Sparking change for women’s health: 11 promising femtech start-ups descend on Discovery Park, kicking off 2024 business support programme

The Femtech & Women’s Health edition of ‘Discovery Spark’ champions early stage businesses working to close the gender health gap

 

Sandwich, Kent, UK / 30th May 2024 / Discovery Park, Kent’s thriving life science and innovation community, announced the selection of 11 promising start-ups in FemTech & Women’s Health to join Discovery Spark, their growth and support programme for early stage businesses. 

 

Igniting the growth of businesses solving women’s health challenges, the special female-focused edition of the Discovery Spark programme offers tailored mentoring and support for start-ups, preparing founders for success in investment pitches. The programme kicked off with a session at Discovery Park on 21st May, with more sessions spread over the next seven weeks.  Concluding with Pitch Day on 4th July, the cohort will compete to win a prize package worth over £50K, including 1 year of lab or office space at Discovery Park, alongside invaluable support from specialist partners. 

 

Discovery Park selected FemTech & Women’s Health as the focus of their special edition Discovery Spark programme in response to the Government’s  Women’s Health Strategy, which highlighted the lack of representation in medical research and shortfall in healthcare solutions specifically for women. Despite living longer, the average woman spends nearly a quarter of her life in poor health, compared with a fifth for men. Tacking female health inequalities is a focus for the South East region, with a partnership approach between Discovery Park, Kent and Medway Medical School, the NHS Kent and Medway Integrated Care Board and Health Innovation Kent Surrey Sussex. 

 

Discovery Spark is led by Dr Renos Savva, Head of Innovation at Discovery Park and a recognised scientist, entrepreneur and venture development lead. Speaking about the new programme, Renos said:“Discovery Park is committed to championing the next generation of life science leaders, but even we were overwhelmed with the number of applications received for this edition of Discovery Spark. The 11 selected companies represent the best-of-the-best in new innovations for women’s health, helping to address the ‘missing 52%’ in health equity: Women make up the majority, yet continue to be overlooked in healthcare, with the UK having the largest female gender health gap in the G20.”

 

Companies selected for the Discovery Spark Femtech & Women’s Health Edition includes imphatec, an inventor of a pioneering subcutaneous drug delivery platform which aims to revolutionise the treatment of chronic and long-term illnesses, many of which disproportionately affect and unnecessarily burden women. The company recently went through their first seed round, raising significant capital. 

 

Also included is Hulk Bio, winner of the Scottish EDGE Wild Card award 2024. This biotech is transforming infant nutrition by offering a stem cell-based human milk alternative when breastfeeding is not possible. BodyOwn is aiming to simplify management of female sexual and reproductive health by providing a central point for validated information, care services, and assisted guidance, using tech to set new standards of care for women’s health. Personalised care provider Minter et AI Hormone Health is striving to improve access for women seeking diagnosis and treatment of perimenopause and the menopause, providing consultations and hormone health services both virtually and in-person. 

 

Organised as three immersive sessions held over the summer, Discovery Spark takes place at Discovery Park, Sandwich, and includes overnight accommodation for those taking part. Each session lasts for two-days, covering people, teams and brand, presentation and communication, and business metrics and markets. The programme is run in partnership with Barclays Eagle Labs, NHS Kent and Medway, plus Health Innovation Kent Surrey Sussex. 

 

Dr MaryAnn Ferreux, Chief Medical Officer at Health Innovation KSS, a partner of the FemTech & Women’s Health Special Edition Discovery Spark, said: “Passionate innovators are key to addressing health equity. The Discovery Spark programme exists to champion these promising businesses, along with providing all important networks for collaboration and ideas sharing. At the first Discovery Spark day, our Commercial and Enterprise team led a session on developing and understanding your value proposition. This is critical for all innovators of any stage of development, to help them to recognise the problem that they wish to solve and the impact that they expect their solution would make to systems and patients. We look forward to providing further innovator support as the programme continues.”

 

The 11 companies selected for the 2024 cohort are (listed alphabetically):

 

BodyOwn

BodyOwn is an early-stage start-up dedicated to simplifying women’s management of their sexual and reproductive health journeys. They provide a central access point for validated information, services, and assisted guidance, with privacy and inclusivity at the core.

Founders – Nayol Santos & Ruby Lai

 

Cooden Cosmetics

Frustrated by the significant unmet needs in medicine and inspired by the potential of scientific breakthroughs, this Imperial start-up was founded with a unified mission: ‘To create creams that address these critical gaps.’ Cooden Cosmetics are dedicated to developing innovative solutions that bring real relief and improvement to those who need it most.

