Boost for innovative North West healthcare technologies

  • August 7, 2015

SPARK-3 (2)

A North West life sciences investor has ploughed a further £1.6m into companies developing cutting edge healthcare technologies including those for combatting and diagnosing cancer and developing regenerative medicine opportunities.

The funding from the North West Fund for Biomedical, managed by SPARK Impact, has topped up five existing investee companies and takes the latest overall figure invested by the fund to more than £27.5m.

Amongst recent investments, Manchester-based Zilico Ltd has received a further £107,000, in addition to £1m already invested by SPARK Impact, which will fund the full commercial roll-out of its cervical cancer detection device, the Zedscan.

The device, which improves the accuracy and speed of cervical cancer detection, has already been adopted by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and will now be rolled out across other hospitals in the UK, Israel, Netherlands, Australia, Canada, France and Germany.

Meanwhile, Liverpool Science Park based Videregen, the developer of stem cell organ regenerative medicine, has secured follow on funding of £400,000 from the North West Fund for Biomedical. The funding will allow the business to extend the scope of its technology to transform a pig’s bowel so that it can be transplanted into a human.

Explaining this, Dr Steve Bloor, chief executive officer at Videregen, said: “We have found a way of removing all the living cells from an organ and ‘reseeding’ it with the patient’s cells, creating a bespoke organ which is specific for the patient. With the support of SPARK Impact, we are now working to develop this technology and bring it up to Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) regulations and to continue to develop stem cell harvesting and extensive testing for using these as replacement organs.”

A further £230,000 has been invested to allow Merseyside business CellCap Technologies to accelerate its development of blood tests to diagnose Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and similar diseases. Meanwhile, Liverpool-based Ostara Biomedical, an artificial fertility specialist company, has received a further £750,000. This will allow the business, which aims to reduce the number of animals used in research, to complete product development with a target product launch in early 2016.

Another Liverpool company to receive funding is Stuff of Life (trading as Secret Saviours) the developer of anti-stretch mark underwear for pregnant women. A £150,000 investment will be used by the company to further market the product in the UK before expanding into the EU.

Speaking about the latest instalment of investments, Dr Penny Attridge, investment director at SPARK Impact said: “The latest round of investments features a real variety of up and coming technologies which are all at various stages of product development and success. But what’s clear to see is that each is making a big impact in its respective field – targeting problems such as the shortage of organ donations and the need for more accurate diagnosis of cervical cancer.

“The quality of our portfolio companies continues to excel and we look forward to further boosting our existing companies which need the essential funding to help make their ideas a reality.”

The North West Fund for Biomedical is a sub-fund of The North West Fund, a substantial pot of money jointly financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the European Investment Bank and available to invest in small and medium sized businesses in the North West of England to support their start-up, development and growth.