£3.5m seed funding for life sciences company set to ‘revolutionise’ drug discovery

A Manchester life sciences company which is developing technology to accelerate the development of enzyme biocatalysts, has secured seed funding from the investment vehicle chaired by Lord O’Neill.

Imperagen will use the £3.5m seed round of investment led by IQ Capital and Northern Gritstone, to support the development and validation of its ultra-fast enzyme engineering platform.

Its ambition is to initially target its novel enzyme products at the manufacture of complex drug molecules, with the longer-term aim of developing enzymes for applications ranging from laboratory tools to enzyme replacement therapies and drug delivery systems.

Chemical manufacture is a multi-trillion-dollar global industry and green biocatalysts, rather than hazardous metallic catalysts, are at the centre of the next industrial revolution, making processes cleaner and more efficient, significantly reducing both raw material waste and costs.

The IP-rich firm is a spinout from the University of Manchester led by serial entrepreneur Dr Andrew Almond, who co-founded Conformetrix, now listed on AIM as C4X Discovery.

The company’s enzyme products will enable new green processes, ‘revolutionising’ old manufacturing routes by reducing use of raw materials, energy, and harmful by-products.

IQ Capital is the leading deeptech venture capital firm based in London and Cambridge that invests in early-stage deeptech businesses using hard-to-replicate technology in massive global markets.

Northern Gritstone is a new investment business focused on university spinouts across the North of England, founded by the Universities of Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield.

Dr Andrew Almond, founder and CEO of Imperagen said: “Our world-leading technology will be at the very forefront of revolutionising the frustratingly slow process of enzyme engineering and solving the sustainability crisis.

“Imperagen aims to shrink a process that typically takes years to months and fit into the tight window of opportunity required during chemical manufacturing scaleup. The exceptional support provided by IQ Capital and Northern Gritstone is central to realising this vision.”

Ed Stacey, Managing Partner at IQ Capital said: “Imperagen is an incredibly exciting company at the forefront of modernizing legacy industrial manufacturing processes.

“The company’s several technology breakthroughs have the potential to accelerate development of biocatalysts by many orders of magnitude, unlocking environmentally sustainable processes across multiple trillion dollar industries. We have deep conviction in Imperagen’s vision, technology, and potential impact for the planet.”

Northern Gritstone CEO Duncan Johnson added: “Imperagen’s technology has the potential to transform drug discovery by speeding up the process by which enzymes are developed and reducing its environmental impact.

“The company is an outstanding example of the innovative spinouts in life sciences currently emerging from universities in the north of England. These are exactly the kinds of companies which Northern Gritstone was created to support as they develop their propositions and scale up.”