Medherant, which joined Mercia Technologies’ portfolio of direct investments in September 2016, has been selected for its versatile and easy to use, solvent-free transdermal drug delivery platform, the TEPI Patch®, which is based upon a novel poly(ether-urethane)/silicone pressure sensitive adhesive that allows a wider range of drugs to be delivered across the skin. The Company has also created a novel high-throughput analytical system to facilitate the rapid development of its own and third party TEPI Patches.

Nigel Davis, CEO of Medherant, commented, “We are delighted to have been shortlisted for this prestigious competition. Recognition of our technology from the RSC is further evidence of the innovative nature of our TEPI Patch® technology and the progress we’ve made towards developing a product that will be easier for patients to use.”

Shortlisted entrants will pitch their ideas to a panel of experts in front of a live audience at the RSC’s annual flagship event for industry, Chemistry Means Business. This event will be held in Manchester, UK on the 13th and 14th June 2017, where a winner will be selected. Dr Gabit Nurumbetov, a senior scientist at Medherant, will also be presenting the TEPI Patch technology at this event.

Dr Nicola Broughton, Head of Universities at Mercia Technologies PLC, which invested in Medherant last year said: “It’s fantastic to see Medherant’s innovative TEPI Patch® technology recognised in the RSC competition. It offers huge potential benefits for patients in need of an alternative way of receiving their medication. Mercia is pleased to support the Medherant team as it continues to grow and scale its business.”

Mercia Technologies PLC has completed a £500,000 investment into Oxford Genetics, a synthetic biology company with significant expertise in DNA design. This investment follows the £1.0million of additional capital which was provided by Mercia in October 2016 in order to expand the company’s management team, board, patent portfolio and commercialisation strategy.

Oxford Genetics joined Mercia’s ‘Emerging Stars’ portfolio of direct investments in December 2015 having first received investment from the Group’s managed funds in 2013, as one of the founding investors. The company has now received a total of £5.8million in grants and investment. Mercia currently has a direct equity stake of 47.9%. This latest investment will be used to expand Oxford Genetics’ reach into the US market and further drive sales growth alongside its recent access to CRISPR technology, whilst continuing to support its promising Research and Development at its state-of-the art facilities on the Oxford Science Park.

To read the full RNS announcement, click here.

Leading early-stage technology investor Mercia Fund Management, has committed £500,000 of seed funding to Milkalyser, an innovative technology that predicts the fertility of cows.

In response to the decline of fertility in dairy cows worldwide, Milkalyser Limited has developed an automated fertility management system for dairy farmers. The innovative new technology directly measures the fertility hormone, progesterone, in cow’s milk and provides analytical data to predict ovulation and optimal timing for insemination.

This early-stage investment from Mercia will be used to continue developing the product so it can be brought to the commercial market. The long-term vision for the company is to build a data driven platform that allows farmers worldwide to maximise the yields from their livestock.

Managing Director Professor Toby Mottram, the inventor of the Milkalyser platform, completed an Enterprise Fellowship funded by BBSRC with the Royal Society of Edinburgh to build the business model and proof of concept, and has been involved in commercialising animal technologies for over 15 years.

Toby has a PHD in robotic milking and is also the founder of eCow Devon LTD, a company which provides rumen pH telemetry systems to farmers and scientists worldwide.

Professor Toby Mottram, MD and founder of Milkalyser, said:

“We are delighted to have Mercia as an early stage investor, this will allow us to build the Milkalyser business and technology which we know has huge global potential.”

Dr Ashish Patel, Investment Manager at Mercia Fund Management, said:

“We believe this is an excellent opportunity to invest in a potentially industrial-scale solution to a significant commercial problem in livestock agriculture.

“We are pleased to be working with Toby, who is globally recognised as an innovator in farming technology and possesses a combination of deep technical expertise in animal technologies with a commercial outlook.”

