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09 January 2012

SPARK Impact’s Pathfinder investments enter double figures

Press Release 9th January 2012

The £25m North West Fund for Biomedical, managed by early-stage venture capital firm, SPARK Impact, has made its tenth and eleventh investment in deals worth £100k.

Investing in medical devices firms, ESP Technology Limited and Westco Medical Limited, SPARK has completed a £50k Pathfinder for each.

The £25m North West Fund for Biomedical is part of the £185m North West Fund - an evergreen fund provided by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), to supply debt and equity funding to growing small and medium sized enterprises in the North West of England.

ESP Technology, located in Cheshire, sought investment to undertake further development work on its novel polymer coating designed to improve the lifespan of artificial blood vessels when used for haemodialysis.

CTO of ESP Technology, Dr Chris Underwood, said: "We are extremely pleased to receive this investment from SPARK Impact who have been very supportive of our work. We are now looking forward to being able to significantly move the development on."

The eleventh Pathfinder investment was in Westco Medical and its NG-PoD device which aids in the positioning of nasogastric feeding tubes.

The investment will be used to complete initial prototype and develop a specific plan for the route to market for the device. Work will also be done to map out the regulatory pathway and continue to develop Intellectual Property around the device.

George Gallagher, CEO of Wirral-based Westco Medical Limited, said: "We are really excited to receive the investment which will allow us to get a fully working prototype complete. We expect to have enough data to look at a potential trial within six months and begin the process of CE marking the device."

Dr Penny Attridge, Senior Investment Director at SPARK Impact and manager of The North West Fund for Biomedical, said: "We are pleased to complete investments in ESP Technology and Westco Medical. The work Chris and the team at ESP Technology have done to date is very impressive and the application potential for the product once commercialised both from a patient and commercial viewpoint is significant.

"Westco Medical has developed an excellent concept that addresses a real market need, in an area that has legislative support. The market for the device is extensive and George and the team have all the experience necessary to get this product to market in a very short period of time.

Looking ahead to next year, Dr Attridge adds: "We are still seeing a considerable number of opportunities to invest in and have several deals which will complete before the end of the year. We go into 2012 with a very healthy pipeline and are looking forward to a successful second year of inspiring entrepreneurs in the North West."


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