Galway-based biotech Embricon is seeking funding to bring its first product, a medical tool to treat varicose veins, to market.

A spin-out of NUI Galway, Embricon has already raised e500,000 to commercialise the product. Its target is e2 million in private investment and a further e1.2 million in grant funding.   

The firm has a history of success in the funding field. It secured finance under Enterprise Ireland's High Potential Start-up Scheme shortly after its launch in 2005.

The Early Stage

Early-stagefunding was also provided by founders Sherif Sultan, a consulting vascular and endovascular surgeon based in University College Hospital, Galway, and technology manager Marto Hoary. According to Embricon's chief executive John Corcoran, however, the funding environment for start-ups has changed significantly since early 2008.

"The change in the economy has forced us to rethink how we have approached the market. We have to go through different funding routes and sources, and also we have to cut our cloth to suit the environment," said Corcoran.

In response to changing market conditions, Embricon has cut its headcount from seven to four. However, the firm is forging ahead with plans to establish its product in the international marketplace.

Corcoran believes the company's varicose treatment is a commercially viable, safe and minimally invasive alternative to the existing surgical and laser treatments available on the market.

He said that, although more than 125 million people worldwide were believed to have varicose veins, just three million opted to have them treated.

"If the treatment was more palatable, that population could rise dramatically and our product should be able to address that market. Embricon's product fits right into the middle of the market. We're hoping to produce a product that is low-cost," he said.

The Next Stage

The firm has trialled a prototype version of the product and has also secured IP rights. The next stage will be to secure regulatory approval and carry out pre-market trials.

If Embricon's funding plans go according to plan, Corcoran said it could potentially bring the product to market within the next two years. It is working with a global advisory board of 40 surgeons and has plans to introduce more products in the future.

"We have become more visible in the market, attending trade shows and summits. We're more comfortable with our IP and that our product is protected," said Corcoran, who hopes to supply overseas markets directly in the early stages of commercialisation.

"Then, we can subcontract the manufacturing and align ourselves with a global manufacturing partner, or get acquired by larger players on the market," he said.


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