The British Innovation Fund (“BIF”) is pleased to announce that investee company Attomarker, a spin-out from the University of Exeter, has successfully developed a Triple Antibody Test for COVID-19 (the “Test”). The Test has been authorised by UK regulatory body the MHRA following positive trial results at St Thomas’ NHS Hospital in London. Attomarker was funded entirely by the British Innovation Fund from seed stage, as part of its strategy of supporting and nurturing the best of UK university science and technology.
Simon Hopkins, CEO of Milltrust International Group (“Milltrust”) and Chairman of the BIF, commented: “Attomarker’s cutting-edge British technology provides a critical breakthrough in rapidly testing the UK population to help in the fight against this devastating pandemic. We are thrilled that such an advanced diagnostic device was funded by the BIF and demonstrates that within the fields of science and technology the UK continues to be world-leading.”
The Test, using Attomarker’s multiplex platform technology, detects antibodies to three different COVID-19 proteins in seven minutes at the point of care. This gives a more powerful profile of the clinically relevant biomarkers than other currently available COVID-19 tests, which only measure antibodies for one protein.
The pilot study for the Test was conducted at St. Thomas’ NHS Hospital in London and published this week in the journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Analyst. Further testing has begun at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, trialling a combined COVID-19/flu antibody test in order to help healthcare professionals discriminate between the two infections. The test could ease the burden on the NHS ahead of this year’s flu season.
To deliver the technology to the frontline, Smiths Detection, part of Smiths Group, is working with Attomarker and has manufactured 10 pre-production devices, with the ability to ramp up volume according to demand. Together with Scienion, the array manufacturer, this gives Attomarker the capacity to provide a testing service in volume early Autumn, each device being able to test up to 50 blood samples per day.
Further, the technology is being developed into a miniaturised hand-held device, docked to a smartphone, to provide the same quantitative accuracy in the community at point-of-care, including care homes, and pharmacies. The future production of a miniaturised version will also enable the technology to be delivered at home, and to low-income countries.
Milltrust’s British Innovation Fund, backed by UK local government pension funds, is a major supporter of science-based projects originating from world-class British university research.
Griff Williams, CIO of the British Innovation Fund, added, “This fund was set up to back the best of British science and technology. We are proud that one of the companies we helped to launch is now providing an “all-British”, sophisticated testing solution for COVID-19 during this critical national emergency. We are now looking to get the device rapidly into the hands of government and the health service through our all-British solution.”
Guy Pengelley, Investment Director of the British Innovation Fund, joined the team in January to expand coverage of the UK university sector to encompass a nation-wide coverage, in response to the increased volume of innovative technologies being developed at UK universities:
“Attomarker shows the importance of making early investment available to UK university spin-outs and the talented research teams behind unique IP. Whilst the Golden Triangle universities are rightly recognised by investors in the development of science and technology spin-outs, the BIF casts a wider net in recognising that cutting-edge research is being conducted in a number of universities across the UK, all the way from the south west of England through to the north east of Scotland.”
“We have a shortlist of spin-out investments with huge potential, validated by our expert advisory panel of scientists, that we are hoping to invest in over the Autumn, developing solutions to help improve and save lives.”
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Figure 1 – benchtop testing device in action:
About Milltrust International Group (“Milltrust”)
With a unique multi-local multi-affiliate structure, Milltrust is an FCA authorised asset manager providing innovative impact investment solutions and delivering genuinely differentiated alpha to our investors around the globe.
About the British Innovation Fund (the “Fund”)
The British Innovation Fund recognises the world-class science and technology development that is being carried out in many of Britain’s top universities. The Fund invests in and nurtures impactful, early-stage companies – helping them reach their full potential and guiding them to world-wide recognition and success.
Now, more than ever, the university spinouts which form the British Innovation Fund’s investment universe require our support and funding to ensure that the cutting-edge science and technology being developed in British universities continues to progress in these challenging times.
Attomarker Ltd. is a spin-out company from the University of Exeter. Its focus is the development of multiplex blood testing technology, networked via the Cloud, helping health services, NGOs, governments and consumers monitor and manage infectious and non-infectious diseases. Attomarker Ltd. is shortlisted for the Longitude Prize, is featured in the Science Museum’s Wellcome Galleries and was winner of the Oxford Biotech Network ‘One to Watch Award’ 2019.