Biogelx eyes global growth after cash injection

University of Strathclyde spin-out Biogelx has secured a £630,000 cash injection to help fund its overseas expansion.

David Lightbody: Its a very exciting time for Biogelx

The firm, which makes “hydrogels” for growing cells to be used in drug discovery and toxicology screening, is also planning to double its headcount within the next year.

Launched in 2012 and based at the BioCity Scotland life science incubator in Lanarkshire, the company aims to make further inroads into the US market in the wake of the funding round, expanding its recently-established New York office.

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Chief executive David Lightbody said: “It’s a very exciting time for Biogelx as the company takes its first steps in to the global market. Since inception, we have received invaluable support from BioCity Scotland and they has really provided us with a springboard to success. Key to our success will be to build-upon our achievements at BioCity so we’re delighted to expand this team further here.”

David Lightbody: Its a very exciting time for Biogelx

The company’s gels, which mimic the behaviour of tissues and organs found in the body, do not contain animal-derived materials and can be “tuned” to match different cell types. As well as applications in cancer cell research and toxicity screening, the gels can be used as a replacement for animal testing.

Biogelx employs seven people and Lightbody said that figure was set to grow to 14 after attracting funding from the Scottish Investment Bank, Jonathan Laredo of Peak Capital Advisors, the University of Strathclyde and Gabriel Investments, which backed its spin-out three years ago.

Stuart MacKenzie, commercialisation infrastructure manager at the University of Strathclyde, said: “We welcome this latest significant step towards establishing Biogelx in the cell culture market and allowing the spin-out to develop further markets in stem cell and possible future therapeutic applications.”

Kerry Sharp, head of Scottish Investment Bank, added: “Scotland boasts some of the world’s most exciting and innovative early stage life sciences businesses and we are focused on helping them realise their potential through strategic investment and support services.

“We’ve been working with Biogelx for over two years, and this follow-on investment will enable them to accelerate international business reach and further develop their technology.”

As well as targeting the US market, Biogelx – which was voted “pitch of the day” at last year’s Engage, Invest, Exploit (EIE) investor forum in Edinburgh – has been expanding its customer base into Italy, Korea, Portugal and Spain.

The firm is currently attending a global biotechnology convention in Philadelphia with the Scottish Council for Development & Industry. The event, which wraps up tomorrow, is billed as the world’s biggest biotech gathering, featuring more than 1,700 exhibitors.

BioCity Scotland managing director Diane Harbison said: “As one of our first tenant companies, we have worked with Biogelx every step of the way to foster their remarkable success.

“It’s the access to expertise, finance and a community of like-minded people [at BioCity] that really nurtures spin out companies and helps them to achieve such a high success rate. This is case and point for Biogelx as it begins its journey as a market leader.”