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13 February 2014

Fusion Implants wins funding for veterinary devices

Press Release 13th February 2014

A Liverpool-based company which has developed a surgical implant tocure lameness and restore mobility in dogs has received a six-figure investment from The North West Fund for Venture Capital, managed by Enterprise Ventures.

Fusion Implants, a spin-out from the University of Liverpool, 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.

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 allows 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. 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."

Fusion Implants will use the funding to roll out its current product, employ a design engineer and finance new product development. It is the second 3D printing business that The North West Fund for Venture Capital has backed in recent weeks. The Fund, which is financed jointly by the European Regional Development Fund and the European Investment Bank, also invested in FDM Digital Solutions, a business based in Burnley, Lancashire which is using 3D printing to create made-to-measure insoles for the NHS.

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. Providing companies with finance to invest in new products and equipment is a key part of that."



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