A company developing novel, patented gels with a range of biomedical applications has been spun out from the University of Strathclyde.
Biogelx Ltd, based at BioCity in Newhouse, Lanarkshire, has benefited from a new round of investment by Glasgow-based angel syndicate Gabriel and the Scottish Investment Bank (SIB).
The company is focused on producing gels using methods inspired by biological systems, fundamentally changing the way products are designed and developed.
It will be commercialising technology developed in research led by Professor Rein Ulijn, of Strathclyde’s Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry.
Its initial focus will be on development of gels which imitate some of the properties of human tissue but are far less complex, and on which a range of cells, including stem cells, can be grown. This enables them to be studied in an environment which is close to natural tissue and the research has considerable potential for increasing understanding of biomedical uses for stem cells. This, in turn, can lead to the development of novel therapies.
Dr. David Lightbody, CEO of Biogelx Ltd, said: “We are delighted to have secured start-up funding through the support of Gabriel, the University of Strathclyde and Scottish Investment Bank and look forward to bringing this internationally recognised, patented technology to market.
“The use of bio-inspired materials across a range of applications will fundamentally change the way products are designed and developed. The launch of the Biogelx business provides a major opportunity to improve the way toxicology testing and drug development is carried out, through the use of patient-specific, cell-based bench-top systems instead of animals.
“As a result, we have already secured supply arrangements with key customers which we will support from our new laboratory in the recently opened bioscience facility at BioCity, Newhouse.”
Dr David McBeth, Director of Research & Knowledge Exchange Services at the University of Strathclyde, said: “Strathclyde continues to deliver exciting new companies commercialising leading edge technologies. Biogelx will build on the international reputation of Professor Ulijn and his peptide gel technologies, and I am pleased that my team was able to engage and help create a company with a promising future.
“Biogelx is the first Strathclyde spin-out to receive investment from Gabriel, which played a pivotal role in this company formation. Alongside the Gabriel investors we look forward to seeing Biogelx grow both in reputation and as a contributor to the Scottish economy.”
Gabriel was originally conceived by the Strathclyde University Incubator, which has its premises on the University’s campus. Its first investment was in Klik 2 Learn, an interactive online learning company serving the burgeoning UK and overseas markets.
Gill MacAulay, Director of Gabriel, said: “Gabriel is here specifically to encourage young and pre-start businesses. We keep the process of accessing this first vital stage of investment simple, in order to get the funds injected into the business quickly, and get them moving.
“We worked closely with Scottish Enterprise’s Scottish Investment Bank to build a process whereby we could all make quick decisions about this very vital early stage capital which is extremely thin on the ground”.
Kerry Sharp, acting head of the Scottish Investment Bank, said: “We are very pleased to be working closely with Gabriel to seek out and support more Scottish entrepreneurial talent. It’s part of Scottish Enterprise’s remit to help innovative new companies get started and secure critical funding and our work with Gabriel is a very important part of achieving that.
“We’re looking forward to continue to work closely with them to ensure young, striving Scottish companies have access to the capital they need to develop and grow.”
Dr Lightbody’s initial engagement with the University of Strathclyde, which led to the formation of Biogelx Ltd was supported by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Knowledge Transfer Account funding, and by the European Regional Development Fund- backed Executive Director Designate Programme.
30 January 2013