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Sphere to relocate to Wales after £13m fundraising round

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Published by Sion Barry, 22nd April 2015

Arthurian Life Sciences, chaired by Professor Sir Chris Evans, led on the fundraising for AIM-listed Sphere Medical

 

A Cambridge medical devices firm, which is close to full scale commercial production of its innovate blood gas measuring technology, is moving its manufacturing and HQ to Wales after a successful £13.2m new equity fundraising round.

Arthurian Life Sciences, chaired by Professor Sir Chris Evans and which manages on a discretionary basis the Welsh Government’s Wales Life Sciences Investment Fund, led on the funding raising for AIM-listed Sphere Medical.

The fund now has a 18% stake in Sphere following its £4m investment.

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As a condition of the deal, Sphere Medical has agreed to move its manufacturing operations to Wales in line with the planned scale-up of its operations.

It will have a HQ at Cardiff Bay’s Wales Life Sciences Hub. It is currently assessing a number of locations for its manufacturing base around Cardiff and Pencoed.

When operation next year the Sphere’s production facility will employs 30 highly skilled staff. The firm will maintain a laboratory presence in Cambridge.

Sphere Medical’s lead product, Proxima, addresses the unmet market need for frequent blood gas measurements for clinically unstable patients.

The global market potential of its Proxima product when sold worldwide is in excess of US $200m per annum.

It is envisaged that overtime it will scale up production to one million units annually in Wales, with many of the components as possible sourced through the Welsh supply chain.

Sir Chris said: “Wales is a world leader in life sciences and advanced manufacturing. High growth companies are increasingly attracted to scaling up here in an environment where the required skills, resource and financial support are available in abundance.

“We see this from UK and US companies looking to set up shop in Wales to target the European market, or European companies looking for the talent and resource to expand into the next phase of growth.

“The fundaising is the latest in a number of significant advances made by Sphere Medical.”

Sir Chris said that Arthurian currently has a number of “imminent” investment deals, which would see a three further life sciences firms relocating to Wales.

He is also working with the Welsh Government on restructuring and enlarging the Wales Life Sciences Fund, of which £50m has been committed by the Welsh Government, to potentially as much as £300m – with a number of London-based institutional investors understood to be keen to commit funding.

Sir Chris said: “There are other funders looking to pile in, but Wales has to continue to be bold and brave and build on the brilliant momentum we have created in life sciences over the last few years.”

However, it is understood that private sector commitment to backing any enlarged fund only has a small window of opportunity and would have to be concluded by the summer.

 

First proton beam centres in the UK get £10m equity injection from the Welsh Government

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Posted 6 April 2015 by Sion Barry.

Professor Sir Chris Evans

Professor Sir Chris Evans

The first proton beam centre in the UK will open in Newport next year after the company behind it, Proton Partners International, raised £100m.

The company behind the UK first’s cancer treating proton beam centres in the UK is being supported with £10m equity backing from the Welsh Government.

Cardiff-based start-up venture Proton Partners International will initially be located at the Life Sciences Hub in Cardiff Bay. It has raised £100m to build three proton beam centres in the UK.

The first centre, which will also pioneer other cancer therapies and clinics, will be based at Celtic Springs business park in Newport.

It will open in the summer of next year. The other two in the first wave of centres will be in Northumberland and London, which will be operational by 2017.

US technicians in proton beam technology will be in Wales to provide training ahead of the centre’s opening.

As well as treating private patients the centres will also treat NHS patients. The NHS spends at least £100,000 per patient transferred overseas for proton beam treatment.

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Biggest investment yet

The investment into Proton Partners includes the biggest investment to date from the Welsh Government’s Wales Life Sciences Investment Fund.

The £50m fund, which is seeking match funding to take it to at least £100m, is managed on a discretionary basis by the Arthurian Life Sciences, which is chaired by Port Talbot-born serial investor and entrepreneur in the life sciences sector Sir Chris Evans.

Sir Chris is also deputy chair of Proton Partners International. Arthurian put the project together and led the successful fundraising round.

Sir Chris said: “We are delighted that the UK’s first centre will be based in Cardiff. The Wales Life Sciences Investment Fund is proud to support this breakthrough. There are more than 150,000 people treated for cancer each year in the UK and the demand for treatment is growing.

It is anticipated that NHS demand for proton beam therapy abroad will reach 1,500 patients by 2017. Proton Partners will be able to play a leading part in helping meet demand in the UK as of next year.”

The NHS first’s proton two proton team centres will not open until 2018.

In addition to state of the art proton beam services the Newport centre will provide conventional radiotherapy, chemotherapy and supportive care. This could then be offered through other centres.

Next phases

Sir Chris said: “Arthurian put this project together very rapidly and people very quickly grasped what we were talking about. It is a very good model. We have also received fantastic support from Business Minister Edwina Hart.

