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Early-stage UK businesses took center stage at a medtech-focused investor event held as part of London's Tech Week. The weeklong festival of events, June 12-16, are intended to strengthen London's status as a global tech hub and celebrate cutting-edge innovation.



Growthdeck, an online equity crowdfunding platform, hosted a special investor event during London's Tech Week to put the spotlight on emerging UK medtech companies.



The UK medtech sector has experienced growth in recent years. A 2016 annual report published by the European Patent Office showed the UK saw a 22.4% rise in the number of medtech patent filings and reported that medtech was the second strongest sector for European patent filings, behind transport. (Also see "Philips Tops EU List As Most Prolific Medtech Patent Filer In 2016" - Medtech Insight, 10 Mar, 2017.)



Three early-stage medtech businesses currently seeking investment were showcased at Growthdeck's Tech Week event: Redecol, an asthma monitoring device company; Bioepic, which is turning smartphone cameras into non-invasive vital signs monitors; and iFabric, which manufacturers of a proprietary polymer for eczema and dermatitis management.



The evening session opened with a talk from medtech entrepreneur Graham Hine, the former CEO of companies including Capteur Sensors, Microsaic, P2i, Hardide and SGX Sensortech. Hines told the audience that medtech remained a hot sector, with technologies for improving aging and chronic diseases providing the best opportunities for investors. "The focus in the industry now is on prevention rather than treatment," Hines said. He advised potential investors to judge medtech companies by the strength of the CEO and their team, as well as on whether the technology would have a sustainable competitive advantage in its market and improve patient outcomes.



Medtech Startup Pitches


Asthma monitoring start-up Redecol was founded in February 2017 and is targeting 2020 for a market launch of its BreatheEasy lung-monitoring device. BreatheEasy does not require the forced breathing technique currently required by peak flow meters and only needs the patient to deliver controlled breaths to show if lung function is stable or deteriorating, Redecol says. The device automatically records the results and plots trends so it can provide early warnings to sufferers when their symptoms begin to worsen. It can also be linked to smartphones and results sent to healthcare professionals if further advice is needed.



The company, which was formed from a vendor-assisted management buyout from Anaxsys Ltd, said it is seeking £750,000 from investors for 43% equity. Tim Coutts, Redecol CEO said the funds would be used to continue development and commercialization of BreatheEasy. Redecol also has two further trials planned in 2017 - a 20 patient clinical challenge study at Leicester University Hospital and a 100 patient comparator study in India, which is due for completion in Q3 2017.



Bioepic is seeking funds to roll out its smartphone camera monitoring technology for measuring vital signs. The technology uses smartphone camera sensors and flash capabilities to take a photoplethysmography (PPG) stream from the user’s fingerprint and reconstruct a pulse that represents their prototype pulse. This information is then analyzed to identify prominent characteristics and calculate the range of indexes related to the cardiovascular system performance using processing tools, statistical patterns and heuristic techniques. Bioepic CEO, Dominic Wood, said the company is raising £500,000 for investors to acquire a 12.5% equity share in the company. Its existing investors include the company founders and one of the UK’s largest occupational health providers as well, as the founder of and the Head of Innovation at Roche Pharma AG.



The final pitch of the event came from Intelligent Fabric Technologies which manufactures silk garments for sufferers of eczema and dermatitis. The specialist garments are treated with the company's DreamSkin proprietary polymer, which is designed to protect the skin from external irritants. "It's based on the same technology used for contact lenses," explained iFabric founder & CEO George Costa.



The polymer is applied to fabric by ionic coupling to create a bond between fibres and the polymer. During the drying process, the molecules form into a multi-layer lamella structure which creates a strong hydrophobic and hydrophilic barrier that protects against irritants and retains moisture. The garments also contain a class-leading zinc-based antibacterial which provide control of bacteria within the garment.



iFabric is seeking £1m to bring the technology to the primary care market. "We want to raise the profile of this technology and the primary care market is the biggest opportunity for us," said Costa. The company's range includes 85 different clothing garments which have been approved by the UK MHRA and the US FDA. Wood said the company is aiming to incorporate the technology in a number of markets, including infant clothing and diaper linings. The company due to hold talks with Adidas soon to discuss how the technology could be included in sportswear ranges to prevent chaffing irritation.

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