University partner

University of Nottingham

How was the deal introduced?

The deal was first brought to Mercia’s attention by Ian Wilding, who is an existing investor in Mercia’s EIS fund. Ian is the Chair of Locate.

What did the company plan to use the initial funds for?

The initial funding was used to continue critical development work on the core technology platforms. This has resulted in extremely interesting data which is gathering attention from across the industry, suggesting that the Locate technology platforms could prove to be revolutionary in the field of cell and gene therapy.

The funding was also used to conduct a thorough executive search, which resulted in the appointment of Nick Staples as CEO and further appointments have been made including the appointment of a finance director. The company has also been able to use the funds to lead a rebrand which has included the launch of a new website and all marcomms.

What progress has the company made since the first investment?

Following investment, the company has significantly strengthened the team and is now able to start conversations with the wider bio-pharma market regarding the potential applications of their core technologies in a range of therapeutic areas. The data produced following the funding round started from the bed-rock of a high-value IP generating businesses, with the potential to undertake lucrative licensing deals with third parties. Key achievements in IP development include producing more data on the IntraStemTM technology, such as a third-party validation by independent academic institutions who will shortly be publishing a peer-reviewed research paper demonstrating the clear technical advantage that Locate has over any other competitors.

The Mercia Effect

What have we been able to do for this company as a result of our involvement?

Mercia has supported the team by working actively with them to identify key hiring needs, including the profile of a new CEO. We have also supported the business in exploring the potential commercial applications of their technology through introductions to potential blue-chip partners. The overall impact has been to elevate the strategic direction of the business and empower the management team to start to build a globally unique and potentially extremely valuable IP-driven cell and gene therapy business.

“The transition from R&D to commercialisation for a life sciences business requires a funder with an eye for the commercial opportunity, a long term investment horizon and a desire to work with the business to achieve its goals – Mercia has proven to be an amazing partner on all fronts and we are looking forward to greater successes over the coming years as a result of their support.”Dr Ian Wilding, Locate Bio

How was the deal introduced?

Chris Yates, CEO, was invited to one of Mercia’s NED networking events hosted in Leeds. One of our Platform Team was aware that the company was looking for investment and facilitated an introduction to the Investment Manager.

What did the company plan to use the initial funds for?

The company is using Mercia’s investment to fund the operational development required to support the growth in its contract services business. The company has seen strong growth in contract development and expects to be able to transfer three new tests from an R&D phase to a commercialised, contract manufacturing phase during 2019. 

Funding will be used specifically to increase headcount in the operational team and to expand the company’s York production facility to allow fulfilment of these manufacturing contracts as well as bolstering the company’s sales function.

What progress has the company made since the first investment?

The company has secured an additional four rapid test development contracts in the first four months of 2019, including a sizeable contract with a large pharmaceutical company in the fast-growing area of personalised medicine and company diagnostics. The Company is expanding production operations at its site in York to service increasing manufacturing volumes. Mercia is also offering further operational support as the business continues to plan for the growth of its operations.

The Mercia Effect

What have we been able to do for this company as a result of our involvement?

Mercia’s Investment Director introduced a potential NED who is a well-known industry veteran, and the team are delighted to be securing his services.  In addition, Mercia introduced a new business development director with significant industry knowledge, enabling the company to resource for additional growth. 

“We found the Mercia investment process to be straightforward and succinct, with due diligence taking only a few months after we agreed terms. Post-deal Mercia has helped with useful introductions, including our new business development director and potential NED candidates.”Chris Yates, Abingdon Health

How was the deal introduced?

The original introduction came from Brian Hale of the Glasgow region of LINC, the investment angel industry body. After an initial session with Kenny Bain, an experienced NED helping to shape SnapDragon’s business plan, the team were introduced to Rachel Jones, CEO.

What did the company plan to use the initial funds for?

The initial investment was planned to automate the largely manual process of counterfeit detection and report production. Initial sales staff were recruited, and marketing materials created for launch at industry specific events and online promotion.

What progress has the company made since the first investment?

The product has been developed, and the board has been strengthened with Heleen Kist joining as a NED and Gordon Craig, co-founder of Craneware, being appointed Chairman. The company now has the capacity and software to operate with larger customers – to offer brand protection to businesses other than SMEs and has recently been appointed to work with ITV, the Harris Tweed Authority, Clug, and Orchard Toys. Additionally, the funding will provide resources for new marketing and sales hires to deliver growth.

The Mercia Effect

What have we been able to do for this company as a result of our involvement?

Having recognised Rachel as an outstanding sector expert with industry credibility, Mercia has supported the company in the transition from a managed service business to a product company. Rachel has grown her board as well as her commercial and technical teams.  

We have provided support at board level and guided the hiring of the head of product in Edinburgh. 

“Mercia has supported SnapDragon since the very beginning when we were a team of just four, delivering an almost entirely managed service but with significant expertise and experience in the sector, underpinned by huge ambition. It’s very much a partnership where sector expertise can be accessed, and advice sought on key hires, for example, rather than just the provision of capital.”Rachel Jones, SnapDragon