A near-£1 million investment will help University of Dundee spinout company Ten Bio Ltd to commercialise the human skin culture system it developed to provide a viable alternative for many experiments currently performed on animals.
Led by TRICAPITAL LTD and with matched funding from Scottish Enterprise, the investment of £911,000 will enable the company to progress its mission to transform the testing of new pharmaceutical and cosmetic products. Initial launch of the company’s brand will be in the US, where the majority of potential customers are based.
In addition, Ten Bio’s research and product development programmes benefit from grant funding provided by Innovate UK.
Ten Bio spun out from the University’s School of Life Sciences, where founders Dr Robyn Hickerson and Dr Michael Conneely were initially developing explant skin models to enable their drug discovery programmes.
Pharmaceutical and cosmetics companies test their products rigorously before they are administered to humans. There is an unmet need for technologies that will generate reliable safety and efficacy data on their effects on human skin.
Ten Bio’s TenSkin™ system provides companies with a reliable, tunable skin testing model.
Building on years of research, the company’s founders have successfully created a patented, human skin culture system that closely mimics intact, living skin. TenSkin™ stretches human skin to an optimal tension to mimic the mechanobiology that exists in skin on our bodies. This provides a state-of-the-art tool for skin biology research and pharmaceutical and cosmetics testing.
Ten Bio has already signed research contracts with global companies, and it is anticipated that its first products will soon be available in the US market.
“The response to our technology from major dermatology and cosmetics companies has already been incredible,” said Dr Hickerson. “They have been waiting years for a solution like TenSkin™, which provides a reliable, consistent way of testing their products in an ethical manner.”
Moray Martin, CEO of TRICAP, said, “TRICAP is delighted to be supporting the excellent Ten Bio team as they transition from the laboratory into the commercial world. Ten Bio’s in vitro science and technology offers a reliable and credible alternative to some usage of animal testing and thus a more accurate testing of products en route to market for both pharma/biotech and cosmetic companies. This is an innovative company with an exciting commercial future that we are honoured to be sharing with them."
Ten Bio is headquartered in Dundee and is opening a laboratory in Kannapolis, North Carolina from where it will serve its US-based customers. The investment will enable Ten Bio to continue the roll-out of its service business and to develop further product offerings.
Ten Bio was one of the winners of last year’s Scottish EDGE competition, and Dr Hickerson was runner-up in the Converge Challenge category of Converge 2020, a company creation programme designed for staff, students, and graduates of universities in Scotland.
Dr David McBeth, Director of Research and Innovation Services at Dundee, said, “Dundee is rightly becoming recognised as a really exciting UK location for life sciences and health-related spin-out companies and this transformational investment in Ten Bio is one of several investments in University spin-outs that we expect to see complete this year. We have a renewed focus on supporting entrepreneurs among staff, students and alumni, and, via our participation in the Tay Cities Deal, we hope to grow a life sciences innovation district here in Tayside where companies like Ten Bio can thrive.”
Ten Bio was advised by MBM Commercial and TRICAP was advised by Anderson Strathern in respect of the investment.
TRICAP is a Scottish Enterprise-accredited angel syndicate. Since 2004 it has supported early-stage, sunrise businesses to achieve their aspirations through a combination of funding and expertise. The company is sector-agnostic focussing, instead, on entrepreneurs and teams with the passion, energy and desire to deliver exceptional performance.
For more information, visit www.tricapital.co.uk