The Bristol Private Equity Club (BPEC) has invested £113k of the £500k that Zentraxa, a University of Bristol spin-out biotech company, requires to take the fledgling business to the next stage of development.
A spin-out from the University of Bristol’s Synthetic Biology Research Centre, Zentraxa was formed in 2017 and is commercialising Zentide, a unique manufacturing process to produce biological adhesives for use in sectors including healthcare.
Zentraxa is already in partnership talks with a global healthcare company and now wants to take its products and manufacturing processes past the feasibility stage and start testing them in the real world.
“We’re developing both a manufacturing process and our own bio-materials that are highly effective adhesives. Both these technologies are based on processes found in the natural environment, making it more environmentally-friendly and sustainable than other petrochemical derived products currently being used,” said Martin Challand, Chief Technology Officer at Zentraxa.
“With investment in place, the focus for the coming months will be optimisation of our Zentide process from lab to pilot scale, which will allow more accurate product costing, providing improved business focus and customer traction.”
After announcing they were looking for a £500k investment to allow continuation of their development work Martin and his team were introduced to BPEC, which is made up of 80 business experts and entrepreneurs keen to work with Bristol technology firms and help them thrive and grow.
Jerry Barnes, one of BPEC’s founding members, said: “We are always looking for investment opportunities with innovative Bristol-based businesses with the potential for rapid scale up and Zentraxa is a perfect example of that.
“Even though Martin and his team come from a scientific, rather than business, background they have proven themselves to be gifted entrepreneurs with an ambitious vision to make take their product to the global marketplace.”
In six months to 31 March 2019, BPEC invested £1m in seven deals, including Zentraxa. In three years BPEC has invested a total of £4.6m in 14 Bristol-based businesses and has seen its own membership swell from 49 members in 2016 to 80 today.
“We see lots of applications for our biological adhesive products,” continued Martin Challand. “We are initially focusing on the healthcare sector and applications such as wound dressing where our biologically derived adhesives show many benefits sticking materials to skin.
“But, as we progress, there are lots of possibilities, especially as more and more industries look towards environmentally-sustainable solutions like ours.”
He added: “This is a crucial stage in our development and we are delighted to have the Bristol Private Equity Club on board as we progress past the feasibility stage and onto proving that our technology can be a global leader.”
Jerry Barnes added: “Bristol has an excellent eco-system for tech-minded start-ups and university spin-offs with truly world-class businesses being produced.
“We are always keen to hear from the city’s technology entrepreneurs to see if there is any way we can provide the investment they need to scale up and take their businesses to the next level.”