University of Nottingham spin-out, NuVision, has received £379k seed funding from Mercia Fund Management, to help develop innovative new eye care solutions for humans and animals.
The funding from Mercia will support the commercialisation of NuVision's ground-breaking product, Omnigen™, an easy to use, dry, amniotic membrane-derived biological bandage that can be used to treat ocular wounds caused by scratches, blisters and burns, as soon as they occur, as well as more long-term, non-healing persistent defects.
Pioneering manufacturing process
Omnigen is produced using a pioneering manufacturing process called Tereo™, which was developed by the extensive research and expertise of the ophthalmic team at The University of Nottingham.
Mercia Fund Management (MFM) is a national fund management business with a focus on the Midlands, North and Scotland, has committed £379,000 in seed funding to NuVision Biotherapies Ltd, a University of Nottingham spinout developing effective and affordable eye care medical solutions for humans and animals.
Founded by Professor Harminder Dua, a world-renowned ophthalmologist and Dr Andrew Hopkinson, Principle Research Fellow in Academic Ophthalmology at The University of Nottingham, NuVision has successfully harnessed the restorative and protective potential of amniotic membrane, the sac surrounding the baby during pregnancy, which is usually discarded at birth. Market demand for amnion products in the EU alone is valued at €48m per annum.
Thirteen years of research
Omnigen, which is the result of 13 years of research, also supported by the British Ministry of Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, can potentially save people from blindness caused by injury to the cornea. A dry, sterile Omnigen disc can be glued directly onto the ocular surface during reconstructive surgery, and permanently sutured in position.
Most uniquely, it can also now be used immediately after injury, applied in the emergency room and held in place by a conformer contact lens. Rapid in vivo rehydration from eye moisture then initiates the release of beneficial amnion constituents, acting quickly to help relieve pain and stabilise the eye injuries of anyone, from a pet, to soldiers on the battlefield.
NuVision's innovative product also eliminates the problems inherent in using frozen amniotic membrane, which is unsuitable for emergency dispatch, loses its potency during the thawing process, and must be used within 48 hours. The flexible, dry and stable design means that Omnigen can be uniquely stored on the shelf at every hospital, or carried in the field in ambulances and first aid kits and used whenever it is needed. It is also of a consistently high quality, helping to quickly and effectively treat the 120,000 corneal injuries that occur each year in the UK alone.
Revolutionising ophthalmic care
Peter Dines, Investment Director and Head of Life Sciences at Mercia Fund Management, said: "NuVision is the perfect example of the potential that university spinouts have in the UK - a great team, innovating research and a product set to revolutionise ophthalmic care worldwide are just a few of the reasons why we chose to back NuVision with seed funding. We look forward to supporting them as they begin to commercialise Omnigen and the Tereo process."
Dr Andrew Hopkinson, Chief Executive of NuVision Biotherapies, said: "We are grateful to Mercia for this investment, and we look forward especially to working with Peter Dines, who has extensive experience working with businesses in the life sciences sector.
"With a strong, experienced team, plus a pipeline of innovative products coming from The University of Nottingham, NuVision has endless potential for growth!"
Dr George Baxter, Director of Business Engagement and Innovation Services at The University of Nottingham, added:"I am very pleased that Mercia has invested in NuVision and will help to take the company to the next stage of its development.
"NuVision's groundbreaking Omnigen product, which is based on technology developed at The University of Nottingham, has huge potential in the treatment of ocular injuries. There has already been a significant amount of interest in the product around the world from both veterinary and human ophthalmologists who can see the tremendous potential of Omnigen."
NuVision is now based in MediCity, a rapidly-expanding innovation hub for consumer healthcare, medical technology, diagnostics and beauty products on the Boots UK site in Nottingham. Dr Hopkinson and the team are being supported at MediCity by specialist business advice and peer-to-peer learning in order to exploit the considerable market opportunities for Omnigen™ and the Tereo™ process.
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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with campuses in China and Malaysia modelled on a headquarters that is among the most attractive in Britain’ (Times Good University Guide 2014). It is also the most popular university in the UK among graduate employers, one of the world’s greenest universities, and winner of the Times Higher Education Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development’. It is ranked in the World’s Top 75 universities by the QS World University Rankings.
Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fundraising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future
About Mercia Fund Management
Mercia Fund Management, a wholly owned subsidiary of Mercia Technologies PLC, is a leading investor in UK technology; specialising in the commercialisation of businesses with high growth potential across a range of technology driven sectors in which deep expertise is held.
Mercia can provide early stage, development and growth capital to enable investment in a wide range of opportunities whilst being strategically positioned to allocate follow-on capital to stars in the portfolio.
As sector specialists, Mercia’s value is not only in the pre-investment discovery, analysis and selection of high growth opportunities, but critically in the support of those companies post-investment. Investment directors have been directly involved in the financing, building and management of companies in their respective sectors, and work extensively with the executive management team of each investee company in order to drive value creation, control risk and deliver profitable exits.
Mercia Fund Management is wholly owned by Mercia Technologies PLC (www.merciatechnologies.com), which listed on AIM in December raising £70m. Mercia Technologies is focused on providing later stage direct investment to the emerging stars from the EIS and SEIS portfolio within the Mercia Growth Fund series to expand and ultimately exit these businesses.
The combination of EIS and SEIS funds under management and direct investment gives Mercia a unique venture capital model which, through follow-on funding, has the ability to back high-growth technology businesses anywhere from an early stage, through their growth journey and ultimately to a profitable exit.
Mercia Fund Management is an FCA authorised and regulated fund manager under FSMA (FRN: 524856).
About NuVision™ Biotherapies Limited
NuVision™ Biotherapies Limited is a new biotechnology company emerging from the University of Nottingham. Dr Andrew Hopkinson recognised the gap in the British Ophthalmic Biotech section and founded NuVision to accelerate new discoveries for treating ‘front of the eye’ disease from the laboratory to the clinic. The MediCity-based company has plans to develop a profile of ground-breaking, high quality and affordable treatments to tackle blindness. GMP manufacturing laboratories licensed by the Human Tissue Authority will come online in September 2015 to launch Omnigen. The business is co-owned by the founders, Dr Andrew Hopkinson (Chief Executive Officer), Professor Harminder Dua (Clinical Directors), the directors Mr Byran Lister (COO), Dr Helen Shaw (Chairman), Dr Claire Allen, Dr Matthew Branch, and the University of Nottingham. Recognising the potential of Omnigen, NuVision recently won the Medilink East Midlands Business Award for Innovation. http://www.nu-vision.co.uk/