A Norfolk firm behind a rapid Covid test that can identify infectious patients has secured £2 million of committed investment for 2021. Iceni Diagnostics, based in Norwich, expects results from trials of its innovative rapid lateral flow test for Covid-19 imminently.
Advanced discussions are underway with significant public sector and commercial buyers, both in the UK and the US, and the company is set to play a central role in the battle against the virus.
A total of 35 angel and local enterprise investors participated in the funding round, providing £1.3 million of seed capital immediately and a total confirmed commitment of up to £2 million, payable in 2021. The round was led by new investors and also saw over 70% participation from existing investors in Iceni. The investment will be used to build the commercial infrastructure as well as expanding the senior team as they focus on the significant potential within their pipeline of new products.
The Iceni investor group includes New Anglia Capital and the members of Anglia Capital Group. New Anglia Capital – a public sector co-investment fund backed by New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership – has match-funded private sector investment for Iceni since 2018 of approximately £0.25 million.
Prof Rob Field, Co-founder of Iceni Diagnostics, said: “There’s a vast, global potential in the application of our unique technology. We are using it to tackle Covid now, but it will also produce better vaccines and new diagnostic and therapeutic products in the future. The investment we have secured will enable us to attract new talent to the team at Iceni and maximise the significant opportunities we have in our pipeline.”
Hannah Smith, Investment Director of Anglia Capital Group, said: “This was an opportunity for regional business angels to invest in a company with real potential to grow and to make an impact on therapeutics and diagnostics for a series of infectious diseases.”
C-J Green, Chair of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, added: “We’re extremely proud to be working alongside Anglia Capital Group’s angel investors and supporting such a dynamic, innovative business. The technology Iceni is developing promises to put it at the forefront of the battle against Covid-19 and enhance testing for other diseases, such as equine flu. The company’s leading-edge work in this area underlines why Norfolk & Suffolk’s reputation in the field of scientific research is such an enviable one.”
Unlike other rapid Covid tests, Iceni’s technology can identify both influenza and Covid from the same sample and shows whether the live, intact virus is present in patients, revealing whether an individual is actually infectious, or not, within 15 minutes. Many other rapid Covid tests react to any viral genetic material or individual proteins, so can return a positive result even if a patient is not infectious.
Dr Berwyn Clarke, Chairman of Iceni Diagnostics, said: “There is a great investment opportunity here with very strong potential returns. We are matching a unique proprietary technology with massive unmet need in markets around the globe.”
Iceni’s rapid duplex test is currently undergoing trials in the UK including at Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital Laboratories, and discussions are ongoing with Public Health England.
The company is in discussion with a variety of commercial end-users in both the UK and the US, with production underway at a manufacturer in South Wales. It is also working with partners in the US to bring the rapid Covid test to the US market which has been seeing more than 200,000 new cases a day.
Iceni has an exciting pipeline of new diagnostics and vaccines including a transformational stall-side test for equine influenza which will be commercially launched in 2021. It is also pioneering the study of sugars in the body and their application to clinical disease.