A biotech company with a product that helps to heal eye injuries and could revolutionise treatment of other wounds has raised a further £1.8m.
Nottingham-based NuVision Biotherapies has secured funding from the MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund, which is managed by Mercia and part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund, Mercia’s EIS funds, Newable Ventures and private investors.
The latest funding round – the fourth to date – brings the total raised by the company to almost £5m and will allow it to expand sales and carry out further clinical trials in the run-up to a Series A investment in 2022.
NuVision’s technology harnesses the healing properties of amniotic membrane, the sac that surrounds babies in the womb and is normally discarded at birth. Created using its proprietary manufacturing process, its first product Omnigen is already used in eye surgery to help heal wounds faster.
The company’s latest innovation, OmniLenz, is a ‘bandage contact lens’ which allows Omnigen to be applied without surgery in outpatient clinics to treat a wider range of conditions. It is currently being trialled by Aston University for use in dry eye disease, which affects over 5 million people in the UK and is the most common cause of visits to eye care practitioners.
NuVision’s technology also has potential to treat other wounds, in particular diabetic foot ulcers, which are a growing problem that affects over 10 million people worldwide. NuVision, a University of Nottingham spin-out company, was founded in 2015 by its CSO, Dr Andy Hopkinson, to commercialise his research.
Rob Bennett of Mercia, which has backed the company since its inception, said: “Since our initial investment in 2015, NuVision has achieved significant milestones and is now well placed to take advantage of market opportunities in the treatment of both chronic and acute eye disease. In the longer term, its technology could be adapted for other applications and has the potential to revolutionise woundcare.”
Newable Ventures invested in the company’s seed fundraise in 2019, and has followed on in this round. Avantika Gupta of Newable Ventures said: “Newable has been impressed by the strength of the NuVision technology and its unique disease modifying capability, we are delighted to continue to support them on their scale-up journey.”
Ken Cooper, Managing Director at the British Business Bank, said: “We’re delighted to see this latest round of investment, with continued support from the MEIF, enabling another business in the region to gear up for future growth. Now more than ever, the MEIF is ready to fund Midlands small businesses as they drive the region’s economic recovery and we’d encourage any businesses seeking investment to look at the options available through the fund.”
Sajeeda Rose, Chief Executive of the D2N2 LEP, said: “I’m pleased to see continued investment by the Midlands Engine Investment Fund in key and growing sectors in the region, which will support our economic recovery and growth. This investment will support NuVision’s long-term ambition and grow its pioneering technology for wider use in the healthcare market which is a priority sector for the D2N2 region.”
Amy Woodfine and Philippa Webster of 3volution provided legal advice to the company while Zickie Lim and Katharine Robinson of Mills & Reeve advised Mercia.
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.
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About Mercia Asset Management PLC
Mercia is a proactive, specialist asset manager focused on supporting regional SMEs to achieve their growth aspirations. Mercia provides capital across its four asset classes of balance sheet, venture, private equity and debt capital: the Group’s ‘Complete Connected Capital’. The Group initially nurtures businesses via its third-party funds under management, then over time Mercia can provide further funding to the most promising companies, by deploying direct investment follow-on capital from its own balance sheet.
The Group has a strong UK footprint through its regional offices, 19 university partnerships and extensive personal networks, providing it with access to high-quality deal flow. Mercia currently has c.£800million of assets under management and, since its IPO in December 2014, has invested over £96million into its direct investment portfolio. Mercia Asset Management PLC is quoted on AIM with the epic “MERC”.
The Group raises its own Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs) and Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) Funds and details about open offers can be found through Mercia’s website.
Mercia Asset Management PLC is quoted on AIM with the epic “MERC” and includes the following wholly owned subsidiaries –
- Mercia Fund Management Limited is authorised and regulated by the FCA under firm reference number 524856
- Enterprise Ventures Limited is authorised and regulated by the FCA under firm reference number 183363
- EV Business Loans Limited is authorised and regulated by the FCA under firm reference number 443560
About the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF)
The Midlands Engine Investment Fund will invest in Debt Finance, Small Business Loans, Proof of Concept and Equity Finance funds, ranging from £25,000 to £2m, specifically to help small and medium sized businesses secure the funding they need for growth and development.
The Midlands Engine Investment Fund is operated by British Business Financial Services Limited, wholly owned by British Business Bank, the UK’s national economic development bank. Established in November 2014, its mission is to make finance markets for smaller businesses work more effectively, enabling those businesses to prosper, grow and build UK economic activity.
The Midlands Engine Investment Fund is supported by the European Regional Development Fund, the European Investment Bank, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and British Business Finance Limited, a British Business Bank group company.
The MEIF covers the following LEP areas: Black Country, Coventry & Warwickshire, Greater Birmingham & Solihull, Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, The Marches, and Worcestershire in the West Midlands; and Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham & Nottinghamshire (D2N2) Greater Lincolnshire, Leicester and Leicestershire, and South East Midlands in the East Midlands.
The project is receiving up to £78,550,000 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.
The funds in which Midlands Engine Investment Fund invests are open to businesses with material operations, or planning to open material operations, in, the West Midlands and East & South East Midlands.
The British Business Bank has published the Business Finance Guide (in partnership with the ICAEW, and a further 21 business and finance organisations). The guide, which impartially sets out the range finance options available to businesses and provides links to support available at a regional level, is available at www.thebusinessfinanceguide.co.uk/bbb
- The British Business Bank is the UK government’s economic development bank. Established in November 2014, its mission is to make finance markets for smaller businesses work more effectively, enabling those businesses to prosper, grow and build UK economic activity. Its remit is to design, deliver and efficiently manage UK-wide smaller business access to finance programmes for the UK government.
-  of finance to almost 94,800 smaller businesses. Since March 2020, the British Business Bank has also launched four new Coronavirus business loan schemes, delivering almost £73bn of finance to around 1.6m businesses.
- As well as increasing both supply and diversity of finance for UK smaller businesses through its programmes, the Bank works to raise awareness of the finance options available to smaller businesses. The British Business Bank Finance Hub provides independent and impartial information to businesses about their finance options, featuring short films, expert guides, checklists and articles from finance providers to help make their application a success.
- In light of the coronavirus pandemic and EU Exit, the Finance Hub has expanded and it now targets a wider business audience. It continues to provide information and support for scale-up, high growth and potential high growth businesses, but now provides increased content, information and products for businesses in survival and recovery mindsets. The Finance Hub has been redesigned and repositioned to reflect this, during this period of economic uncertainty.
- British Business Bank plc is a public limited company registered in England and Wales, registration number 08616013, registered office at Steel City House, West Street, Sheffield, S1 2GQ. It is a development bank wholly owned by HM Government. British Business Bank plc and its subsidiaries are not banking institutions and do not operate as such. They are not authorised or regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). A complete legal structure chart for the group can be found at www.british-business-bank.co.uk
 Figures as at end of June 2020
2 Figures as at 28 January 2021