The developers of a communication platform that offers secure digital access to healthcare services have received £200,000 of seed funding in a deal led by Mercia Fund Management and involving the NHS-backed West Midlands Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) fund.

The platform is designed to improve patient engagement and make it easier for clinicians to measure patient outcomes outside of a healthcare setting.

For patients, the service will enable them to spot patterns in their behaviour that affect their health, communicate with their clinician and empower them to practice self-care so they can take responsibility for their health and wellbeing.

Health Centrified will use the early-stage investment to support the development, evaluation and commercialisation of its software platform. As well as working with UK organisations, the Birmingham-based company is also looking to build relationships with US healthcare providers.

Experienced entrepreneur and CEO of Health Centrified Syed Abrar previously co-founded the multi-award winning mental health solution, Buddy App. Syed has built extensive client relationships across a number of sectors including telecoms, recruitment and finance.

Syed Abrar, CEO of Health Centrified, said:

“Because the best treatment is partially dependent upon timely and reliable information from patients, we are looking for ways to improve on the collection of that information. We are confident that by opening a communication channel between patients and providers using this platform, we can increase compliance for treatment plans and get a much higher level of data input from patients outside of regular visits. We also believe this could be a two-way channel, where providers can push information out to patients as well. Having better engaged patients, we expect to see higher health outcomes.

“We welcome the financial strength of working with Mercia Fund Management and the opportunity the WM AHSN offers – with access to health professionals and test beds within the NHS, to aid development of the solution.”

Dr Ashish Patel, Investment Manager at Mercia Fund Management, said:

“We believe this is a great opportunity to invest in a potentially high-value solution to a significant health and commercial problem. In the UK, around £700million is thought to be lost through missed NHS appointments alone. Healthcare IT solutions for care providers is a particular area of interest for Mercia and we are delighted to support Syed and his team as they continue to grow.”

Mercia Fund Management is delighted to announce that it has been invited to partner with Innovate UK’s £8.5million Investment Accelerator initiative, a pilot programme which provides simultaneous grant funding and venture capital.

Investment is targeted at innovative early stage companies which operate in infrastructure or health and life sciences. Mercia will join six other organisations which will provide private sector investment alongside grants injecting up to £150,000 into successfully selected companies.

Mercia will consider applications from companies that support infrastructure systems, as well as the health and life sciences sector from which it already has an expansive portfolio, including AIM listed Concepta PLC, Oxford Genetics and The Native Antigen Company.

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

“I am delighted that Mercia has been invited as a partner for this programme. Innovate UK has very clear aims in the delivery of this project and we believe that Mercia is well positioned to help fund and scale innovative applications into commercial opportunities. We look forward to reviewing new opportunities as they arise and working alongside Innovate and other partners.”

The programme will bring private investors into Innovate UK grant-funded companies earlier, giving companies greater confidence that investment will continue after the project funding.

A briefing for interested applicants will take place on Monday 15th May. The registration deadline is 28th June and the final application deadline is 5th July 2017. Further details can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/funding-competition-investment-accelerator-pilot

Medherant, a University of Warwick spinout that joined Mercia Technologies’ portfolio of direct investments in September 2016, has strengthened its board further with the appointment of pharmaceutical expert Ken Cunningham as chair.

Ken has been instrumental in bringing innovative pharmaceutical research to market. He is currently non-executive director of Sunergos Innovations Ltd and Verona Pharma plc, and the former chair of Abzena plc. He brings with him over 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry and joins Medherant as the company prepares to take its TEPI Patch technology into clinical studies.

Ken Cunningham commented, “I am delighted to join Medherant as Chairman as the team progresses the company’s TEPI Patch® technology into clinical development. Medherant’s novel transdermal drug delivery patch technology offers significant benefits to patients and the potential to generate value for Medherant’s shareholders. I look forward to contributing to the success of the company.”

