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29 July 2014

Liverpool University spin-out secures funding for veterinary devices

"Our future plans include working closely with our veterinary surgeon customers to provide the next generation of animal implants."

Fusion Implants web

Dr Dan Jones, General Manager at Fusion Implants

Fusion Implants, a spin-out from the University of Liverpool, has developed a surgical implant to cure lameness and restore mobility in dogs. Earlier this year, the company received a six-figure investment from The North West Fund for Venture Capital, managed by Enterprise Ventures.

The Liverpool-based business was launched in March 2013 to produce veterinary implants using the latest 3D printing techniques. The company brings together Dr Chris Sutcliffe and Dr Dan Jones from the School of Engineering and their colleagues Professor John Innes, Mr Rob Pettitt and Mr Ben Walton from the School of Veterinary Science.

Their new device, for use in canine knee reconstructions, is already being sold to veterinary practices in the North West and will be launched nationally within the coming months. Fusion Implants will use the funding to roll out its current product, employ a design engineer and finance new product development.

Rupture of the canine cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) remains the most common orthopaedic problem seen in veterinary practices around the world and can cause knee pain and lameness. CCL surgery involves a portion of bone being removed from the tibia to allow the restructuring of the angle of the knee joint, which is subsequently held in place by an implant.

The Fusion Implants team have devised a way to manufacture high-performance veterinary implants from titanium using 3D printing, or additive manufacturing as it is also known. Fusion Implants' technology - which is covered by extensive patent protection throughout Europe, the USA, Canada and Australia - allows the mass manufacture of porous titanium material. This enables the animal's bone to grow into the implant, forming a natural bond and improving performance considerably.

Dr Jones, General Manager, said: "The use of 3D printing gives greater design freedom than conventional manufacturing techniques and also allows us to combine solid and porous sections for optimum strength and biological performance. The University of Liverpool has been very supportive throughout the whole process and securing finance from The North West Fund will allow us to develop the product further.

"Our future plans include working closely with our veterinary surgeon customers to provide the next generation of animal implants. In particular we will be working on a range of hip implants to suit specific breeds."

Doug Stellman of Enterprise Ventures, which manages The North West Fund for Venture Capital, said: "3D printing is a disruptive technology which could radically change supply chains in many industries, not just the medical sector. It is important that the North West, with its strong manufacturing heritage, takes full advantage of this new technique. Working
closely with the region's universities and providing companies, like Fusion Implants, with finance to invest in new products and equipment is a key part of that."

For more information about how you may be able to access funding for your new business please visit http://www.thenorthwestfund.co.uk/funds/venture-capital

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