Biotech company raises £2.25m for new spinal treatments

A biotech company which is developing new treatments for patients with serious spinal conditions has completed a £2.25m funding round led by Mercia Asset Management to help to continue its ground-breaking research and bring its first products to market.

Locate Bio has secured the investment from Mercia’s own balance sheet, its EIS fund and the MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund, which is managed by Mercia and part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund, and the Future Fund.  Together with earlier funding rounds from Mercia and MEIF, it brings the total raised by the Nottingham-based company to over £8m.

Locate Bio’s first product, which is at the pre-clinical development stage, will help patients who require spinal fusion surgery, where bones are permanently joined together to overcome low back pain. It uses a type of bone protein to remove the need for a bone graft. Its second therapy will be for the biological renewal of the intervertebral discs and will help those suffering from degenerative disc disease, a painful condition affecting 33 million people in the US and EU.

Locate Bio is a spin-out from the University of Nottingham and based on the research of Professor Kevin Shakesheff, a world-leading expert in regenerative medicine. The company, which initially started out as a contract research organisation, first received investment from Mercia in 2018.

John von Benecke, CEO of Locate, said: “I am delighted by the continued support of our lead investor. This investment will allow us to maintain the excellent progress with our lead product and further the development of a pipeline of synergistic products.”

Dr Ian Wilding, Chairman of Locate said: “This investment comes at an important time for the Company as it enters an exciting phase. Despite the uncertainty and disruption that COVID-19 has brought to so many industries, the Locate team have relentlessly executed against its aggressive timelines and the additional funding announced today is a welcome validation of the progress that has been made.”

Peter Dines, Chief Operating Officer of Mercia, said: “We are very pleased to continue to support John and the team at Locate. Their lead product has the potential to disrupt a $3bn market, and we remain excited by the prospect of helping to build a world-leading business.”

Ken Cooper Managing Director, British Business Bank, added: “We are pleased that the MEIF Proof of Concept fund has been able to support further investment into Locate Bio.  Along with the bank’s other programmes the MEIF funds are investing to support SMEs in the region and are still very much open for business. This second round of funding recognises a business which has continued to make good progress despite the difficulties caused by Covid 19.”

The Midlands Engine Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank