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Magnitude Biosciences: Accelerating research to aid drug discovery and industrial R&D

Magnitude Biosciences: Accelerating research to aid drug discovery and industrial R&D

Magnitude Biosciences is a specialist Contract Research Organisation (CRO) which is pioneering the use of the tiny nematode worm  C. elegans, to accelerate early pre-clinical drug development for biotech and pharma and to assess the toxicity and impact of compounds on health and longevity for other industries including consumer goods, health and nutrition products, and agri-manufacturing. Their C. elegans studies are highly customised and delivered by a team of expert scientists employing a unique automated imaging technology. The benefits of their services are clear for customers across industry and academia alike, enabling access to tools and expertise not available in-house to these organisations to generate high-quality, reproducible data and answer key research questions.

Magnitude Biosciences: Accelerating research to aid drug discovery and industrial R&D


Start date: 2018

Website: Visit website

Location: Sedgefield

Employees: 16

Innovation to Commercialisation of University Research (ICURe)

Funding: Grant: £500k Equity: £1,125k


June 2016

BBSRC grant awarded to team members at University of Durham

May 2018

Took part in ICURe

September 2018

Company formed

October 2018

£25k grant from Northern Accelerator Business Development Manager (0.5 FTE)

November 2018

£150k seed investment from Northstar Ventures and Saker Capital LLP

November 2018

IP licenced from University of Durham

September 2019

£225k investment raised from Northstar Ventures and Saker Capital LLP

May 2020

New research lab and offices opened at NETpark, Sedgefield, County Durham

August 2020

£250k Follow On Fund convertible loan acquired from the UK government’s Future Fund, Northstar Ventures and Saker Capital LLIP

November 2021

Dr Sally Waterman appointed as Chair of the Board and NED

September 2022

£49k grant awarded from Northern Accelerator Scale Up Fund

October 2022

Dr Fozia Saleem appointed as CEO

October 2022

£250k investment from Northstar Ventures and Saker Capital LLP, Conversion of Future Fund loan in to equity

March 2023

Grown the team to 16 people

April 2023

£250k investment raised from Northstar Ventures and Saker Capital LLP

April 2023

£250k grant awarded by InnovateUK Investor Partnership scheme

May 2023

Total revenue (ex. VAT) passes £1m

Dr David Weinkove, CSO of Magnitude Biosciences who undertook the ICURe training says:

“We’d thought about commercialising our research, but it wasn’t until we were referred to the ICURe programme by Durham University’s Tech Transfer Officer (TTO) that I really understood how helpful this programme could be. The principle behind it is brilliant – it’s the fact that you don’t just push your technology on to the world you actually find out what the world wants and what it needs first. That was a critical concept that was really useful for our company.”

“The opportunity that we had to go out and travel the world and speak with potential customers was unrivalled, we really needed to understand what our customers’ challenges were. The ways in which we were proposing to use C. elegans in the market was a totally new concept. When you have a new approach like this, it’s not enough just to tell people that it really works. You have to get under the skin of those industry consumers to understand their challenges and work with them to provide what they actually need. ICURe allowed us that opportunity to refine our offering.”

“ICURe made it clear to us that whereas we had thought we might sell the technology as a piece of equipment, in fact what the industry required was our technology as a service as a Contract Research Organisation, as to be used successfully, customers would need to tap into our team of C. elegans and life sciences experts. That validation then led us to reconsider other sectors that we should be targeting such as nutrition consumer goods, and green manufacturing.”

“Following ICURe, we successfully pitched for funding from the Northern Accelerator. The money allowed us to hire our now COO, John O’Brian – who brought with him experience of the fundraising landscape to help us with the commercial aspects. With his support, we approached local investors and were successful in receiving several offers, from which we were then able to choose two. This really started us on the path to where we are today.”

Dr Fozia Saleem, CEO of Magnitude Biosciences who joined the team in 2022 says:

“I joined the company in 2022 and my remit is to grow the business into different market sectors and increase the revenue. It’s now all about scaling up on the sales front, and expanded service offering as well.”

“Our WormGazer™ technology allows us to image the worms over a set period, we have a number of different assays that we commercialise. And we are working on another four new services that we’re developing that should be offered to our clients, by the end of next year.”

“We have grown the team to 16 employees, and we will have added 3 more by June 2023. Recruitment is  a challenging factor for us, we do struggle to attract people as we based outside of the city. We’ve got a fantastic, dedicated team. The community around us are very helpful with each other, we all share networks and suppliers, and help each other out wherever possible.”

“We are thrilled to have been awarded a grant of nearly £250,000 from Innovate UK that has been matched by our current investors. This £500,000 will enable further automation to be introduced to our innovative imaging technology WormGazer™ allowing us to implement high throughput screening to identify drugs that could slow ageing or prevent age-related diseases. At the moment, our processes are very labour intensive, so it costs more, which prevents us from being able to give our clients a better price point.”

“We plan to scale up over the next few years, raise more funds and expand our offering to meet clients’ needs. Subsequently, there will be two further options for the company – to be acquired or grow organically as a company.”

Dr Fozia Saleem

Dr Fozia Saleem, CEO
Magnitude Biosciences Limited

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