Success for Strathclyde spinout at Scottish Life Sciences Awards

The Microplate Dx team at the Scottish Life Sciences Awards. Left to right: Chair Dr Poonam Malik;  CEO Dr Stuart Hannah; Chief Technology Advisor Dr Damion Corrigan

A spinout company from the University of Strathclyde, which specialises in diagnostics testing, has continued its recent run of success with a win at the Scottish Life Sciences Awards.

Microplate Dx was named the winner in the Innovative Healthcare Technology category, for its work in developing a rapid, low-cost, antibiotic susceptibility test.

The Microplate Dx test enables clinicians to select the best choice of antibiotic for a particular infection, giving them confidence in their treatment options in a matter of minutes.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR), the ability of bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi to continue growing and no longer respond to available medicines/antibiotics, is one of the greatest threats facing humanity. Globally, there were an estimated five million AMR-associated deaths in 2019, and by 2050, AMR could kill more than cancer and diabetes combined. A recent report from India indicated that AMR has risen there by 10% in just one year and warns ‘corrective measures need to be taken immediately otherwise AMR will quickly become the next pandemic.’

The award follows Microplate Dx’s double success in 2022 at the UK-wide OBN Life Sciences Awards, in which the company was named Best Start-Up Medtech company and received the BioSeed One To Watch Award. It also won a £70,000 prize at the 2022 Scottish EDGE Awards, which are designed to support young firms with high growth potential, and in 2021 received the Best Pitch award in the Converge Challenge category of the Inside Innovation showcase, with £20,000 in cash and £10,000 of in-kind support. It was also runner-up in the Converge Challenge finals in 2021.

The company’s growth has been further supported by more than £500,000 secured in a seed funding round last year, with a significant donation linked to alongside a Stephen Young Entrepreneurship Award for investment into early-stage emerging entrepreneurs and the donation to the University by the Charles Huang Foundation.

The winners of the Scottish Life Sciences were announced at a ceremony at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Dr Stuart Hannah, CEO and co-founder of Microplate Dx, said: “As a team we are incredibly proud that we have won this award. We were up against some very strong competition, and the fact we came away as winners is real testament to the hard work of the Microplate Dx team, and all our supporters and believers.

“It really helps validate our mission and what we’re doing every day to help patients, clinicians and tackle antimicrobial resistance.”

Experts, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), are already warning about ‘the silent pandemic of AMR’ declaring that action is needed now to mitigate its spread, and ensure patients receive the correct treatment immediately, upon first presentation.

Current tests take up to 48 hours to determine the optimum antibiotic for an infection, exacerbating antibiotic resistance through ‘best-guess’ antibiotic prescribing. In some circumstances, this can lead to severe health complications for patients and even deaths in cases of sepsis.

Microplate Dx is developing a test which indicates the correct antibiotic for each patient in under 45 minutes - significantly quicker than current methods, which can take several days. The technology is sensor-based and designed for use at the point-of-care, meaning patients get the right antibiotic treatment immediately.

Microplate Dx has received support from Strathclyde Inspire, the University’s flagship entrepreneurship programme, which supports and encourages entrepreneurship in all its forms, offering entrepreneurial opportunities and training to all students, staff and alumni.

Prior to spinout, Microplate Dx was supported by £280,000 from Scottish Enterprise via its High Growth Spinout Programme and by a Royal Society of Edinburgh Enterprise Fellowship worth £100,000.

Strathclyde Inspire has produced a podcast on the company, titled Let’s Talk Entrepreneurship: A journey of commercialisation with MicroplateDx.