Award-winning Microplate Dx receives funding for rapid test for antibiotic resistance

Dr Stuart Hannah,CEO of Microplate DX

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.

The spin-out 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.

The award is presented in memory of the late Professor Stephen Young, former Head of Strathclyde’s Department of Marketing and Dr Huang’s supervisor and mentor during his PhD studies.

Biggest challenges

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal and Vice-Chancellor at Strathclyde said: “To accelerate our University 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 from start-up to spin-out and look forward to supporting as it seeks to address the global challenge of Antimicrobial Resistance.

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.

Rapid diagnosis

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.”

Innovative technology

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, which has a Strathclyde founding team and now has a staff of eight since spin-out, was also successful in winning two awards at the prestigious annual OBN Life Sciences Awards 2022 and won £70,000 of funding in the latest Scottish EDGE awards on December 8.

It was also selected to join Scottish Enterprise’s High Growth Ventures (HGV) portfolio, which will provide a range of strategic support to help it 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.

Leah Pape, Head of High Growth Services at Scottish Enterprise, said: “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."

Ben Carter, Investment Manager within the Life Sciences team at Deepbridge Capital, said: "We are delighted to join another great University spin out, with an inspiring leadership team, on their journey."

In April 2022, the team was nominated for Research Project of the Year in the Herald Higher Education Awards. Microplate Dx was also selected as one of the Top 10 Companies to Watch’ at the 2022 EIE conference. In September 2022, Microplate Dx were selected to take part in The University of Edinburgh’s AI Accelerator Programme based at the Bayes Centre, the University’s innovation hub for data science and AI.

Dr Huang’s donation will also support the construction of a new building, to be named after him, in Strathclyde’s Technology and Innovation Zone with Glasgow City Innovation District, and the creation of The Stephen Young Institute for International Business and The Stephen Young Global Leaders Scholarship Programme.