Mercia invests in two pioneering businesses in the Life Sciences sector

Posted by ap507 at Jun 05, 2015 09:50 AM |
Investments in Leicester innovations

Mercia Fund Management (MFM), a national fund management business with a focus on the Midlands, North and Scotland, has expanded its Life Sciences portfolio with investments into two university spin-outs.  These include a Warwick-based business developing an innovative patch delivery system to enhance the efficacy of a variety of market ready drugs, and a Leicester-based highly disruptive biotech company with an innovation targeting improved efficiencies across key research areas.

Medherant Ltd, which was founded by Warwick Ventures Ltd, the University of Warwick’s technology commercialisation company, received a capital injection of £300,000, which will be used to enhance the development of its transdermal drug delivery systems.

MIP Diagnostic Ltd, MFM’s first investment into a spin-out from the University of Leicester, manufactures chemical substitutes for antibodies required for research purposes, and received £182,000.

Medherant has been developing a technology to provide market ready drugs, such as painkillers, anti-infectives or hormone therapies, in the form of comfortable and easy-to-use patches.  The company’s capabilities have been enhanced through an exciting new deal that will permit Medherant to use Bostik’s patented heat and moisture curable press sensitive adhesive (PSA) in the field of transdermal drug delivery.

Medherant’s innovative patch technology promises faster released drugs in higher concentrations from a single layer patch that is more comfortable, durable and easier to remove.  Importantly, the simplicity of the patch construction allows for the development of patches for drugs previously unsuited for this type of delivery.

Andrew Lee, Business Development Manager at Warwick Ventures Ltd, said:

“The hard work and commitment of the Medherant management team and the Mercia Fund has meant that we were able to get the company, set up, funded and ready to go in record time.  We are all very optimistic about Medherant’s future!”

MIP Diagnostic Ltd, a spin-out from the Leicester Biotechnology Group, Department of Chemistry, has developed technology to provide Molecular Imprinted Polymers (MIPS) to the pharmaceutical, diagnostic and chemical research industries.  Unlike their counterparts – antibodies, affirmers and aptamers – MIPS are not biologically derived, which means that they are more stable and also cost effective for the research industry, as they take a week to make rather than months.

MIPS are chemically formulated to mimic the lock and key mechanism of biological antibodies, affirmers and aptamers, but, unlike antibodies, which can only fit to a pre-designated lock, MIPS can be designed to fit to a potentially vast amount of locks, removing the potential for error and simplifying the research process.  For this reason, they are increasingly being considered as an alternative to antibodies, affirmers and aptamers, and have the potential to compete in many similar markets on a global scale.

Dr Sharon Spencer, Director of Technology Commercialisation at the University of Leicester said:

The investment by Mercia Fund Management into the MIP technology is testament to its potential as an innovative research tool.  MIP Diagnostics Ltd has evolved from work initiated at Cranfield University and has been supported by funding from the Wellcome Trust. Our work with Mercia will enable the company to provide a range of custom-made MIPs and support the integration of MIPs into a new range of diagnostic applications.”

Commenting on the investments, Dr Nicola Broughton, who was recently appointed Investment Director of Technology Transfer, said:

“MFM is pleased to provide early stage investment to two Life Sciences business, both of which offer disruptive technologies with huge benefits to the sector.

“These investments also further strengthen our partnerships with the Universities of Warwick and Leicester.  Mercia has an enviable pipeline of exciting technology and research from our strong ties to universities in the Midlands. North and Scotland, and we are excited to work alongside them as they start to build a commercially viable product from their research.”

ENDS

For further information please contact:

Nicole Laffan

Communications Manager

Mercia Fund Management Limited

t   +44 (0) 330 223 1430

m +44 (0) 790 340 4511

e   nicolel@merciafund.co.uk

Or please visit www.merciafund.co.uk

About Mercia Fund Management

Mercia Fund Management, a wholly owned subsidiary  of Mercia Technologies PLC, is a leading investor in UK technology; specialising in the commercialisation of businesses with high growth potential across a range of technology driven sectors in which deep expertise is held.

