Spin out from UK publicly-funded research develops novel laser spectroscopy for environmental, medical diagnosis and industrial process monitoring.
UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund and Longwall Ventures have invested £1M in MIRICO, a new company developing laser spectroscopy for environmental monitoring, medical diagnosis and industrial process monitoring. The investment will enable MIRICO to take to market its first products, which include new analytical instruments for trace gas analysis that deliver laboratory-standard performance in a highly compact, field deployable form factor.
MIRICO was formed as a result of more than 10 years’ of cutting-edge research and development at UKI2S partner Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (SFTC), Rutherford Appleton Laboratory Space division. MIRICO’s initial focus is an instrument known as the Laser Isotope Ratiometer (LIR) developed to measure gases on Mars’s atmosphere.
Stable isotope analysis is used in a plethora of applications. In the field of environmental monitoring it provides essential insight into the global carbon, water and nitrogen cycles, the building blocks of life on Earth. In the field of medical diagnosis, measuring the stable isotope composition of breath may enables the identification of disease states offering new non-invasive and fast diagnostic capabilities. In the food and wine industry, stable isotope analysis is used to verify the origins and authenticity of goods.
MIRICO’s technology is a significant improvement over existing devices, enabling high precision trace gas and stable isotope analysis in a compact and rugged unit. The device will be used in a range of applications, from medical diagnostics to better understanding the impact of climate change. MIRICO is already receiving revenues from a collaboration with a US company developing medical diagnostics, and in 2015 the product was successfully trialled with partners at a volcano in Solfatara, Campi Fleigrei, Italy, measuring atmospheric carbon dioxide and stable isotopes.
Today’s equipment for high-precision isotope measurements are large, complex, only suitable in laboratory or controlled environments, and require skilled personnel to operate them. MIRICO’s LIR will allow on-the-spot, real-time analysis, leading to new possibilities and understanding in environmental science, and improving healthcare outcomes by providing a device suitable for point-of-care diagnosis.
“The technology can bring great benefits to current global challenges,” said Mohammed Belal, Business Development Director of MIRICO. “We look forward to working with customers and partners to develop a new range of innovative instruments”.
RAL Space’s Damien Weidmann, Chief Scientific Officer at MIRICO, said: “Because of its highly-demanding requirements, space science research efforts nurture new technologies widely applicable to terrestrial challenges. MIRICO fully exploits that in a creative way. We are planning to explore many sectors with our first product and are looking forward to collaborating with various industries and stakeholders to pioneer the next generation of laser analysers.”
Dr Andrew Muir, Investment Director for the UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund and Director of MIRICO, said “We’re excited about the potential for MIRICO’s technology in a wide range of applications and we look forward to helping the team realise their ambition”.
The company also has the rights to other technologies in laser spectroscopy developed in Dr Weidmann’s group, which have application in other large markets. This investment along with the support of the experienced investors and a newly recruited chairman (John Fuller, formerly of Cascade Technologies) will allow the company to get to critical mass and make an impact on the global stage.
MIRICO Ltd. is a UK-based laser spectroscopy instrumentation company formed in 2015 as a spin-out from the Science and Technology Facilities Council. The technology underpinning MIRICO was developed by the RAL Space Laser Spectroscopy Team, led by Dr Damien Weidmann. The laser spectroscopy team consists of eight senior scientists who carry out cutting-edge research and development. Over the years MIRICO has developed a range of spectroscopy techniques that overcome the major downfalls of current technologies. The company was formed to commercialise and take these technologies to market. For more information, please visit http://mirico.co.uk/.
About UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund
The UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund is an early-stage venture capital fund dedicated to kick-starting technology companies from great science. We focus on companies based on research conducted in publicly-funded laboratories, located on the Research Councils’ science and technology campuses or working in fields of strategic interest to the UK (such as engineering biology). The Fund is backed by nine UK publicly-funded research organisations including STFC, BBSRC, Dstl and NERC and the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The Fund, whose portfolio comprises more than 30 companies, holds investments in some of the UK’s most innovative companies in areas as diverse as novel antibiotics, research into Alzheimer’s disease, “green” chemicals and airport security. The Fund has leveraged more than £190 million of private investment from just under £9 million of its own investment and helped create many high-value technology jobs.
The UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund is managed by Midven, an established venture capital firm with a successful track record of investing in small and medium-sized enterprises. For more information, please visit http://www.ukinnovationscienceseedfund.co.uk.
About Longwall Ventures
Longwall Venture Partners LLP (Longwall) is a specialist start up and early stage investor in UK science and engineering companies. Longwall has £70m under management and has invested in over 35 opportunities to date. The Longwall Partners are hands on investors and have over 15 years experience in working with science and technology companies at all stages of their lifecycle, from start up to exit. Longwall is based on the Harwell Campus. For further information: www.longwallventures.com.