Newcastle University spinout secures seed investment

Pioneering life science start-up raises funding to commercialise its unique protein technology.

Three North East based investment funds have combined forces with a biotech industry specialist to support Newcastle University’s latest spin out company, MarraBio Ltd (“Marrabio”). Maven Capital Partners (“Maven”), CPI Enterprises, Northstar Ventures, and TCS Biosciences have together provided MarraBio with an initial round of seed investment funding.

MarraBio is developing ground-breaking technology to produce alternatives to bioactive proteins, some of the most expensive man-made materials used in industry.

Using technology originally developed at Newcastle University which has been licenced exclusively to the company, MarraBio is able to manufacture proteins which mimic the function of conventional proteins at much lower cost and with improved performance.

Products developed by MarraBio will target the multi-billion-dollar markets for biomedical research and therapy, as well as the production of cultivated meat, which is predicted to be worth over $20 billion by 2030.

CPI Enterprises is the private investor arm of the Centre for Process Innovation, a leading independent technology innovation centre and a founding member of the UK Government’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult.

TCS Biosciences is one of Europe’s foremost suppliers of biological raw materials and laboratory reagents to the life sciences sector.

Maven is a leading private equity manager, with offices across the UK, including Newcastle, and manages the North East Development Capital Fund, which is also supported by the European Regional Development Fund.

Newcastle-based Northstar Ventures has been supporting high growth companies across the North East of England for almost twenty years and manages the North East Innovation Fund, supported by the European Regional Development Fund.

Aidan Courtney, MarraBio’s Executive Chairman, said: ‘This is an outstanding investment syndicate. Our technology has the potential to accelerate the development of new medicines and to make the production of animal-free meat commercially viable. But this will only be achieved with significant financial, commercial and technical support. So, I am very pleased to have such strength in depth in our investors at this early stage, and that much of our funding is coming from North East investors. This augments the support we have received from Newcastle University to create the company.’

Dr Daniel Peters, MarraBio’s CEO, said: ‘Our technology builds on two decades of research at Newcastle University led by my co-founder Professor Jeremy Lakey into the use of a very unusual protein called Caf1. We have always been aware of the commercial potential of the research, so it is great that we now have the resources we need to bring products to the market. Over the next few years, we will supply products based on the Caf1 protein which address the severe limitations of current products, notably cost and shelf-life. With our investors’ support, we will be able to develop products for a wide range of markets and achieve rapid sales growth.’

Michael Dickens, Investment Manager at Maven, said: ‘We’re delighted to back our first local university spin out in the region. MarraBio is a pioneering business, and its technology platform is already producing a reagent with proven biological effectiveness for use in cell culture. Dr Daniel Peters is an expert in the field and we look forward to working with the team to help drive the business forward as they look to invest in developing and launch their products.’

Alex Buchan, Investment Director at Northstar Ventures, said: ‘We are delighted to invest in MarraBio, having been involved in the spinning out of this company from Newcastle University. We see their potential as a critical supplier in fast growing industries such as vaccinations, antibody developments and cellular therapies. We are excited for the company’s ambitions and what the future may hold for MarraBio.’