Mercia can provide early stage, development and growth capital to enable investment in a wide range of opportunities whilst being strategically positioned to allocate follow-on capital to stars in the portfolio.

As sector specialists, Mercia’s value is not only in the pre-investment discovery, analysis and selection of high growth opportunities, but critically in the support of those companies post-investment. Investment directors have been directly involved in the financing, building and management of companies in their respective sectors, and work extensively with the executive management team of each investee company in order to drive value creation, control risk and deliver profitable exits.

Mercia Fund Management is wholly owned by Mercia Technologies PLC (www.merciatechnologies.com), which listed on AIM in December raising £70m. Mercia Technologies is focused on providing later stage direct investment to the emerging stars from the EIS and SEIS portfolio within the Mercia Growth Fund series to expand and ultimately exit these businesses.

The combination of EIS and SEIS funds under management and direct investment gives Mercia a unique venture capital model which, through follow-on funding, has the ability to back high-growth technology businesses anywhere from an early stage, through their growth journey and ultimately to a profitable exit.

Mercia Fund Management is an FCA authorised and regulated fund manager under FSMA (FRN: 524856). www.merciafund.co.uk

About Medherant

Medherant is a bioadhesives company specialising in transdermal drug delivery founded by Professor David Haddleton and the University of Warwick to commercialise their world-leading expertise and know-how in bioadhesives, polymer chemistry and product development by exploiting polymeric hydro- and organo-gels in the medical field. Medherant is commercialising novel adhesive transdermal patch-based products and solutions that expand the library of drugs and significantly increase drug loading capabilities to provide improved patient experience, enhanced safety, increased efficacy and economic benefits to the healthcare system. www.medherant.co.uk

Leicester Biotechnology Group

Leicester Biotechnology Group (LBG) (originally Cranfield Biotechnology Centre) was established in 1981 at Cranfield University and moved to the University of Leicester in September 2013. LBG has a long track record of innovative work in the area of diagnostics and molecularly imprinted polymers and houses an inter-disciplinary team of chemists, engineers and biologists, all working together in a single state-of-the-art facility. This has come to harbour an environment rich in new research ideas that are applied to a wide variety of applications. Our worldwide reputation has been built up over 25 years, and maintained through links with numerous companies across the globe, engaged in the manufacture of diagnostic devices and polymers.

This enables us to provide a unique insight into the materials and biosensor fields, not only from an academic viewpoint, but also through hands-on commercial experience. As a result of many years of working with Industrial clients, LBG has adopted a flexible and comprehensive portfolio of activities to assist businesses from concept through to product. An increasing role of the Group is to provide advice and information, which are difficult to obtain from conventional sources. Research is currently undertaken in five core areas. These are:

1. Bioanalytical chemistry - design of sensors and assays for clinical diagnostics, environment and food

2. Functional (smart) materials, polymers and MIPs

3. Computational design and molecular modelling 

4.  Biotechnology and biopharmaceuticals

5.  Nanoparticles for diagnostics and therapeutic applications

The results of this research are described in more than 280 articles, books and patent applications which were published by the team.

The University of Leicester is a leading UK University committed to international excellence through the creation of world changing research and high quality, inspirational teaching. Ranked among the top one per-cent of universities in the world by the THE World University Rankings, the University is also committed to working with industry to generate business growth and find real applications for its leading research. www2.le.ac.uk/about/facts

About Bostik, an Arkema company

Bostik is a leading global adhesive specialist in industrial manufacturing, construction and consumer markets. For more than a century, we have been developing innovative adhesive solutions that are smarter and more adaptive to the forces that shape our daily lives. From cradle to grave, from home to office, Bostik’s smart adhesives can be found everywhere. With 2014 sales of €1.5 billion, the company employs 4,800 people and has a presence in more than 50 countries. www.bostik.co.uk

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