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Edinburgh University spin-out bags £1m investment to ‘revolutionise’ microbiology
Left to right are Alex McVey, Michiel Smith, Teuta Pilizota, and Moray Martin. Picture by Stewart Attwood
Business & Economy

Edinburgh University spin-out bags £1m investment to ‘revolutionise’ microbiology 

A University of Edinburgh biotech spin-out has secured £1 million of investment to help revolutionise the way organisms like bacteria are grown in laboratory conditions.

The funding will help OGI Bio establish a new laboratory and manufacturing facility, grow the team, and ramp up sales of its automation systems to the microbiology and biotechnology sectors.  

The automated device developed by the firm improves processing capability, cost effectiveness and data analytics thereby facilitating and increasing research and development (R&D) capability to help accelerate innovation.  

TRICAPITAL led the investment round alongside Apollo Informal Investment, Old College Capital, the University of Edinburgh’s in-house venture investment fund, Sapphire Capital Partners in conjunction with Queen’s University Belfast’s QUBIS Innovation Fund, Merleview (Capital), and Scottish Enterprise. 

Alex McVey, chief executive and co-founder, said: “Our aim is to ultimately have one of our devices on the bench of every microbiologist and biotechnologist, enabling them to innovate more productively, flexibly, and sustainably.”

Co-founded in 2020 by McVey, a physics graduate from the University of Edinburgh and Royal Society of Edinburgh fellow, and Professor Teuta Pilizota, a chief science officer, internationally renowned expert on microbial physiology, and chair of biophysics at the University of Edinburgh, OGI Bio started shipping its first customer orders this year.

Pilizota said: “Our products can be used by anyone who is growing microbes like bacteria, yeast, and algae, but we are focusing initially on biotech and microbiology companies, and academic research laboratories who are looking to accelerate their own development with low-cost automation and improved analytical tools.” 

Moray Martin, chairman and managing partner of The TRICAPITAL Syndicate LLP, said: “OGI Bio has a world-class leadership team, an exciting product that is already achieving commercial success and coherent and realisable plans to extend its product range. We are delighted to be supporting Alex, Teuta, and the team through its scale up phase.” 

The base unit of OGI Bio’s automation system recently received UKCA and other UK and international certifications, which allows the company to market its products in the UK, Europe, North America and beyond. 

Also this year, OGI Bio received a SMART Scotland grant via Scottish Enterprise, and additional funding from the Higgs Incubation Centre.

The company’s board is chaired by Stephen Roe, supported by investor directors Michiel Smith representing TRICAP and Apollo and Andrew Murphy representing Old College Capital. 

OGI Bio was the inaugural winner of the IBioIC biotechnology category at the Scottish EDGE awards in 2020, and was one of the companies selected for Scottish Enterprise’s Unlocking Ambition accelerator in 2020/21. 

Kerry Sharp, director of entrepreneurship and investment at Scottish Enterprise, said: “Scotland has a thriving industrial biotechnology sector and many of the innovative companies we invest in are university spinouts just like OGI Bio.

“We’ve been working with them for a while – through our Unlocking Ambition entrepreneurial development programme and with a range of advisory and grant support – so we’re pleased to be further supporting their ambitious plans for the future through our equity investment, which will lead to increased Scottish manufacturing capability and quality job creation.”

Anderson Strathern and Brodies acted for the investors on the investment round, while OGI Bio was advised by Vialex. 

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