Healthy prognosis: UK medtech is making a global impact

Envy of the world’s medtech community? With its world-class research base, companies leading the pace of innovation, and its highly skilled engineering talent, the UK is a natural home for high-potential medtech.

When it comes to creating high-quality jobs, digital health, drug delivery and single-use technology are all growing strongly.

There’s more than 3,700 companies in the UK medtech sector. The vast majority of them are small to medium-sized enterprises, together generating sales in excess of £21bn a year. And they are exporting their products and solutions, raising global health standards for billions of people across the world.

This week, the 100 Stories of Growth campaign focuses on two UK scaling medtech champions. And they’ve got the intellectual and financial capital for a very healthy prognosis.


Sphere Fluidics scales its pharma success

Cambridge-based Sphere Fluidics helps pharmaceutical companies discover new potential blockbusters thanks to its groundbreaking cell-analysis systems.

And its compelling intellectual capital has helped the company raise £16m of financial capital and grants in eight years, says CEO Frank Craig.

At first the company planned to market services to drug companies’ hungry R&D departments. But it became clear a new approach was needed.

So Sphere Fluidics changed from marketing service contracts to selling actual machines. And working with a specialist manufacturing partner accelerated the scale-up process.

It would have taken years and cost about £40m to build our own factory, but we were able to leverage external partnerships and get the product to market fast.

The company has sold its Cyto-Mine® platform in the EU, Asia and the US. It plans to sell to more than 500 customers all over the world with each unit costing $450,000. And this year’s income is set to grow by around 300%.

Already looking to launch another product – a desktop genome-editing machine – Craig’s team of 26 is looking to roll out a second flagship product.

Though it will cost “around £10m” to build, he believes there is a global market worth several hundred million pounds. [Read the Sphere Fluidics story]


Sky Medical Technology is improving global health outcomes

It’s been a long and challenging journey for Sky Medical Technology. But perseverance pays off. The High Wycombe-based, revenue-generating company produces disruptive medtech solutions that are improving health outcomes and saving lives in many countries.

So far, exports make up 95% of the company’s sales. And founder and CEO Bernahrd Ross says he expects the company to be distributing to 60 countries by the end of 2018.

Ross says that waiting for his products to gain NHS approval has taken time. The company received positive guidance from The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and conclusive product trialling with the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough. But though it took some time for the products to gain traction across the UK, it’s a long-term play.

That’s why patient capital means more than one thing in UK medtech. Sky Medical Technology’s latest investment round, which raised £22.7m, showed how the Enterprise Investment Scheme is ideal for long-term investments.

EIS provides significant advantages over venture capital, which can be less long-term-value-focused.

Deepbridge Capital and Juno Capital led the investment round, followed by a consortium of international corporates.

“EIS is an inspirational government intervention,” says Ross. He believes that raising the current lifetime cap for companies from £20m to £40m or £50m would have significant further advantages still for the UK. [Read the Sky Medical Technology story]

Join the 100 Stories of Growth campaign as we continue to explore how fast-growth companies are using financial, human, intellectual and emotional capital to successfully scale.
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