Praetura Ventures co-lead Liverpool ChiroChem £2.25m funding round

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Chemical tech company secures £2.25m investment to accelerate growth (TheBusinessDesk)

A Liverpool-based chemical technology company that is helping in the fight against dementia, cancer and respiratory illnesses has secured £2.25m in a funding round led by the VC firms Deepbridge Capital and Praetura Ventures.

Liverpool ChiroChem (LCC), the developer and manufacturer of chemical components that are critical to the research and development of new drugs, also saw investment from NPIF – Maven Equity Finance, managed by Maven and part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.

LCC is a chemistry-based contract research organisation (CRO) that produces and supplies chiral small molecules to the global pharmaceutical and biotech research and development sector. Its goal is to accelerate the discovery and development of new drugs across multiple therapeutic areas including dementia, cancer and respiratory conditions.

Led by Dr Paul Colbon, the business supports a global customer base from its research and development headquarters in Liverpool and its manufacturing facility in Taizhou, China. Recent client wins include two of the world’s top five pharmaceutical companies.

LCC has also announced a number of senior appointments and the launch of a new scientific advisory board that will help maximise the commercial impact of the chemical components LCC develops. With more than 25 years’ experience in senior management across multiple sectors, Stuart Noble joins the business as CFO and will work alongside Dr Paul Colbon and his management team on the next stage of LCC’s growth strategy. They will be supported by industry heavyweight Dr Jason Tierney, who has joined to chair the scientific advisory board. Jason played a leading role in the design of multiple screening libraries for companies such as GSK, that allow new drugs to be discovered and developed.

Dr Paul Colbon of LCC said: “Last year we saw a record number of newly approved drugs hit the market and this new injection of capital and support will really allow us to accelerate production and distribution capabilities. Despite the current challenges facing businesses worldwide, we have been able to pivot our business model to make the most of our time working remotely. In the UK we have been able to invest time into the design and planning of future experiments, while our manufacturing facility in China is once again fully operational.

“This would not have been possible without the commitment of our team and the continued support of our partners. We have a world-class team in the UK and China that are working extremely hard to unlock new chemical space that will underpin the development and discovery of new drugs and I’m looking forward to working together as we embark on the next phase of our growth journey.”

With renewed support from its investment partners, LCC now plans to increase investment in its facilities in Liverpool and China, continue to recruit the best-in-class talent so it can expand its research and development activities to accelerate production and ensure its international client base has the chemical compounds needed to make new drug discoveries.

Dr Savvas Neophytou, a partner and head of life sciences at Deepbridge Capital, added: “LCC was a pre-seed investment in 2014, since then we have led each funding round and have worked closely with its management team on refining its business plan, upskilling and generating defensible positions to facilitate its future growth. We are pleased with the progress that the team continues to make with regards to the discovery and commercial production of novel chemistry.

“One of the rewards when supporting growth-focused companies is witnessing this growth and success. Our funding of LCC is a great example of how the Enterprise Investment Scheme allows private investors to access early-stage growth opportunities they otherwise may not have exposure to.”

Dr Andy Round, director and life sciences specialist at Praetura Ventures, said: “We’ve worked closely with Paul and his team for the past three years and have been pleased to see the progress the business has made. It has invested heavily in its manufacturing facility in China to meet the demands of the international pharmaceutical sector, and by bringing on board some of the best scientific minds the business can continue to evolve activity in a way that accelerates the development of new drugs.

“As a partner, we always look to invest more than money and we’re looking forward to supporting Paul and his team as they enable their clients to bring new ground-breaking drugs to market at speed.”

Since 2019, Praetura Ventures has raised more than £22m to invest in early-stage business in the North and across the UK. Its current portfolio includes AI and machine learning business, Peak and online delivery platform Sorted. Other recent investments include Patchwork, a rapidly growing healthtech start-up on a mission to solve the NHS staffing crisis and SteamaCo, a technology provider to energy suppliers in emerging markets.

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