Diversified business group The Barkby Group has invested £500,000 via a convertible loan agreement (CLA) in VivoPlex Group, a digital health company focusing on fertility and women’s health.

VivoPlex’s first product is a wireless, battery free medical device to measure pH, temperature and dissolved oxygen level in the uterus continuously for up to seven days. The data from this is used by clinicians seeking to optimise and personalise current fertility treatments and improve IVF success rates.

Abington, Oxfordshire-based VivoPlex is one of the Barkby investments which its owners, the Dickson family, had originally via contacts at the University of Southampton in 2015. The academic founders required funding to commercialise the technology and develop a novel medical device. The Dickson Family formed VivoPlex with the academic founders and begun funding the project. In 2018 VivoPlex completed a £3 million Series A funding round led by the Dickson family. The Dickson family has invested approximately £1.4 million over the past four years and has two VivoPlex board seats in. The family own 41.1% of the issued share capital of VivoPlex.

The new investment is being funded through the repayment of the group’s convertible loan note from Transcend Packaging. This takes the group’s total investment in VivoPlex to £2.5 million.

The CLA has a term of 36 months and an interest rate of 8% per annum, which is non-compounding, and, if payable, will accrue daily. The CLA will convert to equity at a 20% discount to the lowest price paid by investors.

VivoPlex’s recent fundraising is the second tranche of its clinical stage funding round, which included investment from the future fund. The proceeds will be used for a clinical feasibility study, given approval by the Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and the relevant ethics committee in April 2020, whose start was delayed by Covid-19. The investment will also be used to gain a European CE mark for its first product, which will enable VivoPlex to sell the product in the market.

Charles Dickson, executive chairman of the Barkby Group, said: “I am delighted that Barkby is able to continue supporting VivoPlex as it aims to transform fertility treatment and revolutionise understanding and improvement of women’s health. The business is making excellent progress and we expect their first clinical feasibility study to conclude in Q1 2021.”

Date published: August 3, 2020

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