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6 February, 2006 - 17:52 By Staff Reporter

Sphere takes AIM with 2006 float target

Sphere Medical, a company with the real potential to revolutionise hospital care for their sickest patients is the latest East of England company to announce plans for a 2006 IPO.Sphere Medical, a company with the real potential to revolutionise hospital care for their sickest patients is the latest East of England company to announce plans for a 2006 IPO.

The Harston company, which grew out of joint research between Generics and global powerhouse, Siemens, is to list on the AIM market by the end of the year and will raise one final round of venture funding before then.

Sphere’s CEO Dr Stuart Hendry said the company was on track to close a round of "up to £5m" by Easter.

Sphere’s medical device fuses nano and microtechnologies in a tiny diagnostic chip that will give doctors access to a range of life-or-death information about critically ill patients in real-time.

The microanalyser will give immediate access to data which currently requires a lab test – taking minutes or hours – or for which there is no test available at the moment.

One study conducted at the University of Leuven found that 46 per cent fewer intensive care patients died when their blood sugar alone was closely regulated.

Sphere plans to program the chips to detect far more than that, including the levels of a drug in the bloodstream.

The same platform can be used in intensive care, operating theatres for heart operations, neuro-surgery and transplants.

Although like most Cambridge chip companies it is operating a fabless model, Sphere has experienced strong growth in headcount.

It has grown from three to 14 in the past year and it plans to double that number by the end of the year.

The firm has "multi-millions" still in the bank from its last VC round, which will be combined with the round currently underway to strengthen the balance sheet for the ongoing discussions with potential partners, provide enough money to head off the danger of a rushed IPO and also invest in manufacturing scale-up.

The company’s existing investors, including Artemis, Generics, Herald, Hotbed, Oakes, Lyman and Company, Siemens and Springhill have all reportedly expressed willingness to re-invest, and Dr Hendry is seeking to widen the net still further.

Dr Hendry stresses that the discussions it is holding with Tier One medical device companies in the US, Europe and Japan will be vitally important in determining the timing for the IPO.

He said: "We hope to be ready to go from Q4 2006 onwards, by which time we hope to have made further advances in product development and have several deals in place."

"We are developing a family of products, which will measure things such as antibiotics, analgesics, sedatives and cardiac drugs that will enable healthcare providers to manage doses very precisely and react to changes in a patient’s condition. This will provide better therapy and could save lives."

ICU and operating theatre care accounts for about 70 per cent of a hospital’s entire spend, with hospitals in the US spending $142bn on intensive care in 2001.

Dr Hendry estimates the addressable market for Sphere’s technology at bet-ween $1bn and $2bn.

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