17thJun 2011

The Idea / Product

Attomarker Ltd was formed in 2009 to exploit photonic biosensor array technology developed in the laboratory of Dr Andrew Shaw at the University of Exeter. The technology is based on the way light interacts with metal surfaces using a property known as localised Surface Plasmon Resonance to detect very low levels of biomarkers within a whole blood sample. Biomarkers are molecules present in the body that can provide indicators of general health, specific infections or susceptibility to chronic diseases. The company is developing a compact, robust, low cost instrument capable of simultaneously measuring up to 100 such biomarkers in a sample of whole blood within 15 minutes.

Our vision is that one day a patient will be able to go to the GP, give a small blood sample and, whilst the GP is assessing their symptoms, a series of tests will make a diagnosis, providing a dynamic profile of the immune system. The impact on society could be enormous; the test could tell precisely which antibiotic to use and whether the immune system is ready to fight an infection. The test results may also help in screening for chronic diseases such as Alzheimer's or MS or assess the health of patients who are unconscious.

How RKT Helped

The Research and Knowledge Transfer office at the University of Exeter helped prepare and file the patent applications underpinning the technology development, supported Dr Shaw in the formation of Attomarker Ltd and in obtaining subsequent investment and grant funding for the company. The University introduced the company to its strategic development partner in the Medical Technology Transfer market, Exomedica, who made a small investment in the company and has taken responsibility for the onward business development.


The company has been awarded grant funding of £62K from the southwest regional development agency and has attracted inward investment of £40K from Exomedica. The project looked at the low-cost potential of the array design. Subsquently the University and the NHS have invested in a clinical trial to test the immune system profiling protocols Dr Shaw's research group is currently performing the clinical trial to test the immune system protocols required for the first market product. The trial has acquired £28K of funding from the University and the NHS and will report data in the first quarter.

The team

Chief Executive Officer

Dr Mark Fisher has been involved in the commercialization of technology since the successful exploitation of his PhD, which was licensed to Dade-Berhing, now acquired by Siemens. Working in both the public and private sectors Mark has made the transition from biotechnology to the medical sector through experiences in a broad range of technologies covering diagnostics, surgical equipment, medical imaging and implants. Bringing his expertise in to play and the ability to relate hard science to the business sector, Mark has successfully licensed a number of technologies and helped establish and raise funds for almost 20 technology businesses in the last 10 years, including Exomedica Ltd of which he is a founding Director. Mark is also a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Management Consultants that seeks to disseminate best practice in management activities and set standards within the profession.

Chief Technology Officer

Dr Andrew Shaw, was educated at Cambridge, Southampton and Stanford prior to the Exeter where he is Associate Professor of Physical Chemistry. He has already founded one company from his research group in 2002 which was sold for £4M in 2007. He has considerable expertise in management of multi-million pound projects including £5m for the Home Office, £3M Basic Technology research grant and now as Chairman of Arkiris, a University Knowledge Transfer Account award for £3M to seed the commercialisation opportunities in the field of tailored electromagnetic materials.