Dr Mark Payton, CEO of Mercia Technologies PLC, said: “Mercia has previously worked with Ken when he chaired PolyTherics, and after it acquired Mercia’s portfolio company Warwick Effects Polymers, and took the business onto AIM as Abzena plc. We are delighted that he has taken up this post. Ken has over two decades of experience in this sector and his appointment reflects the enormous potential offered by the TEPI patch initially developed by Bostik, an important partner.”

This appointment follows a syndicated £1.5million fundraising round in September 2016, of which Mercia contributed £650,000. The funding allowed Medherant to advance pre-clinical studies of its TEPI Patch, which is initially being developed for use with the pain relief drugs Ibuprofen and methyl salicylate.

As one of Mercia’s key sectors, life sciences offers a range of opportunities for investment, particularly outside of the South East. Medherant, now an “emerging star” in Mercia’s direct investment portfolio, was identified as a strong investment by Mercia’s Head of Universities, Dr Nicola Broughton, due to the innovation of its patch design and its strong team of life science professionals. The technology was validated further after Medherant secured a key industry partner to assist in the manufacture of its patch in 2015.

The TEPI Patch is designed to address problems with existing patches on the market, by giving a higher, more controlled dose directly to the area where it is needed over a period of as long as 24 hours. It has a strong fit with certain novel drugs that themselves are often unsuitable for oral administration.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and PsiOxus Therapeutics today announced an agreement granting Bristol-Myers Squibb exclusive worldwide rights to NG-348, a pre-clinical stage, “armed” oncolytic virus with the goal of addressing solid tumours. The agreement is subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act.

Oncolytic virus therapy uses modified viruses like the adenovirus (otherwise known as the common cold virus) that selectively replicate within tumour cells and not within normal tissue. Such viruses stimulate an inflammatory response in the tumour microenvironment, resulting in the accumulation of tumour infiltrating lymphocytes. The NG-348 virus uses PsiOxus’s proprietary Tumour-specific Immunogene Therapy (T-SIGn) platform to “arm the virus with two additional immuno-therapeutic transgenes.

“PsiOxus has developed a novel platform of tumour-targeted delivery with oncolytic viruses focused on cancer and shares our passion for helping more patients respond to treatment,” said Fouad Namouni MD, head of development, Oncology, Bristol-Myers Squibb. “We are excited to bring our deep expertise in Immuno-Oncology to the continued development of NG-348 and to better understand the potential role of oncolytic viruses in enhancing checkpoint blockade in multiple types of cancer in the tumour microenvironment.”

“NG-348 represents the first of our T-SIGn armed viruses,” stated John Beadle, MD, Chief Executive Officer, PsiOxus. “We are thrilled to partner once again with Bristol-Myers Squibb, a leader in Immuno-oncology, to drive this program into clinical development with the aim of providing a potential treatment to cancer patients.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Bristol-Myers Squibb will grant PsiOxus a $50.0million upfront payment and will be solely responsible for global clinical development and commercialisation activities related to NG-348. PsiOxus is also eligible to receive up to $886.0million in development, regulatory and sales-based milestones, as well as royalties on net sales. Bristol-Myers Squibb will also be responsible for providing PsiOxus funding to support activities related to the preclinical development of NG-348.

This agreement follows a June 2016 agreement between the two companies where Bristol-Myers Squibb and PsiOxus entered into an exclusive clinical collaboration to study enadenotucirev, PsiOxus’s systematically administered “unarmed” oncolytic adenovirus therapeutic.

To find out more about NG-348, visit PsiOxus’s website.

Mercia has appointed a new Advisory Board, formed of four industry leaders, to shape its investment strategy in the Life sciences and Bio-sciences sector. It is the third sector-specific advisory board that Mercia has created this year.

The new board’s members – Mary Anne Cordeiro, David Ebsworth, Frank Collins and Jim Reid – will work with Mercia’s investment team to provide a market-wide view on topical issues in order to guide Mercia’s investment strategy, as well as the growth strategy of its life sciences portfolio. They will also play an instrumental role in helping to appoint key members of management for Mercia’s portfolio using their extensive personal networks.

