Welcome to the Health Matters’ case studies series, where we will be speaking to the business leaders who have successfully used our programme to take their product or service to new heights in the health and care sectors.
In this blog, we catch up with CEO Jan Rogers of Agile Life Sciences.
Based in Sci-Tech Daresbury, Agile Life Sciences was established in 2020 to support the diagnostic testing of COVID-19. The company launched a saliva-based antibody lateral flow test for COVID-19 through their ISO 13485 accreditation for medical devices and In vitro diagnostics (IVD).
They have also developed a highly innovative process which detects the effects of hormone changes on specific menopause biomarkers by next generation sequencing (NGS) of urine samples to map the vaginal microbiome. Through this technology the company are developing a test for menopause to help identify a woman’s stage of menopause transition.
Agile Life Sciences is a multidisciplinary team who are passionate about biotechnology and believe that collaboration is the key to success in driving innovation.
How did your company find out about the Health Matters programme?
We had been looking for support from various organisations and we were aware of the Health Matters partner the Innovation Agency as they are based on the same site as us at Sci-Tech Daresbury and the support they provide for growing life science companies. We were then introduced to Andy Cairns from the Innovation Agency who is the project lead for the Health Mattes programme.
What challenges was your company facing prior to receiving support? What do you think the main barriers are for using emerging technology?
Research and discussions around menopause management is incredibly important as it effects 52% of the population and 80% of women suffer from symptoms that are poorly managed and any treatment given receives no follow up.
For our work on menopause management, we were looking to develop a body of evidence and data to help with regulatory submissions and build a dossier of information on which to provide evidence of what the simple, at home, urine test does and how it will support both clinicians and women.
In parallel we will also need to drive awareness of the test and educate on the vaginal microbiome to build clinical acceptance across the healthcare professional landscape.
What support did your company receive and how was it delivered?
The Health Matters team were fantastic. At the start of the journey we received guidance on the funding scene and what would be the best route for getting new funding to enable the company to grow.
They have made great introductions to clinical teams and other companies that have an understanding of the current menopause landscape. This has been invaluable to us as it provided the credibility and reassurance that we are doing that the right thing and that there is a real demand for our test.
We are currently working with The Innovation Agency to partner with us for a Proof of Concept grant through The Science and Technology Facilities Council.
What new activity was your company able to do as a result of the support?
We were able to connect with a broader network and access funding streams that we wouldn’t have been aware of. We have been able to apply for other funding schemes off the back of the support.
What impact did the support have?
We were able to recruit more staff and purchase more equipment to allow the pilot to scale faster.
What are your company’s plans for the future as a result of this support?
We are currently looking to complete our pilot study and then move to early-stage commercialisation. Through the links we have made we have identified potential partners to help us execute on testing in a real-world clinical environment to further build user acceptance.
Would you recommend the programme to other SMEs?
We would wholeheartedly recommend the Health Matters programme – not only for the introductions we received but also their guidance on navigating the NHS landscape.
The Health Matters programme was part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund to support local businesses, with innovative solutions, to access the health and care markets.
By providing bespoke, one-on-one assistance, we help businesses hone their products and services. Through real-world validation we demonstrate their practical and commercial benefits.