Micropore Technologies Ltd is planning a £270,000 expansion project with the help of a £110,000 investment from UK Steel Enterprise, the Tata Steel business-support subsidiary, and £100,000 from the North East Angel Fund managed by Rivers Capital Partners.

Micropore’s patented membrane emulsification and encapsulation process is in growing demand across the pharmaceutical, food, agro-chemicals, aerospace and research sectors.  Since spinning out from Loughborough University’s formulation research group in 2003[1], the partnership remains strong with the knowledge flow benefitting Micropore and its client base and enhancing research impact.

After working with a wide range of industries on trials and feasibility studies, Micropore has  successfully scaled up its process to industrial production level and is growing both its team and customer base.  At a significant stage in its development, the company re-located from the East Midlands to the Wilton Centre in Redcar, choosing Teesside for the strength of the formulation knowledge base[2] and supply chain, employable skill base, calibre of investors and quality of premises.

Micropore’s process uses a sieve-type membrane to engineer droplets and particles to a uniform size using a process known as membrane emulsification. The company’s expertise, patented equipment and services are sought by manufacturers of foods, medicines, cosmetics and even rocket fuel looking to innovate and produce a high quality, cost-effective product with reduced material wastage.

“We have strong working relationships with a portfolio of exciting and exacting clients and work confidentially with them on their novel, leading-edge formulation developments across a wide range of market sectors,” said Chief Executive Dai Hayward. “We are leading the field in a market with huge potential and expect to more than double our five-strong team of highly skilled scientists and engineers.

“The UK market alone has room for considerable growth but we also have a sales office in the USA that accounts for 20 to 25% of the company’s business.  A recent trade mission to India has led to some new and exciting growth opportunities and we are looking to increase overseas interest.

“The investments from UK Steel Enterprise and Rivers Capital were vital as this is the right time for us to make a strong move forward.  Over the past year we have made a significant breakthrough in scaling up the technology and growing our order book.  This expansion project reflects the growing blue-chip client base that we are attracting.”

The company’s new Business Development Manager, David Palmer, is already in post and playing an important part in the company’s growth plans.

Sarah Thorpe of investor UK Steel Enterprise said:  “Micropore is operating at the leading edge of this technology and has an impressive and experienced management team.  We are very pleased to be supporting the company’s growth on Teesside from our Equity Growth Fund, backed by the government’s Regional Growth Fund, and to be co-investing with Rivers Capital.   This project demonstrates what can be done when investors, advisers and businesses work in close partnership.”

Dr Michael Dickens, Fund Manager, Rivers Capital Partners said: “The North East Angel Fund provides specialist early-stage funding for innovative small businesses so Micropore is an ideal fit.  The company is ripe for expansion with a wealth of knowledge.   We are happy to be working alongside UK Steel Enterprise as, despite a number of different investors and advisers being involved, it has been a smooth and successful process.”

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PICTURE CAPTION: Dai Hayward, (centre), Chief Executive, Micropore Technologies Ltd with Sarah Thorpe of UK Steel Enterprise and Dr Michael Dickens of Rivers Capital Partners.

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Note 1. The underpinning research for Micropore’s patented process was developed at Loughborough University with the support of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Technology transfer activity was funded by HEFCE’s Higher Education Innovation Fund.

Note 2. Micropore’s relocation to the North East was also positively influenced by the recent establishment of the CPI National Formulation Centre, HVM process technology innovation cluster in the North East.

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