Founders – James Millett & Conor Crooks

 

Etre Libre

Creating a Hybrid-Care technology platform which monitors health and wellbeing is an advanced analytics and data modelling platform for the Healthcare market, due to its design it can be utilised in multiple settings. Designed in partnership with Healthcare professionals and victims.

Founders – Katy Longhurst & Alison Mitchell-Hall

 

Hulk Bio

Hulk is transforming infant nutrition by offering a stem cell-based human milk alternative when breastfeeding isn’t possible. Addressing a gap in a $50B+ industry, they provide an option beyond traditional animal milk-based formulas that often fail to meet the compatibility needs of many infants.

Founder – Christina Rode

 

Imphatec

Imphatec has invented and developed a new subcutaneous drug delivery platform to revolutionise the treatment of chronic and long-term illnesses and for disease prevention. This allows patients to be free from the worries of noncompliance and dosing issues, including poor absorption from traditional regular dose tablet medication.

Founders – James Catt & Hassan Morad

 

Joii

Joii is transforming menstrual health management by leveraging artificial intelligence to develop the world’s first mobile application that can identify heavy menstrual bleeding, affecting 1 in 3 women globally. This solution aims to improve early monitoring, treatment, and diagnosis for numerous gynaecological health conditions related to heavy periods.

Founders – Justyna Strzeszynska & Danielle Nader

 

Make your path

Make Your Path is a Digital Health startup with ambitions to improve health and wellbeing through physical activity. It provides a digital platform with a live directory, matching system, and app that supports 1) clinicians to refer patients to safe and targeted non-medicalised activities effortlessly and with confidence to improve physical and mental health outcomes, and 2) employers to promote health and well-being amongst staff, esp. those working in sedentary, desk-based jobs.

Founders – Cindy Regalado & Amit Bansal

 

Minter et AI Hormone Health

Minter et Al is a private healthcare provider specialising in personalised care for women experiencing perimenopause and menopause. The company provides consultations and hormone health services UK-wide via virtual platforms and in-person clinics in Kent and London. Each patient receives tailored services, including bespoke hormone replacement therapies (HRT).

Founder – Lexie Minter

 

Peach

Peach is a new startup founded by four women with a passion for women’s health. Peach aims to increase awareness of pelvic health conditions and will deliver expert physiotherapy care by means of an online platform integrating personalised health coaching, nutrition guidance and biofeedback technology.

Founders – Rebecca Hyman & Naomi Hyman

 

S.M. Discovery Group (SMDG)

SMDG is a pre-clinical biotechnology company with extensive in-vitro and in-vivo data package, designing and delivering safe and effective therapies for some of the most debilitating diseases which impact women. SMDG has developed patent protected therapeutic platforms for targeted delivery of hard to deliver therapeutics across biological barriers and anti-inflammatory modalities.

Founders – Shadi Farhangrazi & Moein Moghimi

 

Young Mums Support Network

The Young Mums Support Network (YMSN) founded by Fiona Small in 2011, is a dedicated Community Interest Company that provides essential support to young mothers. With a focus on empowering these young women, YMSN offers a variety of tailored programs designed to help them navigate through the complexities of motherhood.

Founder – Fiona Small

 

Discovery Park is committed to supporting women in business and innovative organisations transforming women’s health. Contact Discovery Park for more information on business support and investment opportunities currently available.

Community Showcase: Prolight Diagnostics

We had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Aileen McGettrick, Chief Scientific Officer at Prolight Diagnostics, located at Discovery Park. With Prolight entering a phase of rapid growth, we were eager to learn more about their innovative new technology and what it means for the future!

 

 

Can you share more about the technology you are developing and how it will help people?

Prolight Diagnostics is developing a point of care (POC) blood testing system based on proprietary single molecule counting technology capable of detecting extremely low levels of biomarkers in 10 minutes or less.

The technology originated 2018 in start-up Psyros Diagnostics Ltd, of which I’m one of the 4 co-founders. After acquisition of the company by Prolight Diagnostics in 2022 the POC system itself has now been branded Psyros™.

The Psyros™ system consists of a portable instrument and single use disposable cartridge that requires only a drop of blood to perform a test. It has been designed to be simple, easy to use near the patient, with a very competitive low cost. With the ability to multiplex and measure several biomarkers at the same time it has huge potential.

The ambition is to have test results available to doctors within ten minutes to allow rapid diagnosis and treatment when the patient is examined the first time, instead of spending critical time waiting for results from a hospital laboratory. Potential settings include the emergency department (ED), healthcare centres, ambulances, and care homes.

Initially, our cutting-edge technology is being used to develop a diagnostic POC test that measures the protein troponin with high sensitivity and accuracy, to aid in the rule-in and rule-out of heart attack. By measuring troponin, which is released from the heart into the bloodstream during a heart attack, the test helps to make a rapid diagnosis.

