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ScubaTx: Breathing new life into organ preservation

ScubaTx: Breathing new life into organ preservation

ScubaTx is an advanced organ preservation system using cutting edge technology. The ScubaTx™ device will leverage world-leading expertise in software design to commercialise a proven but unexploited organ preservation technique, persufflation. In doing so, ScubaTx is able to offer healthcare providers significant net savings, and so help clinicians around the world to increase the pool of life-giving organs.

ScubaTx: Breathing new life into organ preservation

FACT FILE

Start date: 2016

Website: Visit website

Location: Newcastle

Employees: 6

Innovation to Commercialisation of University Research (ICURe)

Funding: Grants: £500k

KEY MILESTONES

2016

Designs for persufflation machine finalised

2017

First prototype constructed

March 2019

Took part in ICURe

September 2020

Innovate UK Northeast Angel R&D grant: £300k

October 2020

ERDF intensive industrial innovation programme grant: £92k

October 2020

North East Learning Partnership grant: £24k

“From 2016 we had been working on a technology called persufflation and had progressed as far as single centre safety trials. Often, at meetings we would have health centres coming to us asking how they could get this technology into their health care systems, but at that point we had no way of providing it. The team and I came together at Newcastle University to look at other kinds of medical devices and organ preservation machines, and to understand what works and what doesn’t. We knew we wanted to engineer a machine that could deliver the persufflation technology to meet the clear clinical demand”.

“We started on the ICURe programme in 2019, with me as the Principal Investigator (PI), in parallel with securing initial funding for research. This allowed us to send our Early Career Researcher (ECR) all over the world to speak with more than 160 people working in healthcare systems to give us critical vision into how they each operate globally. We needed to learn all of those perspectives to know exactly what the end users wanted, so that as we progressed our designs, everything met the demands of the real-world environment. To get that insight at that early stage was invaluable”.

“After finishing ICURe we continued our development activities and started speaking with investors. The university commercialisation team helped us to identify our weaknesses and as a result Phil Andrews (now CEO) and Toby Clark (now CFO) joined the management team as angel investors. Previously Phil had led two medical device companies to exit, and Toby has a background in investment banking; bringing them both on board filled some missing areas of expertise in the important commercial and financial aspects of the business. We then worked with the university commercialisation team to spin out”.

“The benefit of adding to the management team has undoubtedly brought about new investment, but also given us new perspectives and different levels of understanding. Having never spun out before, it’s invaluable for me to have people on the team who have ‘been there, done that’ before, who can sense check decisions and allow us to learn lessons internally versus the hard way in the market. It’s also a new skill to learn to ‘speak investor’ as a language. The broad brushstrokes of the company have remained the same, but we are now more targeted, more strategic and more investible”.

“We’re already about two-thirds of the way through a £1.8m funding round, despite the headwinds that the pandemic has brought. We are aiming to have a product to market by 2025. We’ve been able to reach out to people that we talked to through ICURe or who are interested in taking this forward clinically for phase one trials, and they will help us structure those trials and share clinical data to help us move towards our goal”.

Dr Bill Scott

Dr Bill Scott, CSO
ScubaTX

SETsquared is a partnership between

  • University of Bath
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Southampton
  • University of Surrey