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27 March, 2017 - 11:38 By Tony Quested

Aviva cash takes Owlstone haul to $23.5m

Billy Boyle Owlstone Medical

Disease breathalyser inventor Owlstone Medical has received unspecified but significant investment from Aviva Ventures, the venture capital arm of insurance giant Aviva plc.

Neither company has released any figures but the investment is believed to be around £4 million. It takes Owlstone Medical’s total funding to $23.5 million (£19.3m) since its spin-out from Owlstone Inc in 2016 and will be used to drive test adoption and commercialisation of the company’s Breath Biopsy® platform.

Owlstone Medical is leveraging proprietary and proven Field Asymmetric Ion Mobility Spectrometry (FAIMS) technology in its disease breathalyser product range.

FAIMS measures volatile organic compound (VOC) metabolites in patient’s breath or biospecimens which are specific to disease. Measurement of VOC biomarkers allows non-invasive diagnosis of disease at a very early stage, to enable more effective treatment and better patient outcomes.

Aviva Ventures provides early stage investment to back entrepreneurs with high growth businesses and has identified Owlstone Medical’s breath biopsy platform as being strategically important to its business. Aviva will actively promote Owlstone Medical in the healthcare space and build awareness of breath biopsy as a new standard in diagnostics.

Ben Luckett, MD at Aviva Ventures, said: “Our intention is to invest in unique and innovative startups that look to disrupt the future of insurance. Owlstone Medical is a great example of this. Its strong team and ground-breaking product gives us every confidence in its future success. 

“Technology is evolving rapidly and so it is critical for large, global businesses like Aviva to collaborate with start-ups such as Owlstone Medical. Traditionally, insurance has supported customers in the aftermath of a problem, going forward prevention will be just as important as the cure.”

Billy Boyle (pictured), co-founder and CEO at Owlstone Medical, added: “Investment from Aviva as one of the major global insurance brands further validates our FAIMS technology and breath biopsy as a new approach to medical diagnostics. We are very pleased that Aviva is supporting us in our mission to save 100,000 lives and $1.5 billion in healthcare costs.”

Dr Doug Wright, medical director at Aviva, has been appointed an Observer to the Owlstone Medical board.

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