After the first three centres will be looking at a further 3-4 in the UK and a similar number overseas over the next few years. We are already looking at another big funding round before looking to float the business, which will provide more capital to invest in the business.”

The technology

Proton beam therapy is a highly-targeted type of radiotherapy that can treat hard-to-reach cancers, such as spinal tumours, with a lower risk of damaging the surrounding tissue and causing side effects.

As well as the Wales Life Sciences Investment Fund other backers in the funding round include world leading investor in the biotech sector Neil Woodford – who is also understood to be interested in backing a larger Wales Life Sciences Investment Fund.

Sir Chris said the first centre in Newport, a former endoscopy site, was chosen due to its close proximity to the M4, so providing easy access to staff and patients from across South Wales and the west of England

He added: “It is conveniently located close to Velindre and the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, as well as to serving the south-west of England. We are already on site for what is a hugely exciting project for Wales.”

Cancer Treatment Breakthrough – Proton Beam Therapy Centres Launched

 

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By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: April 04, 2015

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The UK is to get its first three Proton Beam Therapy centres, marking a significant breakthrough in the provision of cancer treatment.

Cardiff-based Proton Partners International Ltd is to open the treatment centres in Cardiff, London and Northumberland by 2017 and the first, Cardiff, will be operational next year

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The centres will be available for NHS patients from England, Scotland and Wales, medically-insured private patients and self-paying patients.

Proton Partners International has been formed following discussions between Professor Sir Chris Evans, the leading life sciences entrepreneur, and leading UK life sciences and healthcare investors on addressing cancer treatment in the UK. Institutional and private investors have committed to almost £100m equity finance in the company.

Investors back £100m plan for UK proton-beam cancer centres

4th April 2015  Andrew Ward, Pharmaceuticals Correspondent

proton Therapy

Two of Britain’s best-known life-science investors are backing a £100m plan to build three proton-beam cancer treatment centres in the UK, a year before the National Health Service is scheduled to adopt the technology.

The scheme is led by Sir Chris Evans, a biotech entrepreneur, with support from Neil Woodford, the fund manager and long-time enthusiast for life sciences.

 

 

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Clinics would be opened in Cardiff, London and Newcastle by 2017, offering proton-beam therapy — a highly targeted form of radiotherapy — to treat hard-to-reach cancers. The technology made headlines last year when five-year-old Ashya King was removed from hospital by his parents against medical advice and taken to Prague to have a brain tumour treated with proton beams. Last month, the couple said their son was free of cancer.

The case highlighted the absence of such technology in the UK and the growing demand from patients because of its potential to destroy cancer cells with less damage to surrounding tissue and organs than traditional radiotherapy.
Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, announced last month that proton-beam therapy would be introduced at centres in London and Manchester in 2018.

Sir Chris plans to have his company’s first clinic open in Cardiff as early as next year. He told the Financial Times that Proton Partners International had received commitments of almost £100m from investors, including Mr Woodford. Others include the Welsh Life Sciences Fund, set up by the Welsh government to support biotech investment in Wales and managed by Sir Chris. It will put in £10m.

Sir Chris predicted strong demand from private patients and “health tourists” travelling from countries without the technology, but said he wanted the clinics to be open to NHS patients as well.

The NHS spends tens of millions of pounds a year sending hundreds of patients for treatment at proton-beam centres overseas, mainly in the US, with costs often above £100,000 per person.
Proton Partners would be able to “save the NHS a lot of money” and spare patients and their families a trip abroad, said Sir Chris.

His plan could face obstacles depending on who wins next month’s general election. Ed Miliband announced plans this week to cap the profits available to private providers to the NHS.

Sir Chris, the son of a Port Talbot steelworker, who has lent money to the Labour party in the past, said Proton Partners would work with any government to find ways of making its treatment available to NHS patients.

“I love the NHS,” he said. “It is a fantastic British institution, but there is a limit to what it can do.
“They are going to end up with a lot of patients who will want proton-beam therapy and they will not be able to meet demand through their own centres.”

Sir Chris cited estimates that demand for proton-beam therapy in the NHS could reach 1,500 patients a year in the next two years, implying a cost of more than £170m from sending people overseas.

In the longer term, he said research suggested that 10 to 15 per cent of all cancer radiotherapy would involve the technique.

At current levels, that would mean at least 15,000 patients receiving the treatment. But Sir Chris said the figure would be higher because of rising incidence of cancer and potential use of proton-beam therapy in a wider range of cancers.

Proton Partners will be chaired by Gordon McVie, senior consultant at the European Institute of Oncology. The chief medical adviser will be Karol Sikora, former head of the World Health Organisation cancer programme.

Sir Chris made a fortune from founding and selling a series of biotech companies and now invests in the sector through his Arthurian fund management company.

