Life Sciences direct investment, Locate Bio Limited (“Locate”), has received an additional £2.0million of investment. Locate, which is based in Nottingham, one of Mercia’s target investment regions, has received £1.8million of direct investment from Mercia, with the balance coming from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund, which the Group manages on behalf of the British Business Bank. Mercia’s direct equity stake is now 21.6%.

Locate is a gene and cell therapy company developing a pipeline of next generation medicines which utilise its proprietary technologies for non-viral gene therapy and cell therapy. The company is currently expanding the application of its technologies (IntraStem™ and TAOS®) into new therapy areas, beyond musculoskeletal, to provide further in-house development and partnering opportunities.

Nick Staples, CEO of Locate Bio Limited, said: “Locate is in an exciting phase of growth and these new funds will allow us to further develop our non-viral gene therapy technology IntraStem™while continuing to utilise our TAOS® platform for cell delivery and other applications. These next generation technologies overcome current industry challenges in the fast-growing gene and cell therapy fields, providing a major business opportunity for Locate.”

Peter Dines, Chief Operating Officer and Head of Life Sciences & Biosciences of Mercia Technologies PLC, said: “Locate has continued to make important progress in developing its TAOS® and Intrastem™ technologies. These proprietary technologies have the potential to address multi-billion pound markets in the exciting and fast-growing areas of gene and cell therapy. We look forward to continuing to support Nick and the Locate team move this cutting-edge technology forwards.”

We are pleased to note that our AIM listed direct investment Concepta PLC (“Concepta”) has today announced important news regarding the first pregnancies from early adopters of myLotus®, its home fertility testing and pregnancy tracking device. The confirmation of first pregnancies is validation that the women’s fertility monitor, myLotus®, is able to successfully enhance fertility, by helping women to personally monitor their hormone cycles and ovulation profiles to find their most fertile days to conceive naturally.

Launched in November 2018, Concepta’s myLotus® has already made significant commercial progress securing a commercial partnership with Walgreens Boots Alliance in March 2019, launching an eCommerce website and listing myLotus® on Amazon. Concepta continues to seek out further collaborative opportunities with large diagnostic and retail pharmacy groups, in addition to hospital and IVF fertility clinics to advance myLotus® success.

Mercia holds a 22.4% direct equity stake in Concepta, having worked with the company via its managed funds before making its first balance sheet investment in May 2016.

Peter Dines, Chief Operating Officer at Mercia and a non-executive director of Concepta, said: “These first pregnancies and strong testimonials from myLotus® users are hugely exciting. Concepta has made significant commercial progress since launching six months ago and we look forward to further collaborative partnerships increasing the availability of myLotus® across the UK and overseas.”

A Nottingham company which has developed a new platform to help pharmaceutical firms manage clinical trials more effectively has raised almost £1m from investors to help it launch its product worldwide.

PHARMASEAL International secured investment from the MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund, which is managed by Mercia Fund Managers and part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund. Mercia also contributed its own capital from its EIS Funds alongside angel investors.

This new investment marks the second investment round for the company, which raised £500,000 from Mercia and angel investors in January 2018.

PHARMASEAL’s software, Engility™ CTMS (clinical trials management system), is a next-generation platform that allows pharmaceutical companies greater control over clinical trials and improved governance. The firm is to use the latest finance injection to enhance the platform with additional features, while also stepping up its international sales and marketing activities.

Engility is the first of a series of products which PHARMASEAL plans to develop for the pharma and medical device industry. Established in 2016, the firm is led by industry veterans Daljit Cheema, the CEO, and Neil Rotherham, the Chairman. As part of the deal, Ian Jennings, another senior pharma IT executive, will join the board as a non-executive director.

Daljit Cheema, CEO of PHARMASEAL said:
“PHARMASEAL aims to give customers increased control over their clinical trials and product development. This second round of investment demonstrates the confidence that investors have in our product and will enable us to scale up our commercial operations.”

