US biotechnology start-up LivFul, which has its European base at Sci-Tech Daresbury’s Innovation Centre, is looking to further expand its work saving lives from malaria and other insect-borne diseases following a recent funding boost.
A management led investment round has secured $1.5m to support the company’s ambitious growth plans.
The company’s major markets are now opening up following the pandemic, with interest in Livful’s Enhanced Insect Repellent ramping up. Livful is currently focussing its business development initiatives on Australia, the United States, Uganda, Nigeria, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Livful’s patented STAYTEC™ technology enables the production of next-gen insect repellents. Using Merck’s highly reputable active ingredient IR3535™, LivFul created a repellent that defied expectations. The environmentally friendly product delivers the unique combination of long-lasting (14 hours) protection with a smooth lotion like feel.
Beyond the convenience of avoiding pesky bug bites, LivFul focuses on communities in low and middle income countries where over 600 million people suffer from insect borne diseases every year. A child dies from malaria every two minutes and other diseases such as dengue fever to yellow fever, Lyme disease and Zika virus take a heavy toll on humanity, and often lead to a cycle of poverty.
While nets, residual spray and traditional repellents help fight off the insects that cause these diseases, these solutions offer only temporary, localised protection, or can expose a family to chemicals that are inhaled or absorbed into the skin. It is LivFul’s mission to enable access to a tech-enabled insect repellent that fits seamlessly into daily routines in the areas most at risk.
Livful has also recently piloted a modular manufacturing program in Ghana, which has since been expanded to Nigeria. The program allows local social entrepreneurs to operate as a micropackaging and distribution franchise, creating job opportunities while helping to improve the wellbeing of their community.
A similar project is being piloted in Brazil, in which local entrepreneurs can build a saleable business in partnerships with manufacturers that will help build more resilient supply chains while getting solutions into the hands of people who need them via distributors and hospitals.
The company’s recent growth has also seen a series of new roles created at its Sci-Tech Daresbury base, where it has expanded its presence within the Innovation Centre from two members of staff to eight since its arrival in 2019. The existing operations team in the lab now has the additional support of an Operation & Quality manager. At the same time, a revamped marketing team has settled in the Innovation Centre with a global marketing manager, a content marketing associate, and a project manager working hand in hand with a brand manager based in Brazil.
During the pandemic the company pivoted to providing PPE, and partnered with WorldVision and Mission Ships to get products to hard to reach areas such as North Korea and East Africa.
Hogan Bassey, chief access officer, Livful (pictured) commented: “This latest investment round will help us realise the repellent opportunities we had pre-COVID. It will also help us add more products to our portfolio and begin to transition our business model in a unique way that brings systemic change into life sciences. If standard quality medical products have a tough time getting to the health care systems in low and middle income countries, how in the world will new innovation? We envision a model that can do both. We’re reimagining the currently ecosystem so that as we disrupt everything, we continuously invite established companies to join us in this new way of thinking.
“During the pandemic we were able to stay true to who we are while doing PPE work by being creative but principled. The market was flooded with opportunists – but we did it right to sustain us through the difficult times, and that approach has allowed us to be in the position to secure this investment and take our repellent and wider business to the next level.”
John Leake, business growth director, Sci-Tech Daresbury, said: “Hogan and his team at Livful are a true Sci-Tech Daresbury success story. This latest investment round is just rewards for an innovative company that marries an acute sense of business knowhow with an irresistible zeal to make the world a better place.
“Livful is a brilliant example of why so many international companies choose to locate their UK base at Sci-Tech Daresbury. As a global start up, the company needed a location with great connectivity and access to a variety of collaborators. Our campus has delivered that, with Livful engaging with local universities and other campus partners. It’s an honour to support this inspirational company on the next step of their journey.”