The Newcastle-based medical technology developer QuanutuMDx has launched an ambitious recruitment drive that could see it double headcount to around 100 as it pursues plans to become a listed company.
The firm, which is focussed on the development of a handheld diagnostic tool that can be used for everything from detecting infectious diseases to predicting drug efficacy in individual patients, also has plans to move from its current space at the International Centre for Life into larger city centre premises.
Having already taken on 11 new members of staff this year, the company hopes to bring 25 more on board by the end of 2015 as it moves towards full-scale commercialisation.
The new roles will be largely in research and development, along with software engineers, biologists and bioengineers.
“This is a massive recruitment drive, because we will have major funding round before hopefully moving towards an IPO,” said chief executive Elaine Warburton.
“At one stage, we could have been acquired, but we know we’ve got something very special and now there’s no reason why we couldn’t become listed.
“A similar company to ours in Belgium has done it and we believe that we can too. We want to become a big company, flying the British flag, with a base in Newcastle.”
The plans represent a pivotal moment in the development of QuantuMDx, which was incorporated in 2008, after inventor Jonathan O’Halloran committed to integrating technologies from a range of industries that combine speed, convenience and low cost with accuracy.
The company’s core product, Q-POC, works through reading and sequencing DNA before converting it into binary code using a tiny computer chip. The same hand-held device can be used to diagnose a range of diseases through using different cartridges.
Having already received support through grants and a crowdfunding campaign, QuantuMDx - which also has a presence in the United States and Singapore - is now opening a new £5m round of investment, before launching an ambitious £25m C round, blending venture capital and strategic investment, paving the way for the IPO.
By the end of the year, the business hopes to “lock down” the device specification, developing commercial prototypes before handing the product over to manufacturers.
If all goes to plan, the Q-POC will be in production by the end of 2016, the first tests within the NHS being focussed on warfarin tolerance.
“It is all about personalised medicine,” Mrs Warburton said. “In developed countries, we’ll begin with the warfarin, chlamydia and gonorrhea, and, in developing countries, TB.
“But ultimately there will be wide array of tests that we are working on with partners.”
She added that the company was proud to boost employment in the North East, with its “huge amount of talent”.
Although it would be relocating, it would also maintain strong links with Newcastle University, built through its laboratory space at the Centre for Life.
“It’s a very exciting time for us and daunting at the same time,” Mrs Warburton said.
“We are on the cusp of something so great and so game-changing in medicine. This time next year, we will be a very different company.”
Chief science officer Jonathan O’Halloran said: “We have developed and integrated the underlying technologies required for 15-minute infectious disease diagnosis.
“Now we are looking to expand our software and engineering teams in order to deliver our Q-POC device, which we expect will change the face of modern medicine in both developed and developing nations.”