Mercia’s investment strategy in this sector is led by Peter Dines, the former Managing Director of Surgicraft and Founder and CEO of Surgi C Group. It is focused on Medtech devices, diagnostics and digital healthcare solutions, whilst avoiding areas that are particularly capital intensive. Mercia’s strategy has a specific interest in deal flow from the Midlands, the North of England and Scotland.

Mary Anne Cordeiro has worked as an adviser and merchant banker to companies in the healthcare sector since 2000, with a focus on businesses in diagnosis, drug delivery, orthopaedics, therapeutic devices and precision medicine. In 2014 she was named by BioBeat as one of 50 experienced leaders in UK Life Sciences.

David Ebsworth is a healthcare executive, board member and consultant with experience in speciality pharma, large pharma, biotech, genetics, over-the-counter (OTC), and pharmaceutical wholesale, retail and services. He has held over 11 board-level positions in businesses spanning the UK, Europe, the US, Australia and Japan, and has been involved in a number of high-value IPOs and trade sales.

Frank Collins is a senior executive and company chairman with a portfolio of non-executive roles including: chairman of The Frontier Medical Group, a manufacturer of pressure area care, infection control and harm-reduction products and; chairman of JRI Orthopaedics Limited, which designs, develops and manufactures orthopaedic implants and surgical instruments.

Jim Reid has worked in the life sciences sector for the past 40 years, holding senior roles in Axis-Shield PLC, Chiron S.A, Roche and Trinity Biotech. He also founded and manages a specialist life sciences investment fund, ChimaeraBio, which has made a number of successful early stage life sciences investments.

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

“Mercia believes that external Advisory Boards assist us in making the best possible decisions for our investors and shareholders, which is why we have now set up three sector-specific boards to guide strategy and provide industry insight.

“Mary Anne, David, Frank and Jim have all built impressive careers spanning venture capital and life sciences. This experience, accompanied by their own networks of industry connections, will be of significant value to Mercia’s portfolio of companies as they help to open up commercial opportunities which would otherwise take years to uncover.”

Mercia Technologies PLC has seven companies in its Life Sciences & Bio-sciences portfolio. Recent investments include: Medherant, an IP-rich University of Warwick spinout developing novel transdermal drug delivery patches, and; Concepta PLC, a women’s health diagnostics company with an initial focus on unexplained fertility.

An award-winning University of St Andrews spinout company has received a major funding boost to take on the healthcare market.

MOFgen, which is pioneering cutting-edge technology for coating medical devices, has received investment totalling £300,000 from Mercia Fund Management and the Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise. The investment will allow MOFgen to further the commercialisation of its products, which have the potential to reduce Healthcare Acquired Infections (HAIs), prevent procedural complications and improve healing rates.

This seed investment comes on the heels of MOFgen winning first prize in this year’s Royal Society of Chemistry Emerging Technologies Competition and marks the culmination of intensive technical and commercial development by the St Andrews-based team.

MOFgen was formed to commercialise research conducted in the laboratories of Professor Russell Morris at the University’s School of Chemistry into the development of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) for biomedical applications. MOFs are powdery solids with microscopic pores that can be loaded with antibacterial, wound-healing and anti-thrombotic agents such as antibiotics, bioactive gases and metal ions.

Acting like reservoirs, they can be incorporated into coatings on medical devices and wound dressings to provide a slow and controlled release of the active agents during the lifetime of the product. As well as improving the quality of patient care, reducing infection rates and reducing the burden on NHS resources caused by lengthy and repeated hospitalisation, their novel and multifunctional mode of action is expected to help in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria and provide alternatives where patient intolerances to current coatings exist.

MOFgen is preparing a library of products that can be adapted for and used by its customers to enhance the performance of their own product lines. The technology has already been validated by key industry partners and will now begin to penetrate its first target markets: medical devices and consumer healthcare.

