By @SimonCocking

It’s great to see developments coming in the medtech sector, looking to deal with real issues, rather than just apps like ‘Yo’, which we will surely look back on and say, what were we thinking. Meningitis is a real worry for parents, tough to spot, and potentially fatal. We will keep an eye out on the development of this company, and hopefully it will mark the development of another successful Irish medtech company.

Kernel Capital through the Bank of Ireland MedTech Accelerator Fund is pleased to announce a €2 million investment in Dublin-based HiberGene Diagnostics Limited (“HiberGene”), a medical diagnostics company.  The syndicated investment comprises of a €500,000 investment by the Bank of Ireland MedTech Accelerator Fund with the remainder of funds provided by Enterprise Ireland and Private Investors.

A spin-out from the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, HiberGene is developing a range of molecular diagnostics tests which will enable the rapid diagnosis of multiple infectious diseases. The Company will use this round of funding to support the commercialisation of its first two molecular tests for Meningococcal Meningitis and Group B Streptococcus (GBS).

Meningitis currently affects 1.2 million[1] people each year, with one in ten of these cases resulting in fatality and is typically diagnosed through lengthy culture testing and PCR testing methods. HiberGene’s diagnostic tests developed utilising the LAMP (Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification) enabling technology will enable the diagnosis of patients in near-patient settings such as clinical laboratories, emergency rooms and delivery wards producing positive results within ten minutes.

HiberGene are planning significant recruitment over the next twelve months to support their growth plans. As part of this round, Des O’ Leary, a participant of the Kernel Capital “Entrepreneur in Residence” programme, has joined HiberGene Board as Non-Executive Director. Des is a subject matter expert on the LAMP technology and has 20 years+ experience as a senior executive in the Diagnostics and Biotechnology industries.

Welcoming the announcement Donal Duffy, Head of Enterprise Ireland Relations at Bank of Ireland said: “The Bank of Ireland MedTech Accelerator Fund was established to support innovative companies such as HiberGene Diagnostics – a company combining both innovative expertise with business insight.  It’s particularly satisfying to be involved with such a company, which is also contributing so positively in terms of the diagnostics of serious diseases as well as job creation.  We look forward to welcoming new investee companies and to being part of their success stories.”

Dr. Brian O’Neill, Head of Lifesciences High Potential Start Ups, Enterprise Ireland said: “HiberGene Diagnostics is exactly the type of innovative export-oriented company that Enterprise Ireland is keen to support.  The company, led by a highly experienced founding team, is focusing on a niche opportunity and building on an exciting platform technology”.

Orla Rimmington, Partner, Kernel Capital added: “There is a significant market need for accurate, rapid, cost-effective and simple to use near-patient clinical testing for critical care infectious diseases. Kernel Capital through the Bank of Ireland MedTech Accelerator Fund is delighted to support innovative early stage Irish companies like HiberGene Diagnostics to enable their product launch and market entry.”

Commenting on the announcement, Brendan Farrell, CEO, HiberGene Diagnostics said: “We are very pleased to have secured our first round of financing and we are now ready to fully commercialise our first two products and to commence development of LAMP-based tests for other infectious diseases. Both the meningitis and Group B Streptococcus products meet a currently unmet clinical need for rapid and accurate testing.”

[1] http://www.comomeningitis.org/facts-about-meningitis/

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