A start-up business which can produce and carry out PCR tests at a fraction of the current cost has won £60,000 of funding through the BioAccelerate programme.
The programme, delivered by AberInnovation and funded by the UK Government’s Community Renewal Fund is open to Wales-based entrepreneurs operating in the food, circular economy and bio-tech sectors. The 2022 programme culminated in June when five finalists pitched for £50,000, on top of the £10,000 which each business had been awarded when they entered the second phase of the programme in March.
The winning business, AMPED PCR, has developed a new reagent which is enabling a reduction in cost of PCR testing, compared to what is available from the established providers. Ben Davis, the business founder, explains that the new tests can improve accessibility to PCR testing for early-stage researchers who are currently limited by affordability.
“The PCR testing industry is overcomplicated, but the AMPED tests will enable new applications for the testing technology, and down the line I’d like to see the tests used in farm veterinary applications,”
He adds that involvement in the BioAccelerate programme and the mentoring offered by Nurture Ventures has without doubt opened up new opportunities for the business.
“The workshops have been invaluable. Each one involved guest speakers with expertise in the focus area, which also provided everyone in the cohort with networking contacts, which could have taken a long time to find if it wasn’t for the sessions.
“I found the sessions on funding sources, data protection and Intellectual Property and trademarks especially insightful,”
says Mr Davis.
“Likewise, there was a lot to learn from the other business leaders, as providing and receiving feedback from each other really inspired me to raise the bar when it came to aspirations for my own business.”
Dr Mark Bowman, from the Technology Venture Investments team at the Development Bank of Wales, was one of the judges at the final pitch event. He explains how Mr Davis clearly demonstrated that his product was ready for investment.
“Ben’s pitch showed a thorough understanding of his customers’ requirements and the importance of intellectual property, as well as a genuine desire to make PCR testing more widely accessible to people,”
“Speaking from an investor’s perspective, the money is there to invest in new solutions, but there’s often a gap between the recently graduated expert with a great idea, and the investor who needs to be convinced that the technology is investable.
“We don’t always have the bandwidth to support budding entrepreneurs with developing their offering to the point where it’s ‘investor ready’, but the BioAccelerate programme is playing a key role at closing that gap in Wales,”
adds Dr Bowman.
Rhian Hayward, CEO at AberInnovation, adds that this year’s cohort made full use of the BioAccelerate programme workshops, mentoring and group activities.
“The programme is about encouraging early stage businesses to plan well, aim high and accelerate their business growth. From a regional perspective, it is helping to uncover entrepreneurs in Wales and bringing them together so they can learn from each other, as well as the programme and unlock their potential.”