Louis University have controlled gene expression and epigenetic pathways to increase the size of seeds in order to increase crop produciont using the same amount of space.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this top innovations for 2023 feature.

Kinder pesticides

The use of pesticides have huge disadvantages to plants and the environment, from low specificity to high toxicity and a risk of creating pesticide resistances. To address these issues, researchers at the Max Planck Society have developed compounds that target the growth of pathogens by inhibiting the aggregation of amyloid-like proteins that contribute to extracellular, adhesion and other pathogenicity-related infection structures.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this top innovations for 2023 feature.

Treating yellowing leaves and increasing growth

Using iron transporters (siderophores) as bio fertiliser for agricultural crops has been identified as the most effective way to address iron deficiency-induced chlorosis, a common plant disease, as well as increase plant growth and protect plants from pathogens. To advance this approach, researchers represented by Hub APTA (Andes Pacific Technology Access) have designed a highly efficient, low-cost method to produce siderophores by using a novel strain of Pseudomonas.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this top innovations for 2023 feature.

Sustainability innovations

Turning waste into aromas

Low value agricultural biomass, lignin, is often burned to produce energy however, there is potential to use lignin in the development of renewable fuels and speciality chemicals. University of Kansas researchers are onto a sweet idea with their lignin depolymerization method, allowing high-value products such as vanillin to be isolated from agricultural waste.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this top innovations for 2023 feature.

High-efficiency blades to get electric flights taking off

Utilising rotary wings and electric propulsion, eVTOLs (electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles) are at the forefront of research attempting to make the aviation industry more sustainable. On this flightpath, researchers at the University of Glasgow have developed and validated a ready-to-use computational design tool, offering aerospace and wind energy companies accurate methods to enhance efficiency of propellers, rotors and wind turbine blades without sacrificing acoustics, structural dynamics, or safety.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this top innovations for 2023 feature.