Innovate UK EDGE makes real difference for COVID-19 test kit producer

My DNA Health CEO Berenice Williams holding brochures for the Provirus service.

© My DNA Health

100,000
virus test kits sold
5
new jobs in the pipeline
£2m
turnover target by 2022

A Norwich life sciences company reacted quickly to the COVID-19 crisis, creating 10-minute virus test kits for workplaces and urban pop-up testing centres.

Vital support from Innovate UK EDGE has helped Proviris Solutions to generate revenue of more than £200,000. That is expected to reach at least £2 million over the next year, while adding five new jobs.

The company has sold more than 100,000 tests so far and an accompanying app, ProvirisPass, will hold all Covid-19 test results and display a negative certificate for travel and workplace requirements. 

Credit, commercialisation and internationalisation top the support agenda 

Innovate UK EDGE’s innovation and growth specialists, Penny Lord and Richard Carey-Evans, first became involved at the very start of the pandemic. 

Berenice and Malcolm Williams’ core business, My DNA Health, had been offering insights into nutrition and wellbeing but was feeling an immediate impact and they needed cash to survive. 

Penny used her contacts to alert a regional banking manager who ensured that a £250,000 trade credit facility was quickly made available.

The owners were now in a position to consider their options, with Innovate UK EDGE’s help. After providing general support on international opportunities, including projects in Turkey and the UAE, the Innovate UK EDGE team’s focus was firmly on commercialisation of the antigen virus test. 

Chief executive Berenice said: “The support we have received from Innovate UK EDGE has been so valuable to our start-up. 

“Innovate UK EDGE provides a solid sounding board for our senior team and we value the way they challenge our thinking. It helps us to think differently and consider different approaches to ensure our strategies and opportunities are achievable.”

From successful pilot to planning for growth

A major hurdle in gaining regulatory approval was to organise a pilot in a workplace. Penny and Richard solved that by making a crucial introduction to another of their client businesses, high-end Sussex silk products manufacturer Stephen Walters & Co.

Penny and Richard also persuaded them that a successful pilot had wider value. Leveraging it through PR yielded interviews on ITV and BBC TV, which led to approaches from more than 40 companies and a number of sales.

The rapid antigen test has been approved by the EU and Switzerland, the UK's accreditation body (UKAS), the Dubai Ministry of Health and Peru and is going through approvals in South Africa and Uruguay. It has also gained ISO standard accreditation and the company is working with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for further registration.

Innovate UK EDGE is now helping the company to develop a three-year strategic plan, looking at ways of scaling the business along with a structure for managing growth.
 

The support we have received from Innovate UK EDGE has been so valuable."

Bernie Williams, CEO and founder, Provirus Solutions