Imperial College London

Thinking to the future: Incubator companies grow White City ecosystem

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Lobby of the I-HUB

Lobby of the I-HUB

Three life sciences startups have graduated from the Imperial White City Incubator and moved into their own spaces in the White City area.

Despite the challenges of last year, three companies based in Imperial's White City Incubator are planning for the future by growing into new office space in the College's Translation & Innovation Hub (I-HUB) and lab space in White City. Two have pivoted their technology to a COVID-19 application whilst the other team is developing software to enable smart, remote monitoring of respiratory conditions.

SMART Respiratory

SMART Respiratory has developed a handheld device to track peak flow, which is the standard measure of the speed that a person can blow air out of their lungs. It is used to help diagnose and monitor asthma, and the device can feed results into a smartphone, allowing data to be captured and shared. The technology was originally designed to help asthma sufferers manage the disease but it has potential value for a range of respiratory diseases.

“It’s wonderful to see these companies grow and graduate from the Incubator. It’s even more encouraging to see them stay in the local area and ecosystem. Graham Hewson Head of Incubation

Since taking office space at the Incubator in 2018, SMART Respiratory has shifted its focus from the device itself to developing software to maximise its functionality through AI and algorithms. During this time the UK-based team has expanded from two people to six.

“The White City campus is a fantastic location and it’s great to be part of the Incubator story,” says Thomas Antalffy, Co-founder and Managing Director. “I think continuing to be based in the I-HUB is really a symbol of our ambition which is to grow from a startup into a global company. It’s an inspiring place to be and, although we are all working on different innovations, it feels like the companies based here are part of a larger project.”

The company is working in multiple countries and the app has been translated into 30 languages, with recent regulatory approval in India and planned approval from the FDA in the USA. In the future they are hoping to harness their existing expertise in developing a telemedicine approach as healthcare continues to shift towards more remote approaches.

Affinity Biomarker Labs

Affinity Biomarker Labs assists in the discovery, verification, validation and analysis of novel biomarkers, particularly in areas of high unmet need, so they can be used as indicators of a disease or condition to help clinical decision making.

Based at the White City Incubator since 2018, the team has worked collaboratively with a number of other Incubator companies. In 2019, Incubator employees took part in a study involving a wellness test that enabled Affinity to assess the efficacy of needleless sampling technology.

With the outbreak of COVID-19, the company pivoted towards testing for antibodies in the blood that are produced as part of the immune response following COVID-19 infection. At the end of February 2020, the company launched the SARS-CoV-2 serology testing which uses fully automated platforms to test for the levels of two antibodies – IgM and IgG – in whole blood, serum or plasma.

The Affinity team now has offices in the I-HUB and lab space in West London.

SIME Dx

SIME Dx has developed a compact point-of-care device and AI diagnostic platform for use in a critical care setting. Its first products are designed for the neonatal intensive care wards to predict respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) and chronic lung disease (CLD/BPD) in preterm babies at birth. This early screening then enables clinicians to deliver early preventative therapy within the first hour of life.

The device detects these conditions by measuring the level of surfactant in the lungs which is an essential group of molecules that support breathing. The preventative therapy uses a form of natural surfactant to treat these conditions.

The SIME Dx team joined the Incubator in 2017 where they were tenants in a shared lab and in 2018 they completed a two year EU Horizon 2020 project which resulted in the publication of clinical data, an engineering prototype and new IP. In 2021 they graduated out of the Incubator and now have their own space locally, contributing to the critical mass of life science companies in White City. The company is now developing a product to predict acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDs) in critically ill COVID-19 patients, which again can enable early targeted care with a form of surfactant therapy.

Graham Hewson, Imperial's Head of Incubation, said: “It’s wonderful to see these companies grow, achieve and eventually graduate from the Incubator. It’s even more encouraging to see them stay in the local area and ecosystem. This really demonstrates we are building a critical mass of life science companies and that the Incubator plays a key role in the development of a broader Innovation District.”

Reporter

Franca Davenport

Franca Davenport
Communications and Public Affairs

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Email: press.office@imperial.ac.uk
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Comms-strategy-Entrepreneurial-ecosystem, Enterprise, Asthma, Artificial-intelligence, Healthcare, Lung-disease, White-City-Campus
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