A Norfolk company raised $2 million to fund development of a novel treatment for bladder disorders within 18 months of receiving pitch training through Enterprise Europe Network.
UroPharma CEO Howard Shapland is now embarking on a $25 million funding round in the US to help bring the company’s catheterised drug delivery technology to market.
He acknowledges that after starting the business in 2013 with co-founder Professor Scott Glickman, he lacked the skills to pitch effectively to investors, which is why he first approached EEN in the East of England.
EEN adviser Kirsten Masson met with the company to help them consider their funding requirements to develop their technology and bring it to market.
As well as signalling appropriate grant opportunities, Kirsten arranged for UroPharma to take place in an EEN Pitchfest programme in Cambridge, delivered with EEN’s partner organisation, Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), to provide pitch and investor-readiness training.
EEN and KTN work together as part of Innovate UK’s family of connecting services. EEN had been working with UroPharma following the latter’s £25,000 Innovate UK grant in 2015 for a proof-of-market study.
UroPharma has benefited from ongoing support from the EEN team as they continue their fundraising journey. Howard has no doubt about the value of the pitch training, saying: “Within 18 months we had raised $2 million in seed finance.
“The lesson is: you must have a presentation that investors can understand and you must get the message over in the first few slides.”
UroPharma’s drug delivery innovation not only promises greater dosing accuracy, reliability and safety and fewer side-effects than standard oral or injection treatments but also minimises the risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Potential sales of UroPharma’s novel technology have been independently estimated at over $500 million, with a discounted cash flow valuation of $143.9 million from a total market opportunity of $7 billion for direct-to-bladder treatments. The global urinary catheter market is worth $2.5 billion alone.
Howard added: “Much as inhalers transformed treatment for lung conditions, our technology is very disruptive to the market and can have a major impact through change from oral therapeutics with a number of different products.
“Using atropine as the drug, it can benefit multiple sclerosis patients and others with overactive or painful bladder syndrome. We are suppressing directly the sensory system to relax the bladder and give them a few hours relief from going to the toilet. That represents a substantial improvement in their quality of life.”
UroPharma is involved in a three-year project with the University of Wisconsin, working on nanotechnology-based anti-infective (not antibiotic) sustained drug release treatment which suppresses and prevents UTIs.
With 23 patents granted and a similar number pending, the company is also in the process of contracting with a German manufacturing partner.
“We are now able to enter the UK market with a ‘special medicinal product’ and expect to be generating revenue by the end of this year. After we break into the US market we see potential revenue of $213 million in five years.”
“Within six months of completing our Pitchfest with EEN we were starting to attract money.”
Howard Shapland, CEO, UroPharma