Ashish Patel of Mercia Fund Managers, said:
“Gaining regulatory approval for new medicines or medical devices is extremely difficult, especially for smaller firms. PHARMASEAL’s platform is accessible for companies of all sizes and should help them to bring products to market more quickly and at lower cost. Engility has already generated significant attention within the industry. This funding round will help the team to build on the initial interest and generate global sales.”

M&R provided legal advice to Mercia on the investment. The Midlands Engine 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.

For more information about Mercia’s EIS Funds visit our EIS Funds page.

A Glasgow spin-out which is pioneering a new test to detect brain cancer has secured a £1.2m investment in a syndicated round including Mercia Fund Managers using its EIS Funds, the Scottish Investment Bank’s Co-Investment Fund and EOS Technology Partners.

ClinSpec Diagnostics’s revolutionary blood test can provide accurate results in just ten minutes and could potentially improve brain cancer survival rates through earlier detection. The technology, which uses infra-red light and incorporates machine learning, is based on the world-leading research of Dr Matthew J. Baker at the University of Strathclyde.

The investment is in addition to funding secured from an Innovate UK grant and Scottish Edge Higgs Award, bringing the total to over £1.6million. It will allow the company to create seven jobs, further develop its brain cancer test and start work on a new test for prostate and pancreatic cancer.

Established in 2016, ClinSpec is now led by CEO Dr Mark Hegarty. The company has already demonstrated the potential of the brain cancer test through a clinical study at Edinburgh’s Western Infirmary. The technology also has much wider applications beyond medicine and can be used to improve testing in the food, drug and oil industries.

Nicola Broughton, Investment Director and Head of Universities at Mercia, said: “I’m delighted to have completed this first investment into a Strathclyde University spin-out, alongside the Precision Medicine Investment Accelerator through Innovate UK. This investment shows our commitment to investing in world-class research from the region and follows Mercia’s recent expansion in Scotland and the appointment of Investment Director Marcus Henderson who I worked with on this transaction.”

Kerry Sharp, Head of the Scottish Investment Bank, added: “This investment builds on the wider support that we provided through our High Growth Spinout Programme to aid the formation of the company. We’re excited about partnering with Mercia Fund Managers, EOS and University of Strathclyde to drive the next stage of the company’s development.”

Andrew McNeill, Partner at EOS Advisory, said: “EOS is delighted to have led this investment into ClinSpec alongside our partners at Mercia and the Scottish Investment Bank. What is really exciting about ClinSpec is that their diagnostic technology has the potential to address a wide range of diseases, backed up by a strong IP portfolio.”

Olga Kozlova, Director of Innovation and Industry Engagement said: “The University of Strathclyde is delighted with the progress that ClinSpec has achieved over the last few years Commercialisation of the University’s technology is a key priority for the university and with the launch of Glasgow City Innovation District earlier this year we are committed to growing this area of activity.”

For more information about Mercia’s EIS Funds visit our EIS Funds page.

A County Durham business which has developed a better and safer X-ray technology has secured a further £1m of funding to help it develop a new product for use in detecting breast cancer.

It is the second funding round in six months for IBEX Innovations and comes from existing investors IP Group plc and the North East Venture Fund (NEVF), supported by the European Regional Development Fund and managed by Mercia Fund Managers.

The latest investment, which brings the total raised by the company to over £5m, will create eight new jobs. It will help the company to commercialise its existing technology and to develop new hardware for use in mammography tests, following its recent success in winning a £700,000 grant from Innovate UK for the project.

IBEX’s systems fit to existing X-ray machines and can improve the quality of images while reducing the dose of radiation which the patient receives. The technology has been proven in tests with major multinational X-ray companies and in trials at Newcastle‑upon‑Tyne Hospitals and South Tees NHS Trusts.

