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CYTOSEEK RAISES £1.1 MILLION FOR NEW CELL THERAPIES
November 2019

A Bristol-based company that is developing new cell therapies to treat cancer has raised £1.1 million in funding.

CytoSeek, a new spin-out from the University of Bristol, has been backed by a number of organisations as Bristol becomes recognised as a centre for biotechnology.

The funding has come from ten local entrepreneurs, who are all members of the Bristol Private Equity Club; the Venture Capitalist fund UKI2S and the University of Bristol Enterprise Fund managed by Parkwalk.

CytoSeek, based at the Unit DX incubator in St Philips, Bristol has developed a cell membrane augmentation technology and will be applying this for new ways to tackle cancer. The process involves modifying a patient’s own immune cells to “supercharge” them against cancer cells.

Professor Adam Perriman, who is Professor of Bioengineering in the School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine (University of Bristol), and founder of CytoSeek, said: “At the moment cell therapies of this kind are only used in the treatment of cancers in the blood, such as leukaemia. We are looking at ways that cell therapy can also be used for solid tumours, which are responsible for 85% of cancer related deaths. To do this we have developed a protein-based cellular paint that can be put on cells to improve their cancer-killing performance.

“In the last three years Bristol has created an incredible environment for the clinical translation of science to biotechnology, and it is fantastic to have local financial support. This funding will help us to rapidly accelerate the pre-clinical validation of the technology, which will help get it to the clinic faster.

Jerry Barnes, founder of Bristol Private Equity Club, said: “Ten of our members have put their money and business expertise behind CytoSeek as biotech businesses like this need the financial backing in their early years to enable them to make progress.

“It is exciting that work going on in Bristol today may lead to breakthroughs in treatment that could benefit people throughout the world in the future.”

Oliver Sexton, Investment Director of UKI2S, said: “UKI2S was the founding investor in CytoSeek supporting its early growth and following again in this latest round. We’re excited about the potential to improve efficacy across a range of immuno-oncology therapies.”

Keith MacDonald, Chairman of CytoSeek, said: “We’re pleased to have closed our latest investment round so quickly – now our research team can focus on bringing this important science to the clinic. Getting the backing of local angel investors and national venture capital funds is a real boost – these seasoned entrepreneurs know a promising business when they see it. CytoSeek’s deep tech will make a real impact in medicine.”

Issued on behalf of Bristol Private Equity Club by Empica

SECOND CASH INJECTION HELPS WOMEN’S FITNESS ENTERPRISE STEP UP TO NEXT LEVEL
November 2019

A second cash investment from Bristol Private Equity Club (BPEC) has helped a South West entrepreneur roll out the next phase of her women’s fitness business.

Mel Bound, Founder and CEO of fast-growing brand This Mum Runs, has secured a £100,000 investment to help launch the first in a series of apps aimed at supporting and encouraging mums worldwide to be happier and healthier through regular exercise.

Since its launch in 2014 This Mum Runs has built a community of over 80,000 women. The business already offers hundreds of free runs a month in 50 locations through a team of specially trained Run Angel volunteers, has a growing programme of in real life coaching to support women who are new to running, and a stylish range of running and leisure apparel for mums and kids.

Currently operating in 12 UK cities, with teams ready to launch in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Denmark in early 2020, Mel has global aspirations for This Mum Runs and the new app is all part of that plan.

“The latest investment from BPEC has meant we are able to launch our Run30 coaching app and put TMR programmes in the hands of Mums worldwide in a matter of months rather than years,” said Mel.

“We’re mainly targeting women who have never run before, but also those who have lost confidence since having children, mums who perhaps did a bit of exercise before children but not much since.

“The Run30 app will provide an eight-week programme suitable for all abilities, will be packed full of inspiring content as well as access to an online community of women with the same goals. We’ll even help our new members to launch their own This Mum Runs communities in their local area when they complete the programme. The eventual goal is to build a This Mum Runs community in every city in the world.”

The business first attracted investment funds from BPEC in 2018 when it received £156,000 to scale-up its community and expand the apparel range.

Mel says the almost overnight success of the venture meant that a cash injection was vital in maximising the initial flood of support.

“It all started with a desperate Facebook post. I had a nine-month-old son and a four-year-old daughter and with the pressures of work and motherhood, I’d been completely inactive exercise-wise for years. I asked if anyone wanted to meet up for a run and 75 mums turned up!” Mel commented.

“After that word-of-mouth took over and around eight weeks in, hundreds of mums were showing up. I realised there were a lot of women feeling like this and the seed of an idea took shape.

“The investment from BPEC allowed us to grow the ecommerce side of the business and we now ship to 31 countries.

“The main bulk of the investment however was spent on growing our incredible team who bring with them a wealth of experience from brands like Headspace and Nike – experience that will be vital as we continue to expand the business.”

Jerry Barnes, Bristol Private Equity Club, founding member said: “We were extremely impressed with how This Mum Runs utilised the initial investment.

“The ethos behind the community business paired with the eye-catching apparel designs and Mel’s focus and determination made it a no-brainer to invest again. Twelve members came together to provide the £100,000 and we’re looking forward to watching the business flourish in coming months.” Cook Corporate Solicitors acted for BPEC in the deal. BPEC we now has 80 successful entrepreneurs and business people from the Bristol area with capital to invest as club members. In three years the club has invested more than £6 million into 19 different businesses.

Issued on behalf of Bristol Private Equity Club by Empica

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