Oxford: Diagnostics company raises £12.3m for new range of tests

Sense Biodetection, the diagnostics company which operates from bases in Oxford and Cambridge, has raised £12.3 million to develop a new range of tests, initially targeting infectious diseases like flu.

The company has secured a £10.5m Series A investment from a consortium including Cambridge Innovation Capital (CIC), Earlybird, founder Jonathan Milner and its existing investor Mercia. It has also received a grant of £1.8m from Innovate UK.

Sense is focused on the development of instrument-free molecular diagnostics, which represent the ultimate flexible test format and are aimed at transforming the industry by delivering for the first time, true point-of-care molecular testing.

The company’s products will allow rapid tests for viral and bacterial pathogens, such as those causing respiratory infections or sexually transmitted diseases, to be performed within minutes in doctors’ offices, pharmacies or community facilities, ensuring more timely treatment and management of infections.

Mercia first invested in 2016 and has taken an active role in helping to shape the business Peter Dines, Mercia’s head of lifesciences and biosciences, who has significant experience in building lifescience companies, has worked closely with Sense, helping to shape the strategy and build the board and management team. In 2018 it appointed Heiner Dreismann, the president and CEO of Roche Molecular Systems, as chair.

Sense CEO Harry Lamble said: “With the support of an exceptional new investment syndicate and continued support from Mercia, Sense is positioned to become first-in-class and best-in-class in the exciting new field of instrument-free molecular diagnostics and to realise its vision to transform healthcare through decentralisation.”

Peter Dines of Mercia said: “We believe that Sense has created a truly disruptive platform for real point-of-care molecular diagnostics. We have worked closely with the company from the early stages. Mercia remains a highly supportive investor and we look forward to watching the company disrupt the market and create significant shareholder value.”