A Southampton company is exploring collaborative opportunities in Japan after developing a new way to speed up healing and rejuvenation in the body using a person’s own blood plasma.
Pplus Skin Care joined a mission earlier this year to Japan, organised by Enterprise Europe Network in the South West, as part of the Innovate UK-funded Global Business Accelerator programme.
The company has developed a pain-free, non-invasive and affordable treatment that is tailor-made to each individual and eliminates the risk of adverse or allergic reactions.
The aim of the visit was to help startups in the cell and gene therapy sector to commercialise their innovations through partnerships, collaborations and knowledge exchange with businesses and research organisations in Japan.
The company’s founder, Dr Mitra Najafi, said: “We made some really good contacts and explored the market. We also talked with some of the universities and science parks about potential collaboration opportunities. You can’t put a value on that. It was amazing.”
Access to a valuable support network
Enterprise Europe Network in the South of England, fulfilling its role within the Innovate UK family of services, had already helped Pplus Skin Care to apply successfully for funding from the Horizon 2020 programme.
That helped the company’s founder, Dr Mitra Najafi, to hire her first four employees and take the company to a new level.
Mitra said: “I first got in touch with EEN in December 2015 and they introduced me to several other organisations including Innovate UK and the Catapults. One introduction led to another and now I have a whole network of people helping and advising me.
“They’ve even set up meetings for me with potential investors. I can’t praise the support highly enough. If I’d been doing it on my own, it would have taken years longer. EEN has really helped to speed things up and help make me market ready.”
Potentially disruptive technology
EEN also helped Pplus Skin Care to secure £100,000 – half from Horizon 2020 and half from private investors – through the Innovate2Succeed mentoring programme.
The company is using this money to run a feasibility study on a device for storing blood plasma at room temperature, as well as developing prototypes which are now being tested by the University of Surrey.
This potentially disruptive technology could eventually replace more complicated and costly blood-freezing equipment.
Mitra has ambitious plans, setting a target revenue of £15 million from the UK market alone within five years of launching.
She is also aiming to break into the US and Japanese markets which would see this initial projection grow even further.
There is already an advisory board in place and Mitra plans to expand her team – from four employees currently, to around 25 by the end of 2022.
The support I’ve received from EEN has been fantastic – I’d give them ten out of ten. I just wish I’d known when I started up four years ago about the help that was available.
Dr Mitra Najafi, founder and CEO, Pplus Skin Care