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updated 7:31 AM BST, Sep 18, 2014
Technology and life sciences news from the Cambridge cluster

Healthcare investor raises £30m through London IPO

vortex-screen-grabA company led by some of the UK's most experienced healthcare business leaders to exploit university and other healthcare research has raised £30 million though a London IPO to help take two of its portfolio companies through to commercialisation.

Valued at £57.5 million following a 160 pence placing on the London Stock Exchange's AIM, NetScientific will use over half the funds on two of its leading subsidiaries, Wanda, Inc and Vortex BioSciences, Inc, with the rest going on three other spin-outs and the establishment of a head office, believed to be in London.

Wanda and Vortex are both based in California, but many of the company's executive leadership is strongly rooted in Cambridge and the East of England and for the time being is channelling its UK business through St John's Innovation Centre in Cambridge.

Chairman at NetScientific is the former CEO and chair of GlaxoSmithKline, Sir Richard Sykes, its CEO and founder is Dr Farad Azima, co-founder at NXT plc, while the company's CTO, David Gough, was previously one of the founders at Vectura plc and CEO of local biotech investor Avlar Bioventures.

NetScientific identifies, develops and commercialises discoveries coming out of universities, teaching hospitals and research institutes globally, though with a heavy focus on the UK and USA. Its primary focus are five chronic disease areas within the healthcare diagnostics sector: cardiovascular, liver, cancer, metabolic and digital health.

The first step in the NetScientific model is to identify what it believes are promising research projects and technologies that have the potential to be translated from research laboratory to clinical and commercial application.

It then provides funding and funding support and where appropriate, technical guidance and commercial expertise in return for rights over the project IP with the aim of developing each project and IP through the proof of concept stage and towards full commercialisation.

The strongest potential businesses then become portfolio companies with NetScientific typically taking a majority equity interest for which it then aids them through various stages – key value inflection points – such as clinical trials or regulatory approvals before seeking an exit either through trade sale, IPO or licensing deals.

The group's current portfolio contains five standalone subsidiaries, two of which it says are close to key value inflection points and are currently the primary focus of the group, Wanda and Vortex.

Vortex is expected to receive £5.6m for the development of a new platform that uses blood tests for the early detection of cancer. It is based on the isolation and detection of circulating tumour cells (CTCs) from human blood and is designed to enable early detection of metastatic cancer and monitoring of cancer patients during and after treatment.

NetScientific will invest £10m in Wanda, a wireless digital health company that has developed an in-home "virtual patient care engagement system" for the remote management of chronic diseases such as heart failure, hypertension, diabetes and obesity. The technology builds upon a patented predictive knowledge and analytics engine that filters and analyses data collected from in-home monitoring devices used by the patient to allow both real-time and retrospective insight in to a patient's status.

NetScientific will invest a further £12m on three other spin-outs, pipeline activities and a head office. Azima said: "The successful admission to AIM represents an important milestone for the group and we believe that, following our entry onto the market, we can build substantially on our current position.

"We are passionate about investing in transformative technologies and believe we have the best people and network to identify, invest and bring to market innovations that will provide good returns for our shareholders and significant benefits to the healthcare industry."