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30 October 2014

£120,000 investment leads infection control product to success

"The team at SPARK are effectively an extension to ours, advising us and ultimately guiding our strategy as we pursue the next exciting phase of growth.”

ASep Healthcare

Liverpool-based company ASep Healthcare is going from strength to strength after receiving a £120,000 equity investment from The North West Fund for Biomedical, managed by SPARK Impact.

ASep started life as an Imperial College London spinout company. It specialises in the development and marketing of fit-for-purpose infection control care products in the healthcare sector. Central to its success has been its first product - Tournistrip - which is a single-use, cost-effective tourniquet for taking blood or inserting a cannula into a vein for blood access. Some tourniquets are re-useable but the Tournistrip is unique because it is disposable which helps to prevent contamination passing from one patient to another, reducing the spread of MRSA and other hospital acquired infections. It is estimated that a tourniquet is used 60 million times in the UK each year alone.

The company, founded by Ryan Kerstein and Christian Fellowes and now chaired by Alan Edwards, started selling the product in 2010. The Tournistrip is primarily used across NHS hospitals and is listed and stocked by the NHS Supply Chain who supply Tournistrip to around 200 hospitals across the country.  

The business was further bolstered in 2013 when The North West Fund for Biomedical invested in the company to focus its efforts on commercialising the product.

Speaking about what the funding has enabled ASep to do, chairman Alan Edwards said: "We took on full time sales staff, set up a base at Liverpool Science Park and were able to explore and start export opportunities to the US, EU and Far East. It also allowed us to get our UK and Ireland partner on board - Iskus Healthcare - who will be working with us
to increase sales. The investment from SPARK has also enabled us to explore developing other products."

These include innovative new blood pressure cuffs which use magnets rather than Velcro which can be difficult to clean. The cuffs are now in the final stages of being tested at the Department of Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital and will then go into manufacture.

Another product set to launch before Christmas is the 'Eezy Flush' which enables people with arthritis or disabilities, or children, to easily operate the modern 'push button' toilet cisterns.

Alan continued: "The investment really helped to kick start our commercial activities and we're delighted to be in such a strong position now as a market leader in disposable tourniquet provision to the NHS. The team at SPARK are effectively an extension to ours, advising us and ultimately guiding our strategy as we pursue the next exciting phase of growth."

The company is now expecting to reach £1m in revenue and shipping many millions of Tournistrips by December 2014. The success does not stop there as ASep is also involved in exporting the product to several EU countries and as far as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Nepal and Singapore.

Dr Andy Round, investment director at SPARK Impact, said: "When we met ASep we could see the very real potential of the technology as infection control is a sector which is becoming increasingly important in the NHS. It has been a delight to work closely with the company to help give them the guidance, support and investment to be able to grow the business into the success it is today."


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


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