University of Birmingham spinout secures £800k for point of care diagnostics platform
Birmingham-based Linear Diagnostics Ltd has secured £800,000 from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF) and other investors in the company’s second round of funding, which will enable the company to commence the development of the hardware platform for its tests.
The finance will facilitate the ongoing development of the company’s high-speed platform technology for point of care diagnostics. The funding package includes backing from MEIF Equity Finance, managed by venture capital firm Midven, the University of Birmingham and the UKI2S Fund. The UK Future Fund matched the investment from the initial investors.
Linear Diagnostics was founded in 2011 by Professor Tim Dafforn and Dr Matt Hicks as a spinout from the University of Birmingham’s School of Biosciences. Its diagnostics technology is based on research in linear dichroism, patented by University of Birmingham Enterprise, which uses polarised light to detect the presence of molecules in solutions.
The company has shown strong technical progress since its first investment, achieving clinical levels of accuracy in tests within its lab environment. Initially focusing on sexually transmitted infections (STIs), Linear Diagnostics is developing a rapid test for chlamydia and gonorrhoea. The test will be capable of detecting multiple infections in the same sample in around 15 minutes by labelling each infection indicator with a different coloured dye.
The World Health Organization estimates that worldwide, more than one million STIs are acquired every day. As most STIs show no or mild symptoms, point of care diagnostics will enable healthcare professionals to provide efficient, on-the-spot treatment, which will help reduce onward transmission and lower the risk of antibiotic resistance.
Brendan Farrell, Chairman & CEO of Linear Diagnostics, said: “We are very grateful to our existing investors for their continued support and to the UK Future Fund for providing matched funding. The funds received will enable Linear Diagnostics to develop a prototype single use cartridge and reader for our duplex test for chlamydia and gonorrhoea.”
Roger Wood, Director at Midven, said: “The requirement for rapid and accurate point of care diagnostics has been brought into sharp focus by the COVID-19 pandemic. There are many other disease areas that could equally benefit from this approach and Linear Diagnostics is making excellent progress with the development of its testing platform. This funding round will enable the company to continue its good work at pace.”
Oliver Sexton, Director at UKI2S, said: “Linear Diagnostics’ platform will be able to identify the presence or absence of genetic biomarkers in under 20 minutes. Such rapid gene-based diagnosis is transformative for diseases and disorders that respond to extremely rapid intervention or require diagnosis outside access to centralised laboratory services”
Ken Cooper, Managing Director at the British Business Bank, said: “This latest investment shows how MEIF Equity Finance can be used for further rounds of funding by businesses at different stages of their growth journey. It’s an example of how MEIF and the Government’s Future Fund are helping to support the continued development of innovative businesses across the Midlands, which is also likely to have a significant public health impact.”
Tim Pile, Chair of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It is hugely exciting to hear that Linear Diagnostics Ltd has secured MEIF funding. Given the challenges presented by Covid-19, it is critical we do what we can to advance our regional offering in diagnostic technology. We welcome this investment which will ensure better outcomes for patients and opportunities for businesses. GBSLEP is committed to helping create opportunities in the health tech sector which we see as a priority growth area in the region.”
The Midlands Engine Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.
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CTO, Linear Diagnostics
Ann Haagensen, Digital Glue
0121 399 0065
About Linear Diagnostics
Founded in 2011 and currently headquartered in the BioHub Birmingham® at the University of Birmingham Enterprise’s Birmingham Research Park, Linear Diagnostics Limited exploits the phenomenon of linear dichroism for a number of uses, ranging from detection of antibiotic resistance infections, to testing for bacteria that cause rotting in food crops.
Linear Diagnostics explores a novel platform technology that can be used for assays in a wide range of sectors including food, agriculture, defence and security, veterinary, and medicine. It utilises linear dichroism which enables rapid detection of multiple targets using a disposable cartridge run on a small low-cost instrument. The platform technology has the potential to perform rapid, accurate and cost-effective diagnostic testing without the need for laboratory facilities.
For more than 25 years, leading Birmingham-based venture capital firm Midven has been supporting Midlands SMEs, investing more than £60m into the region and raising £200m co-investment into their portfolio. Midven’s 'more than money' approach helps to build strong and successful companies and support businesses every step of the way. Midven continues to extend its reach to invest in the Midlands’ most ambitious entrepreneurs through its recent appointment to manage the £35 million equity portion of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), as well as the launch of the firm’s first Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) fund. For more information about Midven, please visit www.midven.co.uk.
The Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF):
The Midlands Engine Investment Fund will invest in Debt Finance, Small Business Loans, Proof of Concept and Equity Finance funds, ranging from £25,000 to £2m, specifically to help small and medium sized businesses secure the funding they need for growth and development.
The Midlands Engine Investment Fund is operated by British Business Financial Services Limited, wholly owned by British Business Bank, the UK’s national economic development bank. Established in November 2014, its mission is to make finance markets for smaller businesses work more effectively, enabling those businesses to prosper, grow and build UK economic activity,
The Midlands Engine Investment Fund is supported by the European Regional Development Fund, the European Investment Bank, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and British Business Finance Limited, a British Business Bank group company.
The MEIF covers the following LEP areas: Black Country, Coventry & Warwickshire, Greater Birmingham & Solihull, Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, The Marches, and Worcestershire in the West Midlands; and Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham & Nottinghamshire (D2N2) Greater Lincolnshire, Leicester and Leicestershire, and South East Midlands in the East Midlands.
The project is receiving up to £78,550,000 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit www.gov.uk/european-growth-
The funds in which Midlands Engine Investment Fund invests are open to businesses with material operations, or planning to open material operations, in the West Midlands and East & South East Midlands.
The British Business Bank has published the Business Finance Guide (in partnership with the ICAEW, and a further 21 business and finance organisations). The guide, which impartially sets out the range finance options available to businesses and provides links to support available at a regional level, is available at www.thebusinessfinanceguide.
About the British Business Bank
The British Business Bank is the UK government’s economic development bank. Established in November 2014, its mission is to make finance markets for smaller businesses work more effectively, enabling those businesses to prosper, grow and build UK economic activity. Its remit is to design, deliver and efficiently manage UK-wide smaller business access to finance programmes for the UK government.
The British Business Bank programmes were supporting £8bn of finance to over 98,000 smaller businesses at the end of March 2020. Since March 2020, the British Business Bank has launched four new coronavirus business loan schemes, delivering tens of billions of pounds of finance to over a million businesses.
As well as increasing both supply and diversity of finance for UK smaller businesses through its programmes, the Bank works to raise awareness of the finance options available to smaller businesses:
The Business Finance Guide (published in partnership with the ICAEW and a further 21 business and finance organisations) impartially sets out the range of finance options available to businesses at all stages – from start-ups to SMEs and growing mid-sized companies. Businesses can take the interactive journey at www.thebusinessfinanceguide.
The new British Business Bank Finance Hub provides independent and impartial information to high-growth businesses about their finance options, featuring short films, expert guides, checklists and articles from finance providers to help make their application a success. The new site also features case studies and learnings from real businesses to guide businesses through the process of applying for growth finance.
As the holding company of the group operating under the trading name of British Business Bank, British Business Bank plc is wholly owned by HM Government and is not authorised or regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The British Business Bank operates under its own brand name through a number of subsidiaries, none of which are authorised and regulated by the FCA.
British Business Bank plc and its principal operating subsidiaries are not banking institutions and do not operate as such. A complete legal structure chart for British Business Bank plc and its subsidiaries can be found on the British Business Bank plc website.