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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: 2019

Website: Visit website

Location: Sedgefield

Employees: 11

Innovation to Commercialisation of University Research (ICURe)

Funding: Equity: £625k




May 2017

Took part in ICURe

Dec 2018

£150k seed investment from Northstar Ventures and Saker Capital

Dec 2019

£225k investment raised from Northern Accelerator

May 2020

New research lab opened at NETpark Sedgefield

August 2020

£250k Seed Follow On investment led by Future Fund

“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. What it really brought home was that 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, and with our business model honed and validated, 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.”

“We strengthened the team by hiring a business development lead, a head of lab, and a head of marketing in 2020/2021 to shape the company’s direction. Together, they have helped bring a much more commercial focus to the business and helped to drive new sales and foster better connections with industry. We are now able to reach out to a much wider customer base in industry who could benefit from our services.”

“Of course, there’s been challenges. The pandemic meant we had restricted access to the University lab, so we took the decision to move to an external site at NETpark to have more autonomy and independence. At the time it felt like a leap into the unknown, but in fact it was a risk that paid off as we were able to still meet our customers’ deadlines at a time when many other labs were struggling.”

“I would highly recommend ICURe to anyone thinking of taking part. My advice would be to think hard about your value propositions going into it, so that once Bootcamp is over you can hit the ground running and start testing them in the market straightaway. You need to be creative and think about lots of propositions, because you never know what is going to work with the customer until you understand what they really want. That’s the value of ICURe – it’s the ability and freedom to go and talk to so many different people that can help you make your business a success. It is really unprecedented.”

Dr David Weinkove

Dr David Weinkove, CEO
Magnitude Biosciences Limited

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