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SPARK reaches £8.6 million funding mark for Merseyside biomedical SMEs

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 £1.5 million, 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 £250k from the Technology Strategy Board for product development, £100k from SPARK and £50k 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 burgeoninghealthcare 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.

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 £1 million 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% of the £25m North West Fund for Biomedical will be invested in Merseyside.

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