Catapult Venture Managers has led a £1.5 million funding round into innovative molecular diagnostic company Lumora.
The capital injection will be used to speed up Cambridgeshire-based Lumora’s entry into the clinical molecular diagnostic market, which is valued at £3.7 billion and has the potential for explosive growth in emerging global markets.
Catapult has invested just over £1 million from its Catapult Growth Fund, with the balance coming from a follow-on investment from Lumora’s major shareholder, Tate & Lyle Ventures.
Having proven the technology within food safety testing, the company now plans to enter the much larger clinical diagnostics sector.
The company’s development programmes focus on applications which benefit from its core technology, such as an integrated testing station for gastrointestinal (GI) infections and an HIV viral load monitoring system to support drug therapy throughout the developing world.
Lumora has developed a simple platform for molecular diagnostics based on an innovative signalling chemistry.
The technology allows tests to be performed at a single temperature and without the need for expensive optics, hence hardware is simple and low-cost.
Ed Wass, Catapult investment director, said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with Lumora’s excellent management team, led by chief executive Laurence Tisi.
“We have also introduced a non-executive director to the board – Jim Reid – who has a strong track record in the molecular diagnostic sector and who has worked previously for several major companies in the space, including Roche and Chiron, as well as being a successful entrepreneur in his own right.”
“An exciting application for Lumora’s technology is provision of a low cost solution for HIV testing in less developed regions, such as Africa, where there is generally less access to the current higher cost, more sophisticated laboratory alternatives.”
David Atkinson, managing partner of Tate & Lyle Ventures, said: ”We are delighted to welcome Catapult Venture Managers as an investor in Lumora along side Tate & Lyle Ventures.
“Having successfully developed the technology for use in the food sector, Lumora has identified a number of exciting opportunities in the larger clinical market and now has the financial resources to help it deliver in these areas.”
Mr Tisi said there is already a growing marketplace for the technology.
He said: “The platform is uniquely low-cost for both hardware and consumables and so represents an exciting new approach to bringing the advantages of molecular diagnostics to resource limited settings.
“Lumora is already collaborating with an internationally renowned not-for-profit organisation in the field of HIV viral load monitoring.”
“The technology has already been proven for food safety testing, and Lumora is now exploring commercial partnerships for clinical diagnostics.”
Mr Wass added: “Lumora is a very exciting company with great prospects and vision and we are very pleased to be supporting its future growth.”