SwabTech successfully raised £580,000 in its 2016 round on SyndicateRoom.

The story

SwabTech is an NHS spin-out developing a medical device to recover a patient’s own blood from swabs during surgery, supplementing an existing blood recovery process and providing significant benefits to patients, surgical staff, hospitals and healthcare services and systems.

SwabTech is part of the blood recovery market, which is expected to be worth US$49.16bn globally by 2019.

SwabTech has built on a well-known technique where blood lost during surgery is collected and cleaned before being returned to the same patient.

This can be significantly safer and cheaper than using donated blood, however, collecting blood is currently a manual process, where scrub nurses rinse and wring swabs to collect blood to be cleaned and returned to the patient.

SwabTech’s solution allows minimal operator intervention, enabling scrub nurses to focus on assisting the surgeon as well as ensuring faster, cleaner and more efficient blood recovery. It has the potential to contribute to improved patient blood management practices in the more mature healthcare economies, and save lives in countries with less well developed blood transfusion infrastructures.

The SwabTech Surgical Swab-Washer consists of a re-usable hardware element and a per-patient single-use disposable – a consumable product.

Although it is only in the prototype stage, SwabTech’s product has already attracted significant press attention.

Investor Paul Jones, Quantitative Analyst at Lloyds Bank Couterparty and Credit Risk, gave a testimonial to explain what attracted him to the round:

‘The reason why I invested in SwabTech was the team, especially having met two of the founders, Prof Jameel and Marcus Orton (the CEO), at the SyndicateRoom Bridging the Equity Divide event. There are two things that I like about SwabTech’s team: a collective skill set that can bring a healthcare product to market, and a sense of “realness” from them; when I was discussing the product with them I didn’t feel I was being “pitched”.

‘It is good to see that SwabTech has support from several areas. This includes TrusTECH, an NHS innovation hub that also represents the interest of the three NHS Trusts with shares in SwabTech. Then there is the investment from Spark Impact – a fund management business operating within the UK with a focus on early-stage businesses and biomedical innovations; with this are the grants from NIHR and Innovate UK, whose SMART award will be fully accessed as a result of this funding round. This third-party interest from professional organisations is always reassuring to the investor and I personally look for it when doing my due diligence.’

Another of Swabtech's investors, who prefers to remain anonymous, said:

‘Speaking as one who is unable to give blood so easily, I feel a social responsibility to support such a product and company on a number of levels – not least the feeling that other regions of the world may not have such easy access to blood banks. The business idea seems sound, although the risk of copycats is a concern. A product such as this will surely benefit by the background of the team, credibility and quality, rather than by having the cheapest price. Hence, I invested. Good luck.’

SwabTech’s SyndicateRoom round was led by Catapult Ventures, which invested £400,000.

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