Nano-technology firm's cash injection could be kernel for global growth

Announcing the Causeway cash injection are (from left) Jayne Brady, Kernel Capital; Dr. Bob Pollard, Causeway Sensors; William McCulla, Invest NI; and Odhran McNeilly, Bank of Ireland. Photo: Brian Morison
Gary McDonald Business Editor

A QUEEN'S University spin-out firm developing nano-structures which may ultimately revolutionise medical technology has been given a £500,000 shot in the arm from a bank-run cash pot.

Causeway Sensors, which has developed novel chips for sensing applications accompanied with a reading device for the detection and measurement of various proteins and antibodies, is preparing to take the next step in its evolution from an early spin-out to a more mature venture.

And it has received a massive equity injection from the Bank of Ireland Kernel Capital Growth Fund, created to help SMEs in the north to accelerate their growth.

Founded by academics Dr Robert Pollard, Prof Robert Bowman and Dr John Nelson, Causeway Sensors is focused on the global biosensor industry which is expected to reach $22 billion by 2020.

The company’s pioneering technology has emerged from more than years of research in Queen's University which was partly supported by Invest NI via a research and development grant.

The capability to sense the presence of low levels of proteins and their interactions means that Causeway’s technology can be used as a diagnostic instrument across multiple applications including the detection of early-stage cancer and other diseases, food security and drug discovery.

Causeway Sensors will use this investment to commercialise its technology, with an initial focus on the growing area of medical diagnostics.

Kernel Capital partner Jayne Brady said: “It's great to see another Queen's University spin-out thriving. This investment will help Causeway develop the potential of its nanotechnology and grow and scale both nationally and internationally, while also stimulating the local economy and creating new employment opportunities in areas where Northern Ireland has world class leadership.”

Dr Pollard, who is the company's chief executive, added: "The investment will allow us to expedite our growth plans to commercialise and scale our technology.”

Among Causeway's directors is Dr Hugh Cormican, who as founder of the former Andor Technology (now Oxford Instruments) successfully took an idea from the Queen's laboratories to the London Stock Exchange, and who believed this new company can go global.

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