Professor Russel Morris, Chief Scientific Officer at MOFgen Ltd, said:

“We are delighted to secure this investment as we really believe that our technology will make a significant and positive difference to those people who suffer from chronic wounds and secondary infections.”

Professor Verity Brown, Vice Principal Enterprise and Engagement at the University of St Andrews, said:

“The team’s world-leading research into MOFs has been supported by funding from the University, Scottish Enterprise, The Royal Society and the European Research Council. We are thrilled that investors have recognised the commercial potential of the spinout company MOFgen.”

The MOFgen funding is the second co-investment undertaken by Mercia and the Scottish Investment Bank. http://www.merciafund.co.uk/news/spinout-set-to-revolutionise-digital-forensics-worldwide-following-new-funding/

Paul Devlin, Investment Manager for Scotland at Mercia, said:

“MOFgen is another example of the high quality research and technology that Scottish universities are developing. The MOF technology has already won several awards, secured grant funding and received interest from commercial partners in the medical devices industry.

“The investment supplied by Mercia and the Scottish Investment Bank will help the new business to continue validating its technology and build commercial traction in its initial target markets.”

Kerry Sharp, Head of the Scottish Investment Bank said:

“Mercia Fund Management has long recognised the significant potential of Scotland’s research base, and last year specifically located in Edinburgh to take advantage of the investment opportunities coming out of Scotland’s technology sector.

“This investment, into a hugely exciting, award-winning medical technology company, shows that this was a worthwhile move for Mercia, and the funding will allow MOFgen to continue its research, fulfil its growth ambitions and ultimately reduce Healthcare Acquired Infections.”

Innovation Birmingham Campus-based digital health business Kaido has secured a £50,000 investment from the SME Innovation Fund to market test, refine and deliver its connected health platform.

Kaido helps people to get more from their health applications, wearable devices and smartphones by using smart technology alongside access to world-leading expertise. It is one of 24 start-ups currently on Innovation Birmingham’s Serendip Smart City Incubator, and won the funding after a competitive application and interview process.

The SME Innovation Fund is a joint initiative set up by Mercia Fund Management and the West Midlands Academic Health Science Network (WMAHSN), to help build and support healthcare start-ups across the West Midlands.

The WMAHSN brings together investment and expertise from across the health science community. In collaborating with Mercia, it provides repayable grants of up to £50,000 for ten new innovations each year. These innovations must have the potential to: deliver a high impact for society; grow the reputation of healthcare delivery within the West Midlands, both in the UK and abroad; and support the spread and adoption of patient-focused innovation across the region.

Richard Westman, Founder of Kaido, said:

“The SME Innovation Fund has come at a really important time for Kaido as we look to grow the team and accelerate development. It was critical that our world-leading sports science expertise was matched by the same level of technology infrastructure to deliver on our vision. Working alongside renowned artificial intelligence developer Jeremy Walker, as well as his team, demonstrates this commitment. I am looking forward to learning from the teams at Mercia and WMAHSN over the coming months and I am excited by the potential opportunities this unique collaboration may bring in the future.”

Peter Dines, Head of Life Sciences & Bio-Sciences at Mercia, said:

“The WMAHSN SME Innovation Fund is designed to support early stage innovative companies based in the West Midlands. We are impressed by the Kaido team led by Richard Westman and their collective vision to exploit what is a very interesting innovation in a fast moving sector that is continuing to grow.”

Dr Christopher Parker CBE, Managing Director at WMAHSN, said:

“We are delighted that Kaido has been successful in securing investment from the SME Innovation Fund. We are already supporting Kaido with their presence in the Digital Health Quarter of the Serendip Smart City Incubator, with which we are a major partner. The fund is a further sign of our commitment to SMEs in the West Midlands’s life sciences sector, helping to create wealth in the local economy through industry collaboration and attracting inward investment, as well as delivering improvements in healthcare by aiding the spread of innovative diagnostics, devices and services at scale and pace.”

For additional information on Kaido, visit www.kaidogroup.com.