News story

UK bioprocessing firm acquired by GE Healthcare

Puridify acquisition follows support from Innovate UK and research councils to develop purification technology for next-generation biotherapeutics treatment.

Close up of medical microscope. Credit: freedarst at Shutterstock.

Bioprocessing startup Puridify has been acquired by GE Healthcare, part of major US conglomerate General Electric.

All 17 employees of Puridify – which is based at Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst – will join GE Healthcare’s life sciences business. The team will remain at their current location, which will serve as a small research hub for bioprocessing.

Improving bioprocessing to deliver new treatments

New possibilities are emerging to use next-generation biotherapeutics in the treatment of illnesses such as haemophilia, Parkinson’s and cancer.

However, the purification process for these therapeutics is extremely challenging because of their complex structures.

Puridify is developing a nanofiber-based platform purification technology for biopharmaceutical production called FibroSelect. This technology should improve productivity and cost-effectiveness of process development and small-scale manufacture in a wide range of biopharmaceutical applications.

The new deal with GE Healthcare will help further move Puridify’s technology towards commercialisation.

Grants to support research and development

Puridify has received significant research and development support from Innovate UK and the research councils over the years.

It received 2 grants totalling just under £3 million through the Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst, with funding coming from Innovate UK, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

Working with University College London (UCL), this funding allowed Puridify to test and validate the technical feasibility of its technology for industrial applications.

In addition, the company has received 3 further grants from Innovate UK worth more than £611,000, with another in the pipeline to develop its FibroSelect platform for bespoke viral vector purifications.

About the company

Puridify was officially formed in 2013 as a spin-out from UCL, by Oliver Hardwick, CEO and Iwan Roberts, COO.

The idea for the technology started with an EPSRC-funded engineering doctoral project in bioprocess engineering leadership, which was thought up by UCL’s Professor Dan Bracewell and Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Professor Bob Stevens. From the outset it was intended that the technology would have industrial application, leading to an initial patent filing in 2012 to support the commercial opportunity.

Establishment of the company was conducted under a Royal Society of Edinburgh Enterprise Fellowship, supported by the STFC.

De-risking the investment proposition

Commenting on the support received, Dr Oliver Hardwick said:

Business skills training during our bioprocess leadership EPSRC-supported EngD’s at UCL gave us both confidence and contacts to consider commercialising our research.

Innovate UK funding represented external technical validation of the underlying technology and demonstrated we had considered the commercial exploitables and route to market. This de-risked the investment proposition for our first venture capital round, whilst providing a framework for us to collaborate with our future customer base.

The collaborative approach to innovation – bringing academic partners together with a venture capital backed SME, combined with end users – has facilitated a rapid transition from academia to industry.

The output of this allowed us to demonstrate a strong case for inwards investment into Puridify, and its UK-based research, through acquisition, and to facilitate the commercialisation of the significant supporting infrastructure that’s needed for global supply a product for high-value manufacturing.

The research councils, Innovate UK and Research England will become UK Research and Innovation on 1 April 2018. Visit UK Research and Innovation’s website to find out more.

Published 7 December 2017