Supported by Innovate UK EDGE to raise funding and finance, UK medical start-up Flomark is making IV drips safer for patients.
Most of us have seen intravenous (IV) drips: the bags of liquid on stands connected by a small tube to hospital patients’ arms, enabling essential fluids and nutrients to be delivered directly and quickly into the patient’s bloodstream.
The problem has been that measuring how much liquid a given IV drip delivers, in a given time, is a very hit-or-miss affair. Nurses have to stand and count the drops coming out of an IV drip, and keep an eye on their watch as they do so. That’s a major drain on nurses’ time, and the temptation for them is not to do it at all. The result is that patients are routinely either over- or under-infused, and both situations are dangerous: though it is hard to quantify the harm overall, there have been cases where patients have died because mistakes were made with their drips.
A new IV drip set designed by UK start-up Flomark Ltd is set to change all that. The set, called the Flomark Consumable, makes it possible to see at a glance how fast fluid is flowing through it, and entering the patient. This frees nurses up (it leads to an estimated 69% time saving). And it is something that can be produced in the huge numbers that hospitals need, very cheaply.
Flomark Ltd is a spin-out from the Royal College of Art, showing how medical science and Arts expertise can come together (Flomark’s CEO Jonathan West is a specialist in mechanical engineering, who became interested in user-centred design processes).
The Flomark system, which includes four patented pieces of technology, is based on a very sophisticated understanding of flow geometry, but it can be manufactured at the same cost as existing devices.
Help with 'the hard yards of commercialisation'
As Jonathan West puts it, while Flomark had developed a great piece of technology, the company needed help with ‘the hard yards of commercialisation.’ That’s why it turned to Innovate UK EDGE Innovation and Growth Specialist Christopher Buckland, who began working with Flomark in June 2020.
First, Christopher gave Flomark a constructive appraisal of its application to the Innovate UK Smart Grant competition, which supports game-changing and commercially viable innovation. Though the company had previously applied and been unsuccessful, having finessed its approach and resubmitted it received an award of £496,770.
Investment readiness support raises finance
Christopher also worked with Flomark as the company prepared to embark on an equity fundraise. He provided coaching on becoming investment-ready, worked with Flomark to explore its investment strategy, and helped the company to develop a pitch deck, business plan and financial forecasts. He also suggested that Flomark approach the Oxford Investment Opportunity Network, which is one of the oldest and largest networks of angel investors in the UK. This work paid off in impressive style in 2021, with Flomark raising £401K from angel investors to further develop and commercialise its disruptive innovation.
Flomark is now working with an Indian manufacturer, has a UK distributor lined up, and is working to clear the regulatory hurdles that will enable it to sell its IV set to the NHS. Soon, the Flomark Consumable could be reducing the burden of UK hospital staff, and improving the safety of UK patients.