The South-East Innovation Programme (SE-IP), an initiative led by NCL Technology Ventures for Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) is helping to secure £21million of funding to develop treatment that could change the lives of autoimmune disease sufferers.

Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund 2014-2020, the SE-IP (formerly the MedTech Innovation Programme or M-IP) was scheduled to coincide with the opening of MBC’s Maidstone Innovation Centre in summer 2021. The programme is specifically aimed at supporting early-stage companies with pioneering technologies that significantly impact people’s lives.  

Led by ex-Pfizer employee Dr Jason Rutt, Pharmaceutical company, Azadyne, which originated in Trinity College Dublin, has already secured almost £1million in funding via the programme for its autoimmune disease treatment. As well as leading on the funding, NCL Technology Ventures assisted the company with its business and financial planning and relocating to Canterbury. It is now in the process of a second stage of financing to help Azadyne raise £21million for human trials of drugs that could treat diseases such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Autoimmune disease is one of the largest and most underserved areas of medicine. Most treatments available work by suppressing the immune system, which wipes out healthy cells and can result in numerous debilitating side effects for sufferers. The therapy being developed by Azadyne could be a huge breakthrough in this area of treatment as it takes a completely new approach, by specifically targeting abnormal immune cells, meaning healthy immune cells are unaffected.

Maidstone Borough Council Director of Regeneration and Place, William Cornall comments: “It’s really exciting that the work of the Maidstone Innovation Centre and SE-IP could help Azadyne potentially change the lives of autoimmune disease sufferers.

“The aim of the SE-IP is to back innovation in healthcare and related sectors that has a real impact on people’s lives and Azadyne’s work is a great example of that.

“We look forward to welcoming more companies to the programme and helping them work towards ground-breaking achievements.”

Azadyne CEO DR Jason Rutt commented that “Autoimmune diseases affect over 10% of the world’s population. Using ground-breaking tRNA modifying technology our novel drugs act via a new pathway in the body to treat a range of debilitating conditions including MS. We are excited to be taking these new medicines into the clinic and to continue our progress towards creating new medicines to treat these terrible diseases. It is incredibly hard for embryonic pharma companies to raise funding, so we are very grateful to SE-IP for helping us start to realise the potential of this ground-breaking research.”

The SE-IP is free of charge and includes all aspects of developing a commercially viable business. Companies wishing to apply for the training, must be either located within the SELEP covering Kent, Medway, Essex, East Sussex, Southend, and Thurrock or be able to move to the area prior to the programme. They must demonstrate that they have a viable technology or service proposition focused on any part of the healthcare market including health, life science and MedTech. Interested companies should contact Graham Hutchins at