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1 October, 2018 - 11:38 By Tony Quested

Owlstone Medical hoists funding to $73m with Gulf and Asian cash

Cambridge disease breathalyser inventor Owlstone Medical has boosted a key global scale-up funding round to $50m thanks in no small measure to Hong Kong business magnate Li Ka-shing and investors from Taiwan and Dubai.

The latest haul totalled $35m, adding to the $15m previously announced here. Significantly, the new cash takes the total raised by the UK pioneer to around $73m since Billy Boyle founded the enterprise in 2016.

Business Weekly was the first to recognise the power of the technology – naming Owlstone Medical Life Science Innovation Champion shortly after the launch of the venture before the world woke up to its potential.

The company’s breath biopsy technology has since clinched for Owlstone Medical the coveted MacRobert Award from the Royal Academy of Engineering and earned collaborations with world leading big Pharma such as AstraZeneca.

As previously announced, the initial phase of this financing round was led by Aviva Ventures, the venture capital arm of Aviva plc, a global leader in insurance, and Horizons Ventures, the private investment arm of Li Ka-shing.

The additional $35m was led by Horizons Ventures, joined by a group of highly regarded global strategic investors including Ventura Capital in Dubai and Foxconn Technologies Group in Taiwan.

In this round, Owlstone Medical sought participation from organisations that in addition to capital investment would also be able to provide strategic support for the business.

With these long-term investors now in place, the company says it is in a position to benefit from improved access to key markets such as China, to clinical and academic researchers to support product development efforts, to high-quality manufacturing partners, and to additional international funding sources.

The funds have been raised to expand commercial opportunities in precision medicine including through the launch of targeted Breath Biopsy kits, and to enable further investment in the technology platform to support the development of additional high value applications.

Horizons Ventures’ Patrick Zhang said: “Following our initial investment in Owlstone Medical, we have become further convinced that Breath Biopsy has the potential to transform the fields of early cancer detection and precision medicine in the years to come. 

“We believe that Owlstone Medical is uniquely positioned to be able to facilitate this change and so have provided additional support to help realise this vision.”

Billy Boyle, co-founder and CEO at Owlstone Medical, added: “The closing of this round of financing marks a significant milestone for Owlstone Medical as it places us in a very secure financial position with a balance sheet sufficient to pursue all of our strategic commercial and development plans over the next several years, which we will execute through a combination of internal efforts and partnerships with industry leaders.

“We have been gratified by the high level of international interest we have received over the course of this raise, demonstrating that the need for improved diagnostic modalities that solve the challenges of early detection and precision medicine is global. 

“We enjoyed particularly strong interest from Asian investors in the round, and as China is a key market for the company we are encouraged by the strategic value of these partners as we seek to accelerate entry into this market.”

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Billy Boyle

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