A business which has developed a better and safer X-ray technology has completed a £1m funding round which will allow it to bring its systems to market.
IBEX Innovations, which is based in Sedgefield, County Durham, has secured investment from the new North East Venture Fund (NEVF), supported by the European Regional Development Fund and managed by Mercia Fund Managers, and an existing investor, IP Group plc.
The funding, which will create 13 new jobs, will help drive adoption of the IBEX technology in the global healthcare market.
IBEX’s systems, which fit to existing X-ray machines, improve the quality of images while reducing the dose of radiation which the patient receives. The technology, which will initially provide an important new test for the early detection of osteoporosis, has been proven in tests with major multinational medical imaging companies and in trials at both Newcastle‑upon‑Tyne Hospitals and South Tees NHS Trusts.
However, IBEX’s systems can also be deployed in other applications such as security scanners and in food testing, where studies have shown it can detect plastic in chocolate bars and glass particles in jars of baby food.
IBEX has raised over £3m in the past to help fund the research and development work. The latest investment marks a milestone for founder Dr Gary Gibson, who set up the company in 2010 to develop better screening techniques after losing two close relatives to cancer. The company has been led since 2013 by the current CEO Dr Neil Loxley.
Neil Loxley said: “We are delighted to have secured the funding from Mercia and IP Group that will enable us to meet our goal of become a leading provider of X-ray imaging technology to the $15bn medical imaging market. The funds will be used to finalise and certify the IBEX Trueview® product and to secure deals with more than five of the top medical imaging suppliers in the next three years.”
Ian Wilson, who leads Mercia’s team in the North East, added: “X-ray technology has advanced very little since it was first invented in 1895 and the images are still very basic. IBEX is bringing X-ray systems into the 21st century with enhanced images and improved patient safety. The funding will allow it to roll out its systems into clinics and hospitals and as a result improve patient care considerably.”
Andrew Mitchell, Chief Executive of The North East Fund, said: “This is the first investment in the Durham area by the North East Fund, which is helping to bring new jobs and economic growth to the North East. We are proud to support the growth and development of this innovative technology from Ibex.”
Sarah Slaven, Operations Director of Business Durham, said: “IBEX Innovations is a prime example of an innovative, world-class technology company thriving at NETPark, the North East’s premier science park. As one of our longstanding tenants at NETPark, we are delighted to see IBEX Innovations secure funding from the North East Fund to support their latest phase of growth.”
The NEVF can invest up to £1.0million for firms in Northumberland, Durham and Tyne & Wear, particularly those which are engaged in innovation or developing disruptive business models. Funding is available to all companies with high growth potential and also pre-start enterprises.