Neil Loxley, the company’s CEO, said:2019 is set to be an exciting year for IBEX as we move from the research and development phase to the full commercialisation of our Trueview medical imaging product. We are grateful for the continued support of IP Group and the North East Venture Fund in the latest funding round. We expect that patients will begin to see the benefits of the improved X-ray image quality delivered by Trueview as early as 2020.”

Ian Wilson, who leads Mercia’s team in the North East, added: “IBEX’s technology is ideal for mammography tests as fatty deposits in the body can compromise the image quality of X-rays. The new investment will allow it to develop a new mammography application, and support the wider commercialisation of Trueview to secure adoption by major medical imaging companies.”

Jason Hobbs, CEO of the North East Fund, said: “Ibex is a great example of an organisation with huge potential, and one that the North East Fund is very pleased to support. The technologies which they are developing will benefit many people and the investment secured will now enable the company to drive forward growth, create new jobs and achieve continued success here in the region.”

The NEVF can invest up to £1.0million for firms in Northumberland, Durham and Tyne & Wear, particularly those which are engaged in innovation or developing disruptive business models. Funding is available to all companies with high growth potential and also pre-start enterprises.

A Tees Valley business which has developed a multi-award winning chemicals technology has secured an £860,000 investment, which includes £750,000 from NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance, which is managed by Mercia Fund Managers and is part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund. The additional investment is from UK Steel Enterprise (UKSE).

Micropore Technologies’ innovation allows manufacturers to create more stable emulsions and, in many cases, eliminate waste. It has wide-ranging applications in sectors from pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals to personal care and household products, inks and agrochemicals, food and drink and even rocket fuel. The novel membrane technology can create droplets of exactly the right size and disperse them evenly within emulsions at any scale from initial laboratory investigation to full-scale, multi-tonne manufacturing.

It can be used to make low-fat and reduced sugar confectionery by dispersing water-based ingredients in fatty foods like chocolate, to create particles for the controlled release of cancer drugs, or to deliver nutrients whilst masking unpleasant tastes.

Established as a spin-out of Loughborough University, Micropore is now based in Redcar with a US sales office in Raleigh, North Carolina. Following a period of successful product development, the company is now attracting orders from customers worldwide. The investment will allow it to expand its local manufacturing facility and its business development team. The latest funding round brings the total raised by the company to around £1.5m.

Dai Hayward, CEO of Micropore, said: “After years of patient technology and product development Micropore has proved its products and markets and is ready for rapid growth. New investment from NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance, together with continuing investment by UKSE provide the vehicle to achieve those global growth ambitions.”

Simon Crabtree, Investment Manager at Mercia, said: “We think Micropore’s technology is a fine example of British engineering and that it provides an effective and scaleable solution for its target customers. This funding will allow the company to expand its reach into new geographical areas and new market sectors.”

Sarah Thorpe, Area Manager for UK Steel Enterprise, the business-support subsidiary of Tata Steel, said: “We are pleased to be continuing our support for Micropore Technologies with a third investment. Micropore is an innovative company with a highly experienced management team and, since our first investment in 2016, we have seen the company successfully take its leading-edge technology from laboratory to full scale manufacture.”

Ben Houchen, Tees Valley Mayor, said: “The Tees Valley is a centre of excellence for the UK chemical industry with 60 percent of the chemicals produced in the UK made or processed here in Teesside. Micropore Technologies’ breakthrough is testament to the ingenuity and innovative thinking that you find in so many businesses in our region.

“In the last 18 months NPIF has invested over £8million in 27 companies based in the Tees Valley, supporting their growth and expansion and the creation of good quality, well paid jobs for local people.

“The investment secured by Dai and his team is well deserved and I look forward to seeing the company go from strength to strength.”

Mark Wilcockson, Senior Manager at British Business Bank, said: “We are pleased that NPIF continues to support high-growth businesses in the Tees Valley, providing vital funding to enable job creation and expansion into new markets. This investment demonstrates how this funding can make a real and measurable difference to businesses across the Northern Powerhouse region, which helps create a more prosperous regional economy.”

