Biotech start-up to step up work on insect-borne diseases after $1.5m boost

Hogan Bassey

A US biotechnology start-up, which has its European base at Sci-Tech Daresbury’s Innovation Centre, has received a $1.5m funding boost.

LivFul will use the financial injection to further expand its work saving lives from malaria and other insect-borne diseases.

The latest fillip is from a management led investment round.

LivFul’s major markets are now opening up following the pandemic, with interest in its enhanced insect repellent ramping up. LivFul is currently focusing its business development initiatives on Australia, the US, Uganda, Nigeria, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Its patented STAYTEC technology enables the production of next-gen insect repellents. The environmentally-friendly product delivers the unique combination of long-
lasting (14 hours) protection with a smooth lotion like feel.

LivFul focuses on communities in low and middle income countries where more than 600 million people suffer from insect-borne diseases every year. A child dies from malaria every two minutes and other diseases such as dengue fever to yellow fever, Lyme disease and Zika virus take a heavy toll on humanity, and often lead to a cycle of poverty.

While nets, residual spray and traditional repellents help fight off the insects that cause these diseases, these solutions offer only temporary, localised protection, or can expose a family to chemicals that are inhaled or absorbed into the skin. It is LivFul’s mission to enable access to a tech-enabled insect repellent that fits seamlessly into daily routines in the areas most at risk.

LivFul has also recently piloted a modular manufacturing programme in Ghana, which has since been expanded to Nigeria. The programme allows local social entrepreneurs to operate as a micropackaging and distribution franchise, creating job opportunities while helping to improve the wellbeing of their community.

A similar project is being piloted in Brazil, in which local entrepreneurs can build a saleable business in partnerships with manufacturers that will help build more resilient supply chains while getting solutions into the hands of people who need them via distributors and hospitals.

The company’s recent growth has also seen a series of new roles created at its Daresbury base, where it has expanded its presence within the Innovation Centre from two members of staff to eight since its arrival in 2019. The existing operations team in the lab now has the additional support of an operation and quality manager. At the same time, a revamped marketing team has settled into the Innovation Centre with a global marketing manager, a content marketing associate, and a project manager working hand in hand with a brand manager based in Brazil.

Hogan Bassey, LivFul chief access officer, said: “This latest investment round will help us realise the repellent opportunities we had pre-COVID. It will also help us add more products to our portfolio and begin to transition our business model in a unique way that brings systemic change into life sciences.

“If standard quality medical products have a tough time getting to the health care systems in low and middle income countries, how in the world will new innovation? We envision a model that can do both. We’re reimagining the currently ecosystem so that as we disrupt everything, we continuously invite established companies to join us in this new way of thinking.”

John Leake, business growth director, Sci-Tech Daresbury, said: “Hogan and his team at LivFul are a true Sci-Tech Daresbury success story. This latest investment round is just rewards for an innovative company that marries an acute sense of business knowhow with an irresistible zeal to make the world a better place.”