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17 November, 2020 - 08:59 By Tony Quested

Sorex senses share of $323.3bn market with Frost on board

Cambridge University spin-out Sorex Sensors has tempted serial technology entrepreneur Martin Frost to join the board as a non executive director as it targets a market forecast to be worth $323.3bn inside four years.

Frost co-founded keyhole surgery robotics pioneer CMR Surgical and took it from hopeful startup to unicorn status inside six years. He was made a CBE in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours list in recognition of his services to robotics after helping to bring the innovative Versius surgical robot arm to hospitals in the UK and globally. 

He helped CMR Surgical raise £195 million last year in Europe's largest ever medtech private financing round which took the valuation of the business beyond the £1 billion mark. 

He has been involved in starting and leading numerous technology and life science companies, including the Cambridge tech consultancy Sagentia.

As well as his experience of growing successful companies, Frost brings to the Sorex board extensive technical expertise from the development of sensors for a variety of applications during his career. 

Sorex chairman Michael LeGoff said: “Martin has a huge amount of commercial and industrial experience that will be invaluable as we seek to maximise our opportunities for growth. I am looking forward to working with him as we develop Sorex over the next few years.”

Sorex Sensors manufactures high-sensitivity MEMS mass sensors to transform industrial and consumer products. The company’s initial focus is on improving the monitoring of indoor air quality. Poor indoor air quality has been linked to a range of illnesses – particularly lung diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. 

The global market for sensors – valued at $153.3 billion in 2018 – is expected to increase to $323.3 billion by 2024. Sorex launched its first product based on its breakthrough film bulk acoustic resonator (FBAR) sensor technology last year. 

It consists of a particulate sensor along with an accompanying development kit – and is designed for use in devices for monitoring indoor air quality.

The FBAR sensor developed by Sorex is extremely small, measuring less than 0.5 square millimetres. It uses microwatts for power and can detect changes in mass down to femtograms – the weight of a single virus. That makes it the most accurate and cost-effective sensor available.

Frost said: “Sorex has taken exactly the right approach and is developing and bringing to market exciting new sensor technology that is set to change the way a variety of applications can detect what is most harmful in our indoor environments. 

“The current pandemic has highlighted just how critical that is – not only to detect dangerous gases but to detect the particulates and other matter where viruses and virus-like microbes can adhere and spread. 

“The Sorex sensor technology is already proving valuable today – and has the potential to be developed into a real game changer in the future.”

The company is based in the Maxwell Centre at the university’s West Cambridge site. It also has research teams at the Technical University of Madrid and the University of Warwick in the UK.

In August, Sorex Sensors raised £900,000 and made key management changes to steer the bid for global dominance. Investors in the funding round included the university’s commercialisation arm Cambridge Enterprise, which matched funds raised by a set of Cambridge- and London-based investors including the Cambridge Angels, SyndicateRoom and Camvision. In a parallel move, Sorex promoted co-founder and former chief technology officer Dr Mario de Miguel Ramos to CEO – replacing Michael LeGoff, who took the role of executive chairman. Professor Andrew Flewitt, head of electrical engineering at the University of Cambridge and also a co-founder of Sorex, transitioned from chairman  to chief scientific officer.

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