Medical supplier of women’s healthcare products secures significant investment for growth

  • August 27, 2014

A specialist women’s healthcare start-up has secured a combined investment of £210,000 which will go towards driving its business growth in the rapidly expanding medical technology market.

Touchstone Medical secured £105,000 investment from SPARK Impact, managers of the North West Fund for Biomedical which was match funded by leading medical devices innovator CME Holdings Ltd. The three organisations were brought together by SPARK Impact as part of its drive to invest in and support forward thinking biomedical businesses in the North West.

Touchstone, based in Blackpool, sources, supplies and supports products from leading global manufacturers such as Carl Zeiss UK, Schmitz and GIMMI® with niche areas being colposcopy and gynaecology endoscopy. Products include the award winning medi-matic© gynaecology couch, high resolution HD endoscopic imaging systems and GIMMI® instruments for gynaecology surgeons.

Both Touchstone and CME Medical are united by a shared focus on niche markets and a philosophy derived from an insight into clinician’s needs and ultimately driven by improved patient experience and safety. CME Medical’s existing infrastructure will provide Touchstone with executive level expertise and administration support, as well as access to pre-established routes to market. The investment will allow Touchstone to further build its team which will build on the progress made to date.

The medical technology sector has, in recent years, taken over from biotechnology and pharmaceuticals as the fastest growing and most ground breaking area of medical science, providing a global landscape and long-term opportunities. The sector has grown by 10 per cent per annum over the last three years, with forecasted growth approaching £300bn by 2015.

Darren Neill, managing director of Touchstone which operates from Kincraig Business Park, said: “I am extremely pleased that we have successfully secured the funding needed to drive our business forward, which ultimately will improve the lives of patients and clinicians through our continued innovation in women’s health. We’re delighted to have been introduced to CME via Leonard Curtis in Manchester and look forward to working together to bring world leading products to the UK healthcare market and provide the highest possible standards in gynaecology endoscopy.”

David Grimm, investment manager at SPARK Impact, said: “From day one, we were impressed by Touchstone’s passion and drive to deliver innovative products and services in women’s healthcare. We’re delighted to be able to invest in this technology, which complements the growing and diverse mix of biomedical companies in our portfolio.”

John Carrington, managing director of CME said: “Improving patient experience has long been a key driver of our business. When we were introduced to Touchstone we were struck by the synergies between our businesses, particularly the patient-focused innovative solutions the team is able to deliver that also help improve efficiency within the healthcare sector. We found SPARK Impact to be a refreshing organisation to work with and were delighted by their proactive approach. Hill Dickinson, our legal advisors were also superb throughout the process.”

Forbes solicitors acted as legal advisors for Touchstone Medical with DWF providing legal support to SPARK Impact.

To date, SPARK Impact has invested more than £20m into 52 companies from all over the North West. Investments have ranged from new diagnostics and medical devices to clinical research and pharmaceuticals.

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. The fund is available to invest in small and medium sized businesses in the North West of England to support their start-up, development and growth.





Media contacts


SPARK Impact

Lou Clancy,

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 £30m 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. The fund has received over 250 applications and made over 50 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 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 individual fund managers. Each fund manager has a mandate to invest their allocation into the specific product or sector they manage, by 31st December 2015.


The fund managers are under contract with North West Business Finance Limited (NWBF), which is a private, not for profit company, established to oversee the delivery of The North West Fund.


Between December 2010 and June 2014, The North West Fund has invested over £97m in more than 285businesses. Further funding has also been earmarked to support these businesses as they grow and many more new investments are planned over 2014 and into 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.