MEIF - Proof of Concept

Why we invested: ImmuONE

Last year, Mercia Ventures spearheaded a £2 million investment into ImmuONE, the spin-out developing groundbreaking 3D human lung models that reduce reliance on animal testing.

Before a new drug, chemical or product is launched, assessing safety for humans is crucial. Historically, this often meant testing on animals. Not only does this pose ethical concerns, but evidence suggests that up to 90% of drugs deemed safe and effective in animals turn out not to work as planned in humans. With animal testing’s questionable accuracy, the hunt was on for more ethical and effective alternatives.

For the past 15 years, scientists around the world have been developing lab-based 3D models that are on par with, or even surpass, animal research in mimicking human physiology and architecture. Regulations are changing too. The UK banned the testing of cosmetics products on animals in 1998 and the US passed landmark federal legislation in 2022 eliminating mandatory animal testing for new drugs ahead of human trials. It’s an exciting time in the in-vitro toxicology testing market.

With their innovative approach to cultivating human lower lung tissue and immune cells in a laboratory, the pioneering team at ImmuONE are at the forefront of this industry. Their 3D models enable companies to test the impacts of their products on the small airways and lung inflammation, providing more reliable and reproducible results. From pharmaceuticals to agrichemicals and consumer products, ImmuONE enables multiple industries to move away from animal testing while simultaneously improving consumer safety.

In just two years, the dynamic founding duo of Abigail and Victoria have achieved impressive early traction. With a modest £90k of external investment, they’ve built a loyal customer base, including leading blue-chip chemical and consumer product companies. This success is just the tip of the iceberg. The in-vitro toxicology testing market is poised for significant growth over the next decade and we are honoured to be partnering with Abigail and Victoria at this exciting point in their journey. Our investment supports ImmuONE’s expansion into new sectors and their relocation to larger lab facilities to accommodate growing global demand.

The investment came from the MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund, managed by Mercia Ventures and part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), Mercia’s EIS funds and Pioneer Group.