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.

Mercia Technologies PLC (AIM: MERC), the national investment group focused on the identification, creation, funding and scaling of innovative technology businesses with high growth potential from the UK regions, is pleased to note that AIM listed portfolio company Concepta Plc (“Concepta”) has today announced a commercial partnership with Walgreens Boots Alliance for the supply of its revolutionary women’s fertility and hormone testing product, myLotus®; an important milestone for the company as it forms part of the myLotus® roll-out plan across Europe.

Mercia holds a 18.2% direct equity stake in Concepta, having worked with the company via its managed funds before making its first balance sheet investment in May 2016.

Peter Dines, Chief Operating Officer at Mercia and a non-executive director of Concepta, said: “Securing a partnership with such a leading retailer as Walgreens Boots Alliance is validation that Concepta has developed a product with significant commercial appeal. This new partnership will play a pivotal role in myLotus® being more widely available across the UK and overseas.”

Portfolio company, Oxford Genetics Limited (“Oxford Genetics”), has successfully negotiated six licensing deals for its scalable gene therapy manufacturing technologies in the last twelve months.

Oxford Genetics operates in the synthetic biology sector providing world leading technologies and advanced techniques for drug and gene therapy development. Grown from the foundations of patented DNA engineering methods, the company now offers a suite of novel solutions for gene therapy drug discovery, antibody therapy development and CRISPR gene editing.

The past year has seen Oxford Genetics achieve significant market traction, working extensively with high profile, global businesses within the biotechnology industry. The projects being undertaken have strengthened the portfolio of solutions and licensable technologies in the key areas of drug and gene therapy development services. You can read the full RNS REACH here.

Invizius has been named as one of 2018’s Fierce 15 med tech companies, designating it as one of the most promising private companies in the industry.

Invizius has developed H-GuardTM, a biotechnology product that acts as an “invisibility cloak”, hiding life-saving medical devices from patients’ immune systems. The company’s first application targets the blood filter used in kidney dialysis, promising to meet a massive and desperate unmet need among almost three million patients with kidney failure. The company spun out of ground-breaking research at the University of Edinburgh into how deadly bacteria manage to hide from the human immune system. H-GuardTM replicates bacteria’s behaviour and is being developed into a suite of products that integrate with existing treatments, preventing the deadly complications that result when medical devices are rejected.

During dialysis, the patient’s immune system sees the dialysis machine as an unwelcome foreign body, and attacks it, creating inflammatory processes that end up damaging the patient’s own cardiovascular system. Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death for dialysis patients, and life expectancy on dialysis is slashed by two-thirds compared to that of the general population.

H-Guard is also being developed to help millions of patients in critical care, or who undergo open heart surgery, who suffer from complications after being hooked up to heart and lung machines.

Invizius announced £500,000 of investment from Mercia Fund Managers and its Mercia EIS Funds in May 2018, shortly after the company was formed with the help of Edinburgh Innovations, the University of Edinburgh’s commercialisation service.

Richard Boyd, CEO of Invizius, said: “The team at Invizius is absolutely delighted that our innovation and global ambition are receiving international recognition as one of the Fierce 15, and this adds to the momentum the business is building. We are excited and motivated by the potential of H-Guard to address decades-long shortcomings in the treatment of millions of patients worldwide.”

The full list of this year’s Fierce 15 winners can be viewed at: https://www.fiercebiotech.com/special-report/fiercemedtech-s-2018-fierce-15.

For more information about Mercia’s EIS Funds visit the EIS Funds section of our site.

Mercia’s Portfolio company, Sarissa Biomedical, has been featured in the Daily Mail.

  • Test acts as a sensor for strokes and could save lives with quicker diagnoses
  • Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in the UK with 100,000 a year
  • Most cases are ischaemic strokes caused by blood clots blocking the brain

Read more here.