The vast majority (>90%) of chest-pain patients presenting to the ED are discharged safely without a diagnosis of heart attack. Tools that can help clinicians rapidly assess patients are of great benefit. The true utility for POC troponin tests is fast, safe rule out of chest pain patients. This has the potential for more efficient resource utilisation in the ED and cost savings for healthcare systems

The lower the detection limit of the system, the more accurately it can measure troponin at the relevant concentrations. This is where Psyros™ single molecule counting system has a strong competitive advantage.

 

 

Why did you choose Discovery Park as your base of operations, and how has the location benefited your company?

We chose Discovery Park initially in 2020 as the four founders of Psyros were all based in Kent. We were looking for a small lab with associated office space that we could expand as the company grew. During those early years, we also wanted to be part of a community with other start-ups and benefit from the support Discovery Park offered for networking and potential fundraising.

After the acquisition of Psyros by Prolight in 2022 we expanded rapidly and now have 20 staff based here and occupy over 5x our original space.

 

 

What recent milestones or achievements is Prolight Diagnostics most proud of?

The product development of the Psyros™ system has been progressing at speed over the last few years leading to many achievements that we’re very proud of.

Our plan is to develop and finalise our platform all the way to a commercial POC system that is ready for clinical validation by the end of 2024.

Key milestones have included proof of performance for our high sensitive troponin assay in whole blood down in the single digit ng/L range, gaining our ISO13485 accreditation and selecting external partners for the instrument and the cartridge manufacture.

Receiving a prestigious NIHR i4i Product Development Award (PDA) early this year for £1.26M was a great achievement and is external validation of the utility of our unique technology. The grant which is in collaboration with among others, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, and King’s College London will help support the final stages of product development through to launch. This includes pilot manufacturing of instruments, initial clinical studies with patient samples, technical file submission and set-up of a patient advisory group.

 

 

How does Prolight Diagnostics stay ahead of the curve in the rapidly evolving field of diagnostics?

Our unique technology opens the possibility of developing new POC tests in a wide range of clinical areas that were previously only possible in specialised laboratories.

Some examples of possible future clinical areas are neuropathology (dementia, traumatic brain injuries), immune system dysfunction (sepsis, autoimmune diseases) and rapid virus detection such as Covid.

 

 

What does the future look like for Prolight Diagnostics, and what exciting developments can we expect to see in the coming years?

We are now ready to initiate studies on both banked clinical samples, and fresh clinical samples in UK hospitals. This includes, as part of our i4i PDA award, testing the Psyros™ high sensitivity troponin assay at St Thomas’ Hospital in London with patient blood samples.

These pre-clinical studies are designed to precede and de-risk our full clinical performance study planned for early 2025. This large performance study will validate the system and generate data for regulatory approval in Europe. The launch of our first product, the Psyros™ high sensitivity troponin assay, will follow in 2026.

Troponin is only the start, Psyros™ is a platform technology capable of measuring many other biomarkers in blood. The unique technology and multiplexing capabilities will make it possible to test a range of biomarkers with high sensitivity and accuracy on a single POC instrument.

Vice-Chancellor’s Business Games 2024

Are you someone who enjoys friendly competition? If so, we invite you to join our Discovery Park Team for an exciting opportunity to participate in The Vice-Chancellor’s Business Games with Canterbury Christ Church University.

  • Polo Farm Sports Club
  • Thursday, July 4
  • 11:30 – 16:00

These games offer a fun and inclusive platform for industry professionals to come together, compete, network, and foster a sense of camaraderie. Plus, by joining, you’ll be supporting CCCU’s chosen charity, the Kent MS Therapy Centre.

Best of all, it’s completely free to participate! Hurry, as spaces are limited. #JoinUs #TeamDiscoveryPark

Interested? contact: Lauren Moore

For more information

Achieving product market fit

As a versatile tech leader with experience as a founder and operator in some of the world’s fastest growing tech companies, Andy Robinson, Accelerate Cambridge and Barclays Eagle Labs mentor, will discuss how to ensure your product satisfies a strong market demand. He’ll look at how to design your journey towards achieving this important fit.

Register here

ClimateTech: Telling your climate tech business story

Explore practical ways to showcase your business and successfully create emotional connections with your target audience. Expect to come out of this session energised with plenty of ideas about how to communicate the core messages at the heart of your business. Our guest speaker will take you through practical examples of storytelling and how to engage your audience.

