Northern Gritstone funds X-ray specialist in its first ‘spin-in’ deal

A company behind ultra-efficient X-ray detector technology has received funding from investment vehicle Northern Gritstone, in its first ‘Northern spin-in’ deal.

Northern Gritstone is funded by the universities of Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield to help boost the commercialisation of university spinouts and start-ups in the North of England and is chaired by one of the architects of the Northern Powerhouse Lord Jim O’Neill.

It has invested an undeclared sum in Silveray, which was originally founded at the University of Surrey in 2018 by Prof Ravi Silva, and then relocated to Greater Manchester in 2022 to gain access to the North of England’s rich talent pool and resources.

In particular, the company has worked closely with X-ray specialists at the University of Manchester to develop its innovative direct conversion detectors.

The company is led by Dan Cathie, who has more than 20 years’ experience in the technology and semiconductor sector, five of which were spent as CEO of developer of image sensors for X-ray applications, vivaMOS, which he guided through its full start-up lifecycle from a spinout until it was acquired by Nordson Corporation in 2020.

At Silveray, Dan is supported by an experienced team including co-founder and chief scientific officer, Prof Ravi Silva, and chief technology officer, Dr Stephen Whitelegg.

Silveray is commercialising a new type of highly sensitive direct X-ray conversion material with a wide range of applications from industry to healthcare.

Invented in the UK, the new nanoparticle-doped semiconductor material is significantly more efficient at picking up X-rays than the conventional alternatives, so fewer X-rays are needed to deliver the same image quality. This means imaging can be done more quickly for industrial applications and with lower radiation exposure for healthcare patients.

The funding will enable Silveray to continue expanding its team, establish its technology into dedicated premises in Stockport and initiate product development.
Silveray’s initial product development focus will be detecting undesirable inclusions within steel tubes using high-energy X-rays, working in collaboration with Tata Steel UK. The collaboration is partially funded by Innovate UK, a public body that supports business-led innovation.

Dan Cathie said: “Northern Gritstone’s investment will help us to build on the momentum of last year’s seed funding round, adding the insight and support of another high quality investor. We are looking forward to accelerating the development of our technology and hope to have our first demonstrator products available to leading customers by end of the year.”

Duncan Johnson, CEO of Northern Gritstone, said: “Silveray appeals to us not only because it has the potential to modernise the X-ray imaging market, but because it has chosen to do so by relocating to the North of England so that it can harness the world-leading resources that the region offers.

“The company’s decision highlights the appeal of the North of England’s thriving innovation to early stage businesses and we look forward to seeing Silveray contribute to this as it brings its first products to the market.”