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The North West Fund for Biomedical Invests in Drug Discovery Technology


9/24/2012 10:17:57 AM

September 24th, 2012 -- The North West Fund for Biomedical, the £25million fund managed by SPARK Impact, has invested £350,000 into a drug discovery company which could lower the cost of inventing new medicines.

Molplex Ltd has developed automated decision making systems using predictive chemistry and biology software which incorporate critical decisions made by drug development professionals during the early stages of drug discovery and design.

This process means that safer and better quality drugs could be developed at a fraction of the cost and faster than traditional research and development methodology.

The North West Fund for Biomedical is a sub-fund of The North West Fund, which is financed jointly by the European Regional Development Fund and the European Investment Bank.

The investment from SPARK Impact, managers of The North West Fund for Biomedical, means that Molplex will be able to establish proof of concept with their current platform and complete further updates to the software. It will also enable the company, currently based in Newcastle, to establish a base in the North West.

The funding will be used to progress ten early stage drug projects through laboratory synthesis and testing using Molplex’s automated systems.

David Leahy, CEO of Molplex said: “We would like to thank The North West Fund for Biomedical for supporting our transformation into the first of a new class of an ultra-effective drug discovery business.

“Molplex's novel approach to the automation of drug discovery decision making can radically lower the cost of inventing new medicines, while increasing the quality of the new drug candidates. This funding creates an opportunity for us to convert that promise into reality.”

Penny Attridge, senior investment director at SPARK Impact and fund manager for The North West Fund for Biomedical said: “We are really excited to be working with David and the team from Molplex and see a bright future for the company.”

Northstar Ventures originally invested in Molplex and Richard Exley from Northstar, echoed his support for further funding: “We are pleased to see the expansion of Molplex beyond its original North East base, whilst also growing its operations in the North East with the chief operating officer and co-founder, Vladimir Sykora remaining in the North East office.

“Molplex has potentially disruptive technologies for drug discovery which led to our original investment and the company is now well positioned to move forwards in the market."

Molplex is the 22nd investment for The North West Fund for Biomedical.

Melanie Yeomans, corporate finance partner at Ward Hadaway, led the firm’s team advising on the deal.

Melanie said: “We are delighted to have assisted SPARK Impact on this investment from The North West Fund.

“Molplex is involved in some truly ground-breaking work which has the potential to make a real difference to the development of vital new drugs and treatment.”

Media contacts

SPARK Impact

Louise Clancy, Louise.Clancy@sparkimpact.co.uk, 0151 705 3416

The North West Fund

Chris Hopper or Alison Ziobro @ MC2 – 0161 236 1352

The North West Fund for Biomedical and SPARK Impact:

The £25m North West Fund for Biomedical, which is managed by SPARK Impact, is part of the £185m evergreen fund provided by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), to supply debt and 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 100 applications and made six investments to date. For more information about the fund and how to apply please visit www.thenorthwestfund.co.uk

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 six fund managers under contract with North West Business Finance Limited (NWBF), which has been established to oversee the delivery of The North West Fund. £170m has been allocated to the six fund managers, as outlined below:

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 August 2012 The North West Fund has invested over £30m in more than 120 businesses. Further funding has also been earmarked to support these businesses as they grow and many more new investments are planned over 2012 and the three years ahead to 2015.

For further information please visit www.thenorthwestfund.co.uk

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. With €755 million to invest between 2007 and 2013, ERDF 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 www.communities.gov.uk/erdf.

EIB

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.

About Northstar Ventures

Northstar is a venture capital company dedicated to building successful high growth businesses across the North East of England. The £15m Finance for Business North East Proof of Concept Fund is one of the funds we manage and it is backed by the European Investment Bank and the European Regional Development Fund and forms part of the £125m Finance for Business North East Fund.

The North East Proof of Concept Fund supports the very early stages of business creation within the technology sector. The Fund’s investments are generally between £20k and £100k, but it has the ability to complete follow-on investments above this level. The Fund is targeted at eligible technology businesses located, or with substantial operations, in the North East of England. We are also seeking to invest in businesses that are willing to relocate to the region.

Northstar Ventures is a trading name of NorthStar Equity Investors Limited. NorthStar Equity Investors Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. NorthStar Equity Investors Limited is a limited company registered in England and Wales with company number 0510 4995. Registered office: 5th Floor, Maybrook House, 27-35 Grainger Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 5JE. Further information can be found at www.northstarventures.co.uk

About Finance for Business North East

Finance for Business North East is part of the Government’s Solutions for Business portfolio of publicly funded help to companies to start, grow and succeed. Solutions for Business makes it easier to get the advice and assistance they need. More information can be found at www.businesslink.gov.uk/solutions.


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