Investment in Biomedical SMEs in Merseyside hits milestone

  • March 17, 2014

Merseyside companies have received a collective £8.6m in funding since the launch of The North West Fund for Biomedical, managed by SPARK Impact, three years ago.

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.

Altogether 23 Merseyside SMEs have received a share of the funding to help them develop innovative biomedical products such as pharmaceuticals, medical devices and diagnostics.

Last week around 30 leaders from the European Commission’s cross border ‘FIN-EN’ project visited Liverpool Science Park-based SPARK Impact to hear how the funding has benefitted a number of biomedical companies.

Project leaders heard how many of the businesses are now thriving thanks to the funding, which varied between £50,000 and £1.5m, with one about to launch a product in the United States and another offering an application that supports the efficient delivery of patient care.

ASep Healthcare, developers of an award winning disposable tourniquet, is on track to reach £1m in revenue this year. Artificial fertility specialist company Ostara Biomedical has won £250,000 from the Technology Strategy Board for product development, £100,000 from SPARK and £50,000 from an angel investor.

Rob Connell is the founder and chief technical officer of Med ePad and developed the idea of using mobile tablet technology based on his own experience working in IT for the NHS. Acutely aware of burgeoning healthcare costs, Mr Connell was looking for a solution to keep people healthy, manage diseases and lower healthcare costs.

Mr Connell worked to develop a unique, cost-effective and interactive healthcare service via a set of apps accessible on a touch screen mobile internet device. The aim was to improve the efficiency of treatment and empower patients to better manage their self-care.

Med ePad has now developed the Med eTrax Nursing Observation application which is focused on hospital ward observations and alerting, and is designed to enable community (home) based patients to record vital signs and alert staff to changes in their condition remotely. Speaking about this, Rob Connell said: “Without a doubt, the company would not be where it is today without the funding from SPARK Impact and we’re glad they saw the potential and believed in Med ePad.

“It’s not only the investment but the access to individuals and skill sets which has opened so many doors for us. It has been a challenging process setting up a company but we hope to have a successful future ahead and make a difference to managing healthcare at home.”

Albert Medical Devices, based at Liverpool Science Park, developed ‘Melio’, the world’s first intelligent catheter leg bag, complete with electronic urine level sensor, discreet patient warning system and mini pump.

The company has now raised around £1m in funding, a mixture of SPARK Impact and other angel investment and is set to launch the product in the United States.

Chief executive officer of Albert Medical Devices, Matt Pearce said: “Without the money and strategic intervention from SPARK Impact we would have not got so far in such a short space of time. The advice and guidance given by the team has meant our strategy is focused and our plans are well managed as we now head into an exciting phase of growth and we look to hit the US market.”

Dr Penny Attridge, investment director at SPARK Impact said: “These success stories show that Merseyside is certainly alive with budding biomedical innovators. We work closely with many of these companies from the very initial stages and see the real passion that lies behind these ideas which have the potential to disrupt the way we deliver healthcare in this country, and indeed overseas.

“To see the companies thrive and succeed on the marketplace is extremely encouraging. Without the gap funding that The North West Fund for Biomedical provides, many of these businesses would fail in the early stages. Continued investment of this type will be key to sustaining the future growth of the life sciences sector in the Liverpool City Region and wider North West.”

At least 40 per cent of the £25m North West Fund for Biomedical will be invested in Merseyside.





Media contacts

SPARK Impact

Belinda Armstrong,

0151 705 3416


The North West Fund

Lizzie Dibble, , 01925 443 767


Notes to editors

The North West Fund for Biomedical and SPARK Impact

The £25m North West Fund for Biomedical, managed by SPARK Impact, is a sub-fund of The North West Fund, which is provided by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), to supply equity funding to small and medium sized enterprises in the North West of England.

The North West Fund for Biomedical, which was launched in February 2011, is accessible to a broad range of companies including those developing pharmaceuticals, new diagnostics and medical devices, and those working in the fields of clinical research, contract manufacturing and analytical services. It is open to companies based in, or prepared to relocate to, the North West of England, with 40% of the fund to be invested on Merseyside. It is expected that the fund will invest in over 50 businesses. It has already received over 200 applications and made over 30 investments to date. For more information about the fund and how to apply please visit


The North West Fund

The North West Fund is a substantial evergreen investment fund established to provide debt and equity funding (from £50,000 to £2 million) to small and medium sized enterprises based in, or relocating to, the North West of England. The North West Fund addresses an identified gap in the lending, venture capital and private equity markets. It is one of the largest public sector funds of its kind in Europe and the largest in the UK.

The North West Fund is financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) under the European Commission’s Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises Initiative – otherwise known as the JEREMIE programme.

The North West Fund is the umbrella name for the six funds that are available to businesses in the form of debt, equity and quasi-equity. These funds are managed by five fund managers under contract with North West Business Finance Limited (NWBF), which has been established to oversee the delivery of The North West Fund. Initially, £150m has been allocated to the fund managers, as outlined below, with a further £5m to be allocated in due course:

Fund manager Name of fund Fund committed
Enterprise Ventures Ltd Mezzanine £15m
FW Capital Ltd Loans Plus £45m
Enterprise Ventures Ltd Venture Capital £30m
Spark Impact Ltd Biomedical £25m
CT Investment Partners LLP Energy & Environmental £20m
AXM Venture Capital Ltd Digital & Creative £15m
Funding to be allocated in due course £5m
Total £155m

Each fund manager has a mandate to invest their allocation into the specific product or sector they manage, until 31st December 2015. NWBF is a private, not for profit company, established to oversee the delivery of The North West Fund.

Between December 2010 and February 2014 The North West Fund has invested over £80m in 250 businesses. Further funding has also been earmarked to support these businesses as they grow and many more new investments are planned over 2014 and 2015.

For further information please visit


European structure, JEREMIE

The JEREMIE initiative offers EU Member States, through their national or regional Managing Authorities, the opportunity to use part of their European Union (EU) Structural Funds to finance small and medium-sized enterprises by means of equity, loans or guarantees, through a revolving umbrella fund. The initiative was developed by the European Commission and the European Investment Fund, which is part of the European Investment Bank Group.

JEREMIE provides for a range of debt and equity financial tools to obtain the most appropriate allocation of funds according to national, regional or local requirements.


ERDF in the Northwest

ERDF is making a real difference to people and businesses in the North West. The current ERDF programme, which is worth €755 million is, enhancing the competitiveness of the region’s economy by supporting growth in enterprise and employment.

ERDF in the North West is managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government – for further information visit



The EIB is the European Union’s long-term financing institution and, provides long-term finance for capital projects promoting European economic objectives. The EIB made its first loan in the UK in 1973 and since then has lent around €75bn for investment in the UK economy. In the years from 2004 to 2009, the EIB financed investment in the UK totalling some € 23.5bn – GBP 17.5 billion.