Innovative medical firm raises £500k in backing from investors

A REGENERATIVE medicine company that is developing a cell therapy product for conditions such as diabetic foot ulcers has raised over £500,000 from investors.

ascVersa is an early-stage spin-out from Queen’s University specializing in “visionary” technology for vascular regeneration.

In its second seed round, it has raised the money from Co-Fund NI, managed by Clarendon Fund Managers; QUBIS, the commercialization arm of Queen’s University; the Innovation Investment Fund, and angel investors from the Halo & Business Angel Network.

In February the company announced it had received an Innovate UK Biomedical Catalyst grant for an £800,000 project to develop its Angicyte technology.

The firm said it would use the proceeds of the latest seed round to accelerate the development of Angicyte, which helps the healing process by making new blood vessels, leading to improved blood supply.

Cell therapies are gaining recognition as a groundbreaking way to treat diseases. VascVersa is coordinating research in centers in Belfast, London and Edinburgh to develop its new cell therapy.

The first target is “chronic non-healing wounds” which includes diabetic foot ulcers.

However, the potential of the technology to treat other vascular diseases is being explored.

Chief executive Christina O’Neill said: “This investment is a significant milestone for VascVersa.

“It will enable us to accelerate development of our first product for diabetic foot ulcers and also develop our technology for other vascular diseases.

“I’m extremely grateful to all our funders for their invaluable support throughout VascVersa’s development.”

Aidan Courtney, chairman of VascVersa, added: “We have received tremendous support from our investors and Queen’s University Belfast which will allow the company to expand its Belfast research facilities and develop new products based on its groundbreaking technology.” Stuart Gaffikin, investment manager at Clarendon Fund Managers, said Co-Fund NI was “delighted” to support VascVersa.

Oisin Lappin from the Innovation Investment Fund said: “The visionary technology Christina and the VascVersa team are bringing to market will have a lasting impact on patients’ lives.

“This funding round alongside the Innovate UK support will help support them in this journey.”

David Moore, investment manager at QUBIS, said he was also delighted to help the VastVersa team to build on the Biomedical Catalyst award through the funding round.

VascVersa has said it’s committed to regenerative medicine in order to bring profound improvement to the lives of people suffering from ischemic disease.

Dr O’Neill is a specialist in vascular biology, working in the area as a postdoctoral scientist at Queen’s for over a decade.

Mr Courtney has spent over 20 years establishing and building companies in life science and other technology sectors.

In 2016 he co-founded Roslin Cells, a provider of stem cells and developer of new cell therapies.

He restructured Roslin Cells to create two separate spin-out businesses and subsequently became CEO of Censo Biotechnologies.

Earlier this year the company was aiming to hire a research scientist to help develop cell therapies.

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