AN AWARD-winning University of Strathclyde spinout company, Microplate Dx Limited, has secured significant seed funding to scale-up development of its game-changing diagnostic test. The test aims to detect antimicrobial resistance (AMR) by testing for the right antibiotic that should be prescribed to patients, in less than 40 minutes.
Globally, there were an estimated five million AMR-associated deaths in 2019, and by 2050, antimicrobial resistance could kill more than cancer and diabetes combined. Around 60% of women report at least one urinary tract infections (UTIs) in their lifetime, and one in three will have at least one symptomatic UTI necessitating antibiotic treatment by the age of 24. UTIs are also the cause of one in four life-shortening sepsis cases.
The Microplate Dx team has completed an initial seed funding round of more than half a million pounds, led by Deepbridge Capital LLP, and equity investment from the University of Strathclyde’s Strathclyde Inspire Entrepreneurs Fund (SIEF). This is supplemented by the Stephen Young Entrepreneurship Award for investment into early stage Emerging Entrepreneurs, which is funded by a donation to the University by the Charles Huang Foundation.
This equity investment has been bolstered by non-dilutive funding support from Scottish Enterprise in the form of a £161,000 R&D grant, and from competition winnings including: Scottish EDGE, the Converge Challenge and CPI (Centre for Process Innovation).
The company was selected to join Scottish Enterprise’s High Growth Ventures (HGV) portfolio, which will provide a range of strategic support to help the company achieve its significant scale-up ambitions. Prior to spinout, Microplate Dx was supported by £280,000 from Scottish Enterprise via its High Growth Spinout Programme (HGSP), and a Royal Society of Edinburgh Enterprise Fellowship worth £100,000.
Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal and Vice-Chancellor at Strathclyde said: “To accelerate our university’s mission of delivering global impact, we support and encourage entrepreneurship for all, empowering our staff and students to help them in their growth journey.
“The Stephen Young Entrepreneurship Awards support the University’s work in transforming lives, supporting the economy and the next generation of entrepreneurs who are tackling some of the biggest challenges we face as a society.
“We are delighted to have backed Microplate Dx technology from start-up concept to spin-out and look forward to supporting as it seeks to address the global challenge of Antimicrobial Resistance.”
Leah Pape, Head of High Growth Services at Scottish Enterprise, said: ‘We’ve worked with Microplate Dx since its pre-spinout days at the University of Strathclyde and its huge potential was always very clear.
“Antibiotic resistance is a major global health risk and the company’s innovative testing technology has the potential to be both life-saving and world-changing. It’s great to see the company attracting private investment to further accelerate its growth, and we look forward to continuing our work with them as part of our High Growth Ventures portfolio.’”
Ben Carter, Investment Manager within the Life Sciences team at Deepbridge Capital, said: “Microplate Dx is a great example of the type of innovative life sciences company Deepbridge supports; potentially impacting the lives of many people for the good. We are delighted to join another great University spin out, with an inspiring leadership team, on their journey. This is exactly why the Enterprise Investment Scheme is such a powerful tool in empowering innovators to create the companies of tomorrow.”
Dr Stuart Hannah, Microplate Dx CEO, said: “Rapid diagnosis of the appropriate antibiotic treatment avoids lengthy delays in antibiotic prescribing, meaning patients suffering a life-threatening infection can be treated straightaway when the infection first presents, and start to recover much more quickly than with conventional methods.
“We call this ‘personal prescribing’, and for serious infections early intervention can save lives.
“This hard-won funding will enable the team to scale up development of their UTI system, accelerating timelines towards regulatory approval, clinical deployment and eventual sales.
“As a Strathclyde spin-out, we are especially proud to be among the first recipients of the Stephen Young entrepreneurship award.”
Professor Andy Porter said: “Microplate Dx have exciting plans for their technology platform that can produce results in less than an hour and at the patient’s bedside, compared to days in hospital laboratories.
“For serious, systemic infections “best-guess” prescribing can see some patients deteriorate rapidly and even succumb to disease.
“I feel certain that the new Microplate Dx platform will save lives whilst increasing the useful lifespan of the precious antibiotic arsenal available to doctors.”
Recently, in November 2022, Microplate Dx Team won two awards at the Life Sciences Sector’s prestigious national OBN Awards in London including the ‘Bioseed One to Watch’ and ‘Best Startup Medtech Company’.