University spin-out named as a Bloomberg UK start-up to watch

Tuesday, 24 October 2023

University of Nottingham, School of Physics and Astronomy spin-out company Cerca Magnetics has been named as one of Bloomberg UK’s ‘start-ups to watch.’

Wearable brain imaging technology, that can provide accurate measures of brain function in freely moving patients was created by scientists at the University of Nottingham. In 2020 Cerca Magnetics was founded to develop the system commercially.

Cerca Magnetics is one of only 25 start-ups selected from over 1,500 applications for the inaugural Bloomberg UK's Startups to Watch who canvassed the UK to find 25 start-ups that represent the diversity and innovation of the country's start-up scene.

The University of Nottingham and Cerca Magnetics, in partnership with Colorado based atomic physics company QuSpin Inc. have pioneered the rapid development of a new type of brain scanner, which employs quantum technology to measure magnetic fields above the scalp. A process termed magnetoencephalography (MEG).

The system uses small LEGO-brick-sized optically pumped magnetometers (OPMs) to measure the brain magnetic field, these have been incorporated into a lightweight helmet that allows people to move freely during scanning. The innovative design means the system can be adapted to fit anyone, from newborns to adults, and sensors can be placed much closer to the head, dramatically enhancing data quality. OPM-MEG is also much cheaper than conventional MEG scanners, providing greater accessibility for clinical institutions.

OPM-MEG systems have been installed in a number of institutions to be used for research including; Young Epilepsy UK in partnership with Great Ormond Street Hospital, Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto and more recently Universities in the US and Europe.

In the past twelve months Cerca has received Innovate UK funding to gain medical device approval for the OPM-MEG system and should see the device approved for clinical use by the US based FDA.

I am very proud that Cerca Magnetics Limited have been recognised by Bloomberg UK as one of the Top 25 Start-ups to watch. The team at Cerca and I have worked incredibly hard to get our cutting-edge functional brain imaging equipment in use by some of the leading neurological research centres in the world. We are excited about the massive societal impact that we feel the technology can have for conditions such as epilepsy, dementia and Parkinson’s amongst others.
David Woolger, Director of Cerca Magnetics

Bloomberg looked for the most innovative, new UK businesses to highlight to feature in the list and considered a number of criteria when assessing the entries including: the scope of the problem they're tackling, creativity of ideas, the traction they're getting with investors and customers, and their commitment to diversity.

I am very proud of how far this research has come in a relatively short space of time. Seeing the research we undertook in the lab developed and translated to systems that can be rolled out across the world is hugely exciting, especially as we know the difference it could make in understanding and diagnosing a range of conditions.
Elena Boto, Chief Technical Officer at Cerca Magnetics

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About the University of Nottingham

Ranked 32 in Europe and 16th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings: Europe 2024, the University of Nottingham is a founding member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience, and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement.

Nottingham was crowned Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024 – the third time it has been given the honour since 2018 – and by the Daily Mail University Guide 2024.

The university is among the best universities in the UK for the strength of our research, positioned seventh for research power in the UK according to REF 2021. The birthplace of discoveries such as MRI and ibuprofen, our innovations transform lives and tackle global problems such as sustainable food supplies, ending modern slavery, developing greener transport, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

The university is a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally - and our graduates are the second most targeted by the UK's top employers, according to The Graduate Market in 2022 report by High Fliers Research.

We lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, a pioneering collaboration between the city’s two world-class institutions to improve levels of prosperity, opportunity, sustainability, health and wellbeing for residents in the city and region we are proud to call home.

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