University of Manchester spin-out company, Gelexir Healthcare Ltd (Gelexir), the creator of a revolutionary non-surgical procedure for the treatment of Chronic Lower Back Pain, has secured a total £353,102 investment from The University of Manchester, The North West Fund for Biomedical (NWF4B) managed by SPARK Impact, Central Manchester Foundation Trust (CMFT) and Business Angels.
The company, which was founded on the back of discoveries and developments made at the University over the past 10 years will use the financial backing from investors to continue its program of advanced clinical trials scheduled to take place towards the end of 2015.
Commenting on the receipt of the funding, Gelexir CEO Dr Philippe Jenny said:
“This funding is a great step forward as it provides the resources to transfer the discovery from the bench to the industrial world and pushes the technology through the demanding validation tests, heading towards the first patient.”
Gelexir provides an innovative and cost-effective treatment for Chronic Lower Back Pain caused by Degenerative Disc Disease. The process addresses the condition at an early stage and involves the injection of polymer microgels that restore the disc’s shock absorptive properties and replicate the bio-mechanical properties of a healthy intervertebral disc.
Dr Jenny added: “It has the potential to offer an alternative to spinal fusion techniques, which require invasive surgery and significant recovery times. This will be a great step forward in providing an improved treatment and faster recovery for patients.”
Professor Tony Freemont, Head of Manchester Medical School, and Gelexir Board Member hailed the treatment’s potential significance for back pain sufferers:
“There is a real need for a simple, safe, easily administered treatment for back pain that is refractory to simple drug and physiotherapy, but does not necessitate major spine surgery. This funding will allow Gelexir to get closer to taking its product, which at its current state of development appears to fulfil all these criteria, closer to clinical trials.”
The cash injection will provide the means for Gelexir to continue laboratory-based development and trials – with testing scheduled to commence with the help of patients in the latter half of 2015.
UMIP, the University’s agent for intellectual property (IP) commercialisation, has provided IP and business development expertise and also early-stage Proof-of-Principle funding and seed corn funding from its UMIP’s Premier Fund. Translational funding has also been provided by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
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.
UMI3 Ltd, the innovation company of The University of Manchester and the University’s Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, have announced that they will work collaboratively with the Isle of Man’s Department of Economic Development to attract business angel investment finance into its early stage biomedical spin-out companies.
The collaboration will involve twice yearly network events on the Island when a selection of the University’s biomedical spin-out companies and enterprising academics will present to an invited audience of high net wealth private investors. It is anticipated that one of the events annually will be a satellite to the successful Manx Biomed conference which was launched in December 2013.
Dr Rich Ferrie, Director of Operations of UMIP, UMI3’s intellectual property division, commented: “We are very excited by this initiative which looks to broaden the investment opportunities for our biomedical spin-out companies and strengthen our ties with the developing biomedical cluster on the Island. We look forward to working closely with Courtenay Heading and his colleagues to make a success of this collaboration for mutual benefit with a view to rolling it out to other sectors as appropriate.”
Courtenay Heading, Biomed, Inward Investment Consultant to the Isle of Man Government commented: “I’m delighted to be working with UMI3 and UMIP which has a proven track record with creating new spin-out companies from The University of Manchester’s world class research. As near neighbours this initiative builds on trusted relationships between our people. With existing data hosting and precision manufacture sectors we offer complementary skills to the biomed market. With an accessible Government we’re also capable of writing our own legislation, to support such an important initiative to improve patient health and create local jobs.”
Minister John Shimmin, Isle of Man Government, for the Department of Economic Development commented: “The Isle of Man has established itself as one of the most successful small international business centres in the world. We have done so by creating an environment where businesses can access the capital and the professional services expertise they need to flourish on a global scale. My Department fully supports this initiative with UMI3.”
To complement the funding initiative, the University and Biomed will be working strategically on a number of research themes. Professor Paul Townsend, Associate Dean for Business Engagement & Theme Lead for Personalised Therapy at the University’s Faculty Institute for Cancer Sciences, commented: “This is an opportune time for all of us in the region to synergise and strive forward in harnessing relationships of biomedical need, with mutual investment benefit and critically, patient benefit. The Isle of Man has a stellar track record in precision engineering; combined with our spin outs and enterprising scientists and clinicians one can only see a very bright future.”
IP Group plc (LSE: IPO) (“IP Group” or “the Company” or “the Group”), the developer of intellectual property based businesses, is delighted to announce that it has extended its commercialisation agreement with The University of Manchester (“the University”) through its technology transfer company, UMI3 Ltd, to include Proof-of-Principle (“PoP”) funding for graphene projects.
The Group also announces that, subject to completion of its Capital Raising announced on 23 January 2014, it intends to commit a further £2.5 million of funding, bringing the total to £7.5 million, under the revised terms of the agreement which has also been extended to 2019. The Capital Raising is due to complete on 14 February 2014.
Sir Kostya Novoselov and Sir Andre Geim first isolated graphene at The University of Manchester in 2004 and their ground-breaking experiments on the material earned them the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010.
The University is also the home of the National Graphene Institute (NGI). The £61m 7,600 square metre building, which is due to open next year, will house state-of-the-art facilities. Funding for the NGI will come from the Government (£38m from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council), as part of £50m allocated for graphene research, and from the European Research and Development Fund (£23m).
Graphene, a two dimensional material consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb or chicken wire structure, is the thinnest material known and yet also one of the strongest. It conducts electricity as efficiently as copper and outperforms all other materials as a conductor of heat.
Alan Aubrey, Chief Executive of IP Group, said: “The University is world famous for being the home of the isolation of graphene and we are delighted to have reached agreement with UMI3 around funding graphene projects. IP Group’s first graphene company, Applied Graphene Materials, floated on AIM in November and we look forward to making more investments in this exciting area.”
Clive Rowland, UMI3 CEO, said: “The University has been developing a number of intellectual property projects which have now reached the stage where Proof-of-Principle investment is necessary to take them to the next phase and to bring on another set of inventions coming through our system. The University’s very active engagement with industrial companies is informing our understanding of which graphene areas are most relevant to develop and the possibilities for setting up intellectual property joint ventures with companies already in the market place means that our projects will be well placed for market adoption. We have been working with IP Group since last year and feel that its expertise, resources and investment capital adds significant and complementary value to our own well regarded innovation system and networks. A partnership of this nature achieves a critical mass necessary to succeed in an emerging technology field like graphene.”
IP Group signed its original agreement with the University, through UMI3, in February 2013. Under the terms of that agreement, IP Group agreed to create a PoP funding facility for the identification and formation of new spin-out companies and to make available an initial facility of up to £5 million to provide capital to new proof of principle projects intended for commercialisation through spin-out companies.
In return, IP Group receives equity stakes in such spin-out companies on pre-agreed terms and has the right to invest further in these companies as they progress. In addition, IP Group provides access to its relevant experts, business building expertise, mentoring, coaching and co-investing networks, recruitment and business support.
For more information, please contact:
IP Group plc www.ipgroupplc.com
Alan Aubrey, Chief Executive Officer +44 (0) 20 7444 0050
Liz Vaughan-Adams, Communications +44 (0) 20 7444 0062 / +44 (0) 7979 853 802
Ben Atwell, John Dineen +44 (0) 20 7831 3113
Clive Rowland, Chief Executive +44 (0)161 603 7750
Press office: Allan Prits +44 (0)161 606 7240