Pharma software firm moving to North West

A Newcastle-based biomedical company is looking for a base in Liverpool or Manchester after securing £350,000 from the North West Fund.

The North West Fund for Biomedical, a £25m sub-fund of the £170m North West Fund, invested in the drug discovery company Molplex to develop its software product.

Molplex created an automated decision-making system using predictive chemistry and biology software to analyse decisions made by drug development professionals during the early stages of discovery and design. This process means that safer and better quality drugs could be developed at a fraction of the cost and faster than traditional research and development methodology.

The investment will be used to establish proof of concept with the current platform and complete further updates to the software. The money will be used to progress ten early stage drug projects through laboratory synthesis and testing using Molplex's automated systems.

It will also enable the company, currently based in Newcastle, to establish a base in the North West, a condition of the funding. The North West Fund is financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the European Investment Bank. The North West Fund for Biomedical is managed by SPARK Impact.

David Leahy, chief executive of Molplex, said: "We would like to thank The North West Fund for Biomedical for supporting our transformation into the first of a new class of an ultra-effective drug discovery business.

"Molplex's novel approach to the automation of drug discovery decision making can radically lower the cost of inventing new medicines, while increasing the quality of the new drug candidates. This funding creates an opportunity for us to convert that promise into reality."

Penny Attridge, senior investment director of SPARK Impact and fund manager for the North West Fund for Biomedical, said: "We are really excited to be working with David and the team from Molplex and see a bright future for the company."

Northstar Ventures originally invested in Molplex. Richard Exley from Northstar said: "We are pleased to see the expansion of Molplex beyond its original North East base, whilst also growing its operations in the North East with the chief operating officer and co-founder, Vladimir Sykora remaining in the North East office.

"Molplex has potentially disruptive technologies for drug discovery which led to our original investment and the company is now well positioned to move forwards in the market."

Molplex was the 22nd investment for The North West Fund for Biomedical.

Melanie Yeomans, corporate finance partner at law firm Ward Hadaway, led the firm's team advising the fund on the deal.

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