CANCER TREATMENT MILESTONE AS PLANS ARE UNVEILED

CANCER TREATMENT MILESTONE AS PLANS ARE UNVEILED FOR UK’S FIRST PROTON BEAM THERAPY CENTRES

April 5th 2015 : The UK is to get its first three Proton Beam Therapy centres, marking a significant breakthrough in the provision of cancer treatment.

Cardiff-based Proton Partners International Ltd is to open the treatment centres in Cardiff, London and Northumberland by 2017 and the first – Cardiff –  will be operational next year.

Read more

The centres will be available for NHS patients from England, Scotland and Wales, medically-insured private patients and self-paying patients.

Proton Partners International has been formed following discussions between Professor Sir Chris Evans, the leading life sciences entrepreneur, and leading UK life sciences and healthcare investors on addressing cancer treatment in the UK. Institutional and private investors have committed to almost £100m equity finance in the company.

Professor Gordon McVie, Senior Consultant at the European Institute of Oncology, has been appointed chairman and Professor Karol Sikora, has agreed to become chief medical adviser to the company, alongside a range of renowned cancer and healthcare experts.

Professor McVie said: “This is an exciting and important development of the provision of cancer treatment in the UK. As things stand, patients who can benefit from this treatment have to go abroad for treatment, often at great expense to the NHS. The creation of these centres will go a long way to ensuring the very best of treatment is available in the UK.”

Professor Sikora said: “I was delighted to be approached by Sir Chris as there are only 40 Proton Beam Therapy centres around the world and a pressing need for more.  In the UK there are none. Given the ageing population, there will be a significant rise in the number of cancer cases in the UK and therefore we should do what is necessary to provide the appropriate level and type of care.”

Sir Chris Evans and his team at Arthurian Life Sciences, which manages the £100 million Wales Life Sciences Investment Fund established by the Welsh Government, are investing in the company through the fund.

Sir Chris said: “We are delighted that the UK’s first centre will be based in Cardiff and Wales Life Sciences Investment Fund is proud to support this breakthrough. There are more than 150,000 people treated by radiotherapy for cancer each year in the UK and the demand for treatment is growing. It is anticipated that NHS demand for Proton Beam Therapy abroad will reach 1,500 patients by 2017. Proton Partners will be able to play a leading part in helping meet demand in the UK as of next year.”

Edwina Hart, the Minister for Economy, Science and Transport, in the Welsh Government, said:  “I am delighted that Sir Chris and his Arthurian team are bringing this excellent project to Wales to build the first Proton Beam Therapy centre in Britain.”

In addition to state of the art Proton Partners’ treatment services, the Cardiff centre will provide conventional radiotherapy, chemotherapy and supportive care. This could then be offered through other centres.

Proton beam therapy is a highly-targeted type of radiotherapy that can treat hard-to-reach cancers, such as spinal tumours (chordomas), with a lower risk of damaging the surrounding tissue and causing side effects.

In the future, Proton Partners International intends to develop further proton therapy centres in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

The Government has announced that it is to create two NHS proton beam therapy units which will open in 2018.

 

Notes to Editors:

Proton Partners International is a private limited company, registered in Wales.

Professor Gordon McVie is Senior Consultant at the European Institute of Oncology, Visiting Professor at Glasgow University and Honorary Consultant in Medical oncology at the Welsh Cancer Institute, Cardiff, Wales.

Professor Karol Sikora is former Chief of the World Health Organisation’s Cancer Programme and medical adviser to Cancer Partners UK.

Sir Chris Evans (deputy non-executive chairman) has established high-quality science companies, 20 of which have been taken public and is widely regarded as Europe’s leading life sciences entrepreneur.

Mike Von Bertele CB OBE (non-executive director) is International Director of Save the Children working alongside DfID to combat Ebola in West Africa. Formerly Director General Army Medical Services., he was appointed Honorary Surgeon to Her Majesty The Queen in 2008.

Mike Moran MBE( managing director) has 30 years experience in strategic leadership, planning & programme delivery and has held executive positions in defence and healthcare companies in UK & abroad.

John McIntosh MSc MA (Programme director) has three decades leading healthcare delivery in challenging international environments.

David Knott (Chief Technology Director) is CEO of The MEI Healthcare Group, a 40 year-old healthcare strategy and development group. He has personally led the setting up of 6 such proton centres in the USA.

BUPA estimates that by 2021, the UK’s ageing population is likely to see: 20% rise in the number of new cancer cases to 383,000. 62% rise in the treatment cost to £15.3bn.

 

Further information:

Proton Partners International Ltd

Professor Gordon McVie

Professor Sir Chris Evans

Professor Karol Sikora

The Welsh Life Sciences Investment Fund

Martin Walton

The Welsh Life Sciences Hub

Professor Chris McGuigan, Chairman.   

 

Contact:

Ramsay Smith, Media House 07788414856 / ramsay@mediahouse.co.uk.

Clare Ambrosino 07502971408 / clare@mediahouse.co.uk