Innovate UK EDGE post-seed funding support boosts diagnostics pioneer

Bedfordshire-based biomedical company launches novel COVID-19 portable test with support from Innovate UK EDGE after £1 million in seed funding.

Posted on: 12/05/2021

A fast-growing Bedfordshire biomedical company has been receiving support from Innovate UK EDGE in its ambition to become a global market leader in point-of-care, rapid diagnostics.

This support builds on financial investment of more than £1 million from the UK Innovation and Science Seed Fund (UKI2S), an early-stage venture capital fund supported by UK Research and Innovation, and the Innovate UK-backed Accelerator, also managed by UKI2S.

COVID-19 rapid diagnostics

AgPlus Diagnostics‘ latest application is a portable test that can detect the COVID-19 virus within minutes rather than hours or days. Its innovative technology combines electrochemistry with metallic nanoparticles.

As well as differentiating from other infections causing similar symptoms, the COVID-19 immunoassay could be used to monitor patients during treatment and to guide timely decisions on when to discharge them from isolation. There is another test specifically for bacterial infection.

The company has also developed an antibody assay that could determine if a person has previously had a COVID-19 infection and might be an effective aid to drug and vaccine development. The project has attracted a total of £225,000 in grants from Innovate UK.

It is just one of a number of clinical adaptations being devised for the ultra-sensitive, diagnostic platform which is based on research at the National Physical Laboratory.

Mentoring support from Innovate UK EDGE

AgPlus began working with an Innovate UK EDGE specialist in December 2019 after seeking advice on expanding into markets in Europe, Africa and Japan.

Innovation and growth specialist Arun Muthirulan helped CEO Fiona Marshall design and implement an innovation management process to identify and develop the most promising ideas. He also reviewed the company’s commercialisation plan.

AgPlus has since seen a 53% increase in revenue and added two new customers, representing a fifth of its customer base. One new job was created in 2020 and at least two more are likely to be added in 2021.

Dr Marshall said: “The funding from Innovate UK is key for small businesses such as AgPlus who want to improve processes in order to be ready for rapid scale up. The advice from an Innovate UKEDGE specialist helped AgPlus to develop those processes sooner, with the added benefit of having independent input and review.”

As CEO, the mentoring support from Innovate UK EDGE was fantastic and really helped me to focus my time and resources to work toward the business strategy more efficiently.

– Dr Fiona Marshall, CEO, AgPlus Diagnostics Ltd

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