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.