University of Birmingham spin-out lands £800,000 funding boost

The Linear Diagnostics team

Birmingham-based Linear Diagnostics has secured £800,000 from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF) and other investors in the company’s second round of funding.

The finance will help with the ongoing development of the company’s high-speed platform technology for point of care diagnostics. The funding package includes backing from MEIF Equity Finance, managed by venture capital firm Midven, the University of Birmingham and the UKI2S Fund. The UK Future Fund matched the investment from the initial investors.

Linear Diagnostics was founded in 2011 by Professor Tim Dafforn and Dr Matt Hicks as a spin-out from the University of Birmingham’s School of Biosciences. Its diagnostics technology is based on research in linear dichroism, patented by University of Birmingham Enterprise, which uses polarised light to detect the presence of molecules in solutions.

The company has shown strong technical progress since its first investment, achieving clinical levels of accuracy in tests within its lab environment. Initially focusing on sexually transmitted infections (STIs), Linear Diagnostics is developing a rapid test for chlamydia and gonorrhoea. The test will be capable of detecting multiple infections in the same sample in around 15 minutes by labelling each infection indicator with a different coloured dye.

Brendan Farrell, chairman and CEO of Linear Diagnostics, said: “We are very grateful to our existing investors for their continued support and to the UK Future Fund for providing matched funding. The funds received will enable Linear Diagnostics to develop a prototype single use cartridge and reader for our duplex test for chlamydia and gonorrhoea.”

Roger Wood, director at Midven, said: “The requirement for rapid and accurate point of care diagnostics has been brought into sharp focus by the COVID-19 pandemic. There are many other disease areas that could equally benefit from this approach and Linear Diagnostics is making excellent progress with the development of its testing platform. This funding round will enable the company to continue its good work at pace.”

Oliver Sexton, director at UKI2S, said: “Linear Diagnostics’ platform will be able to identify the presence or absence of genetic biomarkers in under 20 minutes. Such rapid gene-based diagnosis is transformative for diseases and disorders that respond to extremely rapid intervention or require diagnosis outside access to centralised laboratory services.”