Scottish bio-tech uFraction8 secures £2.5m commercialisation investment

A Scottish biotech engineering company developing innovative bio-separation instruments for pharmaceutical and food manufacturers, has secured over £2.5m in new investment to further commercialise its solution. The successful fundraise, secured through a combination of private equity investment and grants, will enable Falkirk-based uFraction8 to expand its existing facilities, grow its team, scale its technology, and deploy large scale tests with prospective customers.

With a vision of making sustainable manufacturing with biology affordable, uFraction8’s bio-separation instruments are designed to enable more efficient engineering of bio-based products including microalgae-based foods, mammalian cell-based drugs, or yeast-based products such as beer or medicines. The company’s cutting-edge technology harnesses the power of microfluidics to enable gentle separation of cell-based products from liquid in which they are grown.

Founded in 2017, uFraction8 has progressed from a lab scale prototype to a mini-industrial demonstrator, currently being used for the customer trials. Its innovative technology offers many advantages compared with the current market offering including extremely low-shear forces which protect the cell integrity during processing and, unlike other existing solutions, a unique ability to work with highly viscous media.

The company was co-founded by Dr Brian Miller and Dr Monika Tomecka, a winner of the 2018 AccelerateHER Awards for exceptional female business founders. Following her success in the programme, Monika attended market-building AccelerateHER trade missions to the US, Dubai and Germany to further build uFraction8’s global profile.

In 2019, the company opened a fully-owned subsidiary in Poznan, Poland which was awarded a major grant last year from the National Centre for Research and Development in Poland. This support allowed the Polish subsidiary to open new facilities and employ a team of designers and engineers to boost the speed of uFraction8’s technology development.

Over the last five years, uFraction8 has also supervised two PhD candidates, five Master students and several interns from renowned British universities and formed key partnerships with renowned research organisations such as National Physical Laboratory to further develop its technology.

This latest investment round was led by Thia Ventures alongside fellow FoodTech investors Blue Horizon and EIT Food, with additional funding from a London-based angel investor. Abel Rossignol and fellow Thia Ventures investor Bart Van Hooland will now join uFraction8’s board. The round was also supported by Scottish Enterprise and global research group Leave a Nest, which also selected uFraction8 for the Grand Winner Award at its TECHPLANTER UK 2017 demo day. Additional grant funding was secured from European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) and Innovate UK.

Abel Rossignol, investment director at Thia Ventures, said: “We are delighted to be backing Monika and Brian to help further commercialise uFraction8’s offering. The bio-manufacturing revolution still requires enabling technologies to deliver its full potential to improve downstream processing optimisation in areas like precision fermentation, cell-based approaches, or micro-algae platforms. We believe uFraction8’s technology has the potential to deliver these much-needed improvements at a viable scale.”

Friederike Grosse-Holz, director at Blue Horizon, commented: “uFraction8 is gearing up to provide the technological step changes that are required to unlock low-cost, large-scale production of animal cells and micro-organisms for food applications. We believe its innovative approach will enable more efficient bio-manufacturing that is crucial to a new, sustainable food systems.”

Dr Brian Miller, co-founder of uFraction8, said: “We are excited about this successful investment round and the new partners supporting our mission to produce the best-ever microscale liquid-solid separation systems. Thia Venture and Blue Horizon are ideal partners which share our goals and values and we look forward to closely working with them to achieve long-term success on this journey.”

Fellow uFraction8 co-founder, Dr Monika Tomecka, added: “This significant investment, along with the immense and highly successful bio-manufacturing sector track record of our new partners, will enable uFraction8 to grow faster than ever before. Our entire team is excited and ready for the hard work ahead in taking the business to the next level and beyond.

“We remain open to further collaboration opportunities that will support our aim of promoting our cutting-edge technology across global markets.”

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