Register here

Senior Research Scientist

Company Description

DLOC Biosystems is a biotechnology company that is researching organ/tissue on-a-chip technology to provide the most accurate drug development strategies by growing the most inbody mimetic organ models on-chip. It takes $2.6B and 12 years to develop one successful drug because 90% of drugs fail at the late and expensive clinical trial stages. The reason is that preclinical results do not determine the clinical trial failures because tissues grown in the lab do not resemble the tissues in the body. DLOC’s innovative technology has the potential to make drug discovery 50% safer and 40% faster and cheaper. DLOC is achieving this aim by creating patented organ-on-chip devices, automated operating systems, and AI-powered real-time control and data analytics. The devices can grow tissues with microenvironments that resemble in vivo human tissues, where drugs can be tested and their therapeutic index can be better predicted.

Role Description and Key Activities

• Conduct research experiments to model an organ-on-chip for oncology drug testing.
• Carry out standard molecular biology and biochemistry methods with minimal supervision.
• Assist in identifying and characterising experimental models under the guidance of experienced research staff using organ-on-chip devices with minimal supervision.
• Uses laboratory/computer equipment to conduct analyses data of experimental data and present findings to senior staff.
• Present data-supported conclusions in written and oral reports on progress and assist in the development of an intellectual property strategy, including the creation and submission of patent applications.
• Effectively conduct and manage experimental data analysis and interpretation and make appropriate recommendations based on the results.
• In coordination with the company team, perform experimental work following the procedures generated by the R&D team, provide guidance, and supervise the work tasks of less experienced colleagues.
• Work effectively with a multidisciplinary science team to formulate and execute integrated research plans.
• Prepare suitable health & safety documents and ensure they’re in place before work commences.
• Ensure that all company policies and safety practices are followed.
• Work in accordance with the Company Health and Safety Policy, including guidance relating to the use of human tissue (HTA), developing, reviewing, and updating Standard Operating Procedures, COSHH, Safe Systems of Work documents, and risk assessments relevant to their role and in accordance with instruction or training received.
• Maintain and actively pursue continual professional development.

This document outlines the duties required at the current time and indicates the level of
responsibility. It is not a comprehensive or exhaustive list and may vary to include other
reasonable requests.
Essential Qualifications
• Hold a Ph.D. in molecular biology, cancer biology, toxicology, or similar field with preferably
1-5 years relevant industry or research experience in oncology. Ph.D. / Post doctoral
students with relevant experience may be considered.
• Experience in working with mammalian cell culture, preferably using 3D models.
• Experience in working in an environment with laboratory-based research.
• Experience in collaborative working in a relevant environment to achieve team objectives.
• Ability to work using own initiative and to resolve day-to-day issues.
• Excellent organisational skills and the ability to prioritise to deliver high-quality output to
deadlines.
• Clear written and oral communication skills.

Desired but not essential
• Detailed and extensive knowledge of theory and practice related to the areas of skills
relevant to the project (organ-on-chip devices and/or other 3D cell culture models
toxicology studies, PK/PD studies)
• Good knowledge and understanding of GLP standards.

Ability
• Strong results-driven personality.
• Strong commercial awareness and profit-driven motivation.
• High level of enthusiasm, energy, and confidence
• Excellent analytical, communication, organisational and presentation skills
• Work precisely according to procedures, rules and regulations.
• Languages: English, additional languages are a plus

Package
• Up to £45,000 on a full-time basis for the right candidate
• Stock options at the discretion of the Board.

 

Process and timescales
The closing date for the applications is June 15, 2024. Interviews will be held during the week of June 17.

Please send a CV/resume with a cover letter to – wadah@dlocbiosystems.com

Kent Construction Focus Group

The Kent Construction Focus Group (KCFG) is a one-stop-shop for local businesses to discuss the future of Kent development, giving companies access to local knowledge, expertise and contracts. KCFG promotes the future role of Kent land development and construction businesses in the growth and development of Kent and its environment.

Enjoy a selection of breakfast baps and pastries served along with hot/cold beverages at Discovery Park, served from 8.30am with an anticipated finish of 10.30am.

Register here

Community Lab Open Afternoon

We’re opening our doors for the afternoon on Thursday 6th June, 1 – 4pm  to give you the opportunity to see what we have to offer.

  • Come and have a look in our labs and the equipment we have for use
  • Have a chat with our team about how we can help you
  • Refreshments will be available

Please contact nv96@canterbury.ac.uk if you are interested.

Science Jamboree 2024

This valuable event was designed to bring science to children, to excite and inspire so they were encouraged to study science during their secondary education. Every student that experiences the delights of the Science Jamboree could be the next scientist of the future and without them, the pharmaceutical industry would not be able to continue with the work of discovering and developing medicines for patients the world over. We’re proud to host the event in it’s 29th year at Discovery Park.

Contact us