A group of successful Bristol-based entrepreneurs has invested £192,500 into a research and development project in the city that is searching for faster diagnosis and treatment of Sepsis, which is the number one cause of death worldwide.

Sixteen members of Bristol Private Equity Club have backed GenomeKey, which is carrying out the pioneering research programme in Bristol. The investment will enable GenomeKey to leverage additional grant funding.

The move will create six new jobs over the next few months as GenomeKey ramps up its work at the Future Space Microbiology Laboratories in Stoke Gifford, Bristol.

Michael Roberts, co-founder and CEO of GenomeKey said: “This local backing is vital for us as it provides match funding for other grant money that will help us solve this global healthcare problem.

“We are developing an automated device that uses Artificial Intelligence for analysis. Our diagnostic device will provide answers within hours, not days. This is important because sepsis kills people very quickly, so faster and targeted treatment can potentially save millions of lives.

“GenomeKey’s device will diagnose bacterial presence using DNA sequencing and novel machine learning to provide clinical results to the clinician within hours. Current techniques that involve growing a culture, can take days and even weeks to provide a result.

“Once perfected our technology will save lives, save money and save our antibiotics for the future when we really need them.

“We expect the research to take between four and five years and this investment brings us closer to securing all the funding needed. Ultimately we expect to develop a benchtop device for hospitals that will replace today’s blood culture.

“We have already interviewed for two of the new positions and will be appointing soon. The project has been moved to a combination of home-working and on-site research in our biohazard safe laboratories.”

One of the investors, Dr Johnathan Matlock, chemist and experienced investor in science projects, will join the project as Board Observer.

Bristol Private Equity Club (BPEC) has now invested around £8 million in local start-up and scale-up businesses since it was founded four years ago and now has over 100 members.

Jerry Barnes, who founded BPEC, said: “Sepsis has been named on more death certificates than Covid-19 in the last year. It is fantastic to see pioneering work being carried out in Bristol that could be exported all over the world.

“We have continued to see strong investment by successful entrepreneurs in the area, backing Bristol ideas and innovation.”