Discovery Fund makes latest investment in Sphere Fluidics

The Discovery Fund recently made its second investment in a new University spin-out that is developing water droplets that serve as ‘miniature test tubes’.

The Fund has made a seed investment in Sphere Fluidics, which was formed earlier this month. The company aims to commercialise picolitre droplet technology, which enables researchers to carry out large numbers of simultaneous reactions contained within small water droplets a fraction of a millimetre in size.

The picodroplet platform was developed by Professors Chris Abell and Wilhelm Huck of the Department of Chemistry. When the droplets are merged with others containing, for example, a specific chemical reagent, they effectively act as miniature reaction chambers that can be exposed to a unique set of experimental conditions. The technology has potential uses across a wide variety of fields, including drug discovery and algal biofuel development. The platform is an alternative to existing techniques, offering greater control and automation, and improved efficiency.

We are very excited to invest in the technology which Chris, Wilhelm and their team have developed, as it has huge academic and commercial potential. We look forward to seeing Sphere Fluidics continue to grow in the years to come.

Dr Geraldine Rodgers

Dr Frank Craig has been recruited as CEO, and the investment from the Discovery Fund will support the new company as it searches for its first customers and additional funding, with the objective of being self-sustaining within 12 months.

Dr Geraldine Rodgers, Head of Seed Funds at Cambridge Enterprise, which manages the Discovery Fund, said, “We are very excited to invest in the technology which Chris, Wilhelm and their team have developed, as it has huge academic and commercial potential. We look forward to seeing Sphere Fluidics continue to grow in the years to come.”

The Discovery Fund is one of three evergreen Seed Funds managed by Cambridge Enterprise, the University’s commercialisation office. Launched in 2008 as part of the University’s 800th Anniversary Campaign, the Discovery Fund provides proof of concept, pre-licence, pre-seed and seed investments to new ideas with commercial value arising from University research. The Discovery Fund has an initial target of £5 million, and made its first investment earlier this year. For more information on the Discovery Fund, visit www.alumni.cam.ac.uk/campaign.

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