Queen Mary Innovation, the university’s technology transfer arm, has helped Enterika Ltd secure funding from the Queen Mary Investment Fund (QMIF) – a new fund to help commercialise the university’s world-class research and to support early-stage business spinouts.
Enterika Ltd is the first company to be supported by the QMIF. The company is developing weight-loss products aimed at tackling obesity, which is a significant risk factor for a range of chronic diseases. Enterika was successful with securing an Innovate UK grant to further develop the technology and has the support and interest from several investors.
Dr Madusha Peiris, the founder of Enterika and a lecturer and group leader in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, said: “Enterika is delighted to be the inaugural spinout supported by QMIF. Accessing such funding is critical during the early stages of fund raising as it provides matched funding support for research grants such as those from Innovate UK, while providing other investors with the confidence to co-invest.”
Dr Peiris was previously featured on Channel 4 programme "How to beat... Fat". Dr Peiris devised a colon-targeted nutraceutical approach – a 'fat pill' – to promote weight loss by reducing calorie intake in obese people thereby preventing associated health complications.
The capsules contain a cocktail of nutrients designed to get the body to produce hormones that reduce the appetite. The nutrients all come from natural ingredients found in common foods (broccoli, coconut oil and perilla oil). Dr Peiris says those nutrients were chosen because they contain medium-chain fatty acids, which the group have shown to trigger the colon into substantially increasing release of the appetite-reducing hormones PYY and GLP-1, which makes people feel full..
Queen Mary has patented IP on the unique combination of nutrients that Dr Peiris and her team have invented. Because the pills contain natural ingredients, they should reach shop shelves much quicker than a synthetic drug would, without having to go through 20 years of efficacy, safety, and toxicology.
Deborah Carter, Associate Commercialisation Director at QMI, said: “We would like to congratulate Madusha Peiris and the team at Enterika on their achievements so far in securing the first investment from the fund.”
Queen Mary launched the QMIF to help commercialise its world-class research and to support early-stage businesses spinouts. The aim of the fund is to enable spinouts to bridge the gap to venture capital seed investment. Queen Mary Innovation works closely with the founders to assist them in building the venture and to meet the investment criteria of the fund.
The investment criteria include securing leveraged funding, plans to meet a seed investment milestone, and validation/testimonials from potential seed investors.
Explaining why the investment fund was set up, Dr Adam Daykin, Associate Commercialisation Director at QMI said: “QMI noticed an increasing number of early-stage ventures were finding it difficult to overcome a significant investment hurdle due to a misalignment of the requirements of investors, and the commercial readiness of the start-up.”