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NIHR showcases medtech successes to investors


Investors gathered in London to hear from researchers and medtech companies funded by NIHR Invention for Innovation (i4i), as the programme celebrated its 10th anniversary.

i4i funds the development of disruptive early-stage medical technologies, to accelerate the translation of innovations into the NHS and the wider healthcare market.

During the past decade, the NIHR has invested more than £120 million and funded 174 projects through i4i. This has enabled more than 60% of funded projects to gather clinical evidence, in studies involving more than 22,550 participants.

The i4i showcase event highlighted some of the most promising projects funded by the programme, to raise interest from the investment community and encourage early engagement with innovators.

i4i aims to de-risk promising technologies, making them attractive to follow-on funding and private investment. During the past 10 years, companies in the i4i portfolio have leveraged more than £94 million of equity investment. Two of them have launched on the stock market, raising a combined value in excess of £190 million.

The programme has a particular focus on supporting technologies developed by small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs), to boost productivity and UK plc growth. To date, i4i has supported more than 760 collaborations between SMEs, NHS Trusts and universities and created an average of 3.6 jobs per project.

Director of the i4i programme Martin Hunt said: “One of the ways we’re supporting the SME sector is by putting companies in front of investors who can provide follow-on funding after their i4i award. This event is the beginning of a new ongoing dialogue with investors where we’ll seek their support in bringing promising new technologies that the i4i programme has de-risked closer to market and patient benefit.”

Companies presenting on the day included MediSieve, an SME developing a magnetic blood filtration device for removing pathogens associated with blood-borne diseases. Dr Cristina Blanco Andujar, chief technology officer at MediSieve, said: “This event has given us profile with investors and helped us get our message out across this crucial network, making MediSieve more visible to a wider audience.”

The other companies presenting at the event were:

  • Sense Biodetection, which is developing an instrument-free point-of-care molecular test for respiratory diseases
  • Vivoplex, a company developing a uterine sensor to transform fertility treatment
  • CORTIRIO, which is pioneering the development of portable scanners for rapid diagnosis and monitoring of traumatic brain injuries
  • NEPeSMO®, an organisation developing self-monitoring solutions to predict and prevent lung attacks in patients with chronic respiratory conditions
  • OrganOx, a company developing normothermic machine perfusion technology to improve how donor organs are preserved for transplantation.

The event closed with presentations from the heads of OXSIGHT and Creo Medical, two exemplar success stories the NIHR has contributed to.

OXSIGHT have built and brought to the market portable augmented vision “smart glasses” to boost functional sight for people who are blind or partially sighted.

Creo Medical have produced Speedboat, the first advanced energy instrument for flexible endoscopy. Following funding from i4i, the company has grown from three employees to a team of over 65. Creo listed on the London Stock Exchange in December 2016, raising £20 million. The company raised a further £48.5 million in August 2018 to fully commercialise its products.

Craig Gulliford, Chief Executive Officer of Creo, said “NIHR i4i funding at crucial stages in the growth of the company has been instrumental in this success story.”

Vadim K Alexandre, Head of Research at Northland Capital Partners Limited and a member of the i4i funding committee, said: “Today’s event illustrates how i4i is turning medtech companies into success stories, showing how far they can come in a short space of time and how far they can potentially go. The beauty is that there’s a whole pipeline of companies in NIHR’s portfolio for investors to consider.”