Direct Investments

Mercia invests in two pioneering businesses in the Life Sciences sector

Mercia Fund Management (MFM), a national fund management business with a focus on the Midlands, North and Scotland, has expanded its Life Sciences portfolio with investments into two university spin-outs. These include a Warwick-based business developing an innovative patch delivery system to enhance the efficacy of a variety of market ready drugs, and a Leicester-based highly disruptive biotech company with an innovation targeting improved efficiencies across key research areas.

Medherant Ltd, which was founded by Warwick Ventures Ltd, the University of Warwick’s technology commercialisation company, received a capital injection of £300,000, which will be used to enhance the development of its transdermal drug delivery systems.

MIP Diagnostic Ltd, MFM’s first investment into a spin-out from the University of Leicester, manufactures chemical substitutes for antibodies required for research purposes, and received £182,000.

Medherant has been developing a technology to provide market ready drugs, such as painkillers, anti-infectives or hormone therapies, in the form of comfortable and easy-to-use patches. The company’s capabilities have been enhanced through an exciting new deal that will permit Medherant to use Bostik’s patented heat and moisture curable press sensitive adhesive (PSA) in the field of transdermal drug delivery.

Medherant’s innovative patch technology promises faster released drugs in higher concentrations from a single layer patch that is more comfortable, durable and easier to remove. Importantly, the simplicity of the patch construction allows for the development of patches for drugs previously unsuited for this type of delivery.

Andrew Lee, Business Development Manager at Warwick Ventures Ltd, said:

“The hard work and commitment of the Medherant management team and the Mercia Fund has meant that we were able to get the company, set up, funded and ready to go in record time. We are all very optimistic about Medherant’s future!”

MIP Diagnostic Ltd, a spin-out from the Leicester Biotechnology Group, Department of Chemistry, has developed technology to provide Molecular Imprinted Polymers (MIPS) to the pharmaceutical, diagnostic and chemical research industries. Unlike their counterparts – antibodies, affirmers and aptamers – MIPS are not biologically derived, which means that they are more stable and also cost effective for the research industry, as they take a week to make rather than months.

MIPS are chemically formulated to mimic the lock and key mechanism of biological antibodies, affirmers and aptamers, but, unlike antibodies, which can only fit to a pre-designated lock, MIPS can be designed to fit to a potentially vast amount of locks, removing the potential for error and simplifying the research process. For this reason, they are increasingly being considered as an alternative to antibodies, affirmers and aptamers, and have the potential to compete in many similar markets on a global scale.

Dr Sharon Spencer, Director of Technology Commercialisation at the University of Leicester said:

“The investment by Mercia Fund Management into the MIP technology is testament to its potential as an innovative research tool. MIP Diagnostics Ltd has evolved from work initiated at Cranfield University and has been supported by funding from the Wellcome Trust. Our work with Mercia will enable the company to provide a range of custom-made MIPs and support the integration of MIPs into a new range of diagnostic applications.”

Commenting on the investments, Dr Nicola Broughton, who was recently appointed Investment Director of Technology Transfer, said:

“MFM is pleased to provide early stage investment to two Life Sciences business, both of which offer disruptive technologies with huge benefits to the sector.
“These investments also further strengthen our partnerships with the Universities of Warwick and Leicester. Mercia has an enviable pipeline of exciting technology and research from our strong ties to universities in the Midlands. North and Scotland, and we are excited to work alongside them as they start to build a commercially viable product from their research.”