Funding programme reaps rewards

Retrogenix, a Sheffield-based drug-screening firm, has been awarded £150,000 of funding following successful completion of Yorkshire Forward’s Access to Finance for Healthcare Technology Companies programme.

The group, which has developed a specialist cell microarray technology to screen drugs against human proteins, said that it will use the investment to increase its services for pharmaceutical groups.

It is the first company to secure equity funding through the Access to Finance programme since its launch in February. The programme has been designed to give healthcare technology companies in Yorkshire the expertise, tools and resources needed to secure equity funding investors.

Dr Jim Freeth, former project leader at AstraZeneca, set up Retrogenix in October with partner Jo Soden to meet a need for large pharmaceutical companies to have a process that would help them better understand the causes of side effects in drugs.

According to company, the technology can also be used in drug re-profiling and testing of drugs that have already been launched on the market for their adaptability to treat other illnesses. The process has already received interest from a number of business angels at a Access to Finance programme event held in March.

Freeth said: ‘The programme gave me the knowledge and skills to be able to negotiate effectively and achieve the best result for the company. The four-day workshop gave me an in-depth understanding of the equity landscape, which was entirely new to me, and the mock investor presentation was invaluable in teaching me how to pitch effectively to potential investors.’

Two of the business angels who have expressed interest are expected to take an active role in the company as consultants. Neil Ewin and Mark Woodward of Ewin Woodward Development believe there is significant commercial potential in Retrogenix’s technology.

Phil Whaley, programme manager, said: ‘Retrogenix’s successful fund raising in these difficult market conditions is a reflection of the quality of both the team and business proposition on offer. The flexibility of the programme provided [Freeth] with the tailored and targeted support he needed to conclude the deal.’