A University of Sheffield academic who has developed a device that could revolutionise biological research has secured a £150,000 loan to help fulfil the first two orders.
Dr Tim Craggs has raised funding from NPIF – Mercia Debt Finance, which is managed by Mercia and is part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF). Dr Craggs is an expert in single molecule spectroscopy, which focuses on studying the behaviour of an individual molecule rather than thousands in a bulk sample.
The technique can provide deeper insights into biological processes, replacing the existing technology which is complex and costly. Dr Craggs’ EI-FLEX device is a relatively low-cost benchtop instrument that incorporates advanced software and will make single-molecule spectroscopy accessible to a much wider range of researchers and scientists.
He established the company, Exciting Instruments, in August 2021 to commercialise the device. The funding will enable it to fulfil its first two orders – from the University of Massachusetts and Arizona State University – and make further sales worldwide.
Dr Craggs said: “Single molecule spectroscopy is a powerful technique that could lead to new discoveries in biophysics, life sciences, drug development and diagnostics. We set out to democratise this cutting-edge approach, and bring it to the widest possible user base. Ultimately we hope to make our instrument a standard tool in every biophysics lab.”
Pete Sorsby of Mercia said: “Dr Craggs’ device represents a big leap forward in biological research. Scientific products of this type can take many years to bring to market and begin to make commercial sales. The fact that the company has won two orders within its first year demonstrates its potential and the strong global demand. The funding will enable the company to take the first steps on its commercial journey.”
Grant Peggie at British Business Bank, said: “NPIF has a proven track record of supporting early stage innovative businesses across the North with over 36% of the portfolio receiving support from Innovate UK or UKRI. We are pleased that investment from NPIF is supporting Dr Craggs to spin out the business from the University of Sheffield and bring his invention to market and secure exports to Universities in the USA. Having access to investment plays a major role for companies looking to grow, and Exciting Instruments is a great example of how effective investment is supporting innovation, growth and exports. ”
Exciting Instruments is a joint venture with Bulldozer Limited, which provides digital, commercial and financial support. Robert Bell, CEO of Bulldozer, has joined the Board of Exciting Instruments. Chris Sellars of Hentons Corporate Finance supported Exciting Instruments in raising the funds.
The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.