Mercia EIS Funds

Investment into molecular diagnostics company makes perfect Sense

Mercia Fund Management (Mercia) has underlined its commitment to pursue investment in the burgeoning diagnostics sector by investing early stage capital in Sense Biodetection Limited (Sense).

The investment will allow Sense to develop its initial product – point-of-care diagnostic tests within the infectious diseases market. Experienced angel investor and former CEO of the Bank of Ireland’s Financial Services Division, Jeff Warren, has also been appointed Chairman.

Mercia Fund Management, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mercia Technologies PLC, a national investment group focused on the creation, funding and scaling of innovative businesses from the UK regions with high growth potential, led a funding round totalling £500,000 alongside a group of business angel investors, including investors from Angels in MedCity and the Oxford Investment Opportunity Network (OION).

Sense’s diagnostic tool allows accurate and specific nucleic acid tests to be performed whenever and wherever they are needed. There is a growing demand for point-of-care diagnostic tools to provide convenience and accuracy, which could additionally result in the appropriate use of antivirals or antibiotics to reduce their overall use.

Rapid and accurate detection of the cause behind a potential infection is essential to ensure that appropriate treatment is administered in a timely fashion. Sense is currently developing point-of-care diagnostic technologies with the potential to be superior to existing, time-consuming and complex methods in a global market believed to be worth over $7bn per annum, according to a report by BCC Research.

Current methods also rely on sample handling, transportation and centralised testing, which run the risk of cross-contamination. Centralised testing also results in extended delays and, potentially, poor diagnosis.

Dr Harry Lamble, CEO of Sense Biodetection, said:

“We are delighted to receive the backing of such a strong syndicate of investors, particularly Mercia, one of the UK’s fastest growing technology investors. Their support will allow us to build upon the already strong foundations we have in place.”

Peter Dines, Investment Director and Head of Life Sciences & Bio-sciences at Mercia, said:

“We are pleased to support Dr Lamble and to work alongside the management team as they scale the business.

“Both the diagnostics and point-of-care sectors are predicted to grow and, as such, we believe that start-ups capable of meeting this head on present an exciting opportunity to investors.”