Port Talbot-based Hybrisan secures £500,000 to help fight Covid-19

Author

Development Bank of Wales

19 May 2020

Port Talbot-based Hybrisan has joined the fight against the Covid 19 pandemic having secured £500,000 equity investment from the Development Bank of Wales, private investors and a Smart Cymru grant from the Welsh Government.

Hybrisan manufacture liquid sanitiser and use advanced nanotechnology to produce highly advanced material, impregnated with the liquid sanitiser for use in high quality personal protective equipment (PPE) for the NHS and other frontline workers. The liquid sanitiser developed by Hybrisan is 99.999% effective in killing coronavirus without alcohol, even on surfaces.

Established in 2014 by Chief Executive Dr Lee Bridgeman and his team to conduct research in the life sciences sector, Hybrisan has temporarily moved all its production to combat Covid-19.

Having recently developed an electrospinning recipe which allows the sanitiser liquid to be spun by a cutting edge machine into ultrafine fibres (nanofibres), Hybrisan is now working closely with Welsh Government and other PPE manufacturers to scale up production of electrospun filters for use in facemasks.

The business has used venture capital from the Development Bank of Wales and private investors, as well as Smart Cymru funding. The Smart Cymru grant is to fund further development of antimicrobial non-woven materials. These form the basis of the filter systems they are developing for use in face masks. Whilst the Development Bank investment has been used to purchase a new electrospinning machine, to enable them to scale up production.

Dr Lee Bridgeman, CEO, said: “It has been well documented that nanofibrous material – like those developed by Hybrisian – protect against harmful bacteria. We have studied these properties in depth and have now developed products that are proving to be extremely effective against both harmful bacteria and viruses. Our expertise in this field has prepared us for the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic and we are pleased to have been able to develop products which will help.”

Dr Chris Mortimer, Technical Director, has a PhD in nanotechnology, with expertise in electrospinning at scale and antimicrobial materials. He is taking the lead on scaling up production of their products for use in PPE. He said: “The help we have had from the Development Bank and Smart Cymru is integral to our efforts to help fight Covid 19. With the support we have received we have been able to order our first electrospinning machine. This completely transforms the plans of the business and allows us to develop nanofibres fit for face mask filtration (up to FFP3 level). Following this we will return to our original business plans where we can revolutionise the wound care market with our novel antimicrobial dressing for chronic wounds.”

Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, Ken Skates, said: “We asked industry in Wales to play their part in helping us respond to the many challenges presented by coronavirus and to provide critical supplies to our healthcare heroes on the frontline.

“I am delighted that with help from our SMART Cymru scheme and investment from the Development Bank of Wales, Hybrisan has adapted its business strategy and working procedures to do just that.

“We welcome their production of a variety of sanitising solutions, while work developing innovative face mask filters and materials could prove pivotal in establishing a reliable and resilient supply chain in Wales for this vital form of PPE.

“I would like to thank Hybrisan for their commitment to our efforts to support the NHS and help save lives as we work to defeat this virus.”

Sarah Smith, Technology Investment Executive with the Development Bank of Wales said: “Technology businesses everywhere have stepped up to the challenge of fighting the current coronavirus pandemic. Hybrisan’s advanced technology is innovative not only for its ability to be effective against Coronavirus but also other exciting applications. We’re delighted to be able to support them as they scale up their manufacturing to help support the fight against Covid-19 with effective PPE.  Our equity investment has given the business confidence to scale up and commercialise its technology. We’re looking forward to working with the team on their current and future endeavours”.

Leanne Thomas of Greenaway Scott (part of the GS Verde Group) advised Hybrisan and Catherine Golledge of Capital Law acted for the Development Bank of Wales.

The first filters for masks will be available in the next few weeks, with the liquid sanitiser solution available to buy online at https://www.hybrisan.com/shop-1

NOTES

Media queries contact: Manon Eyton  – manon@wearecowshed.co.uk / 07849 806532

Photo caption: Left to right:  “Dr Chris Mortimer, Technical Director and Dr Lee Bridgeman, CEO of Hybrisan”

  • Fighting an enveloped virus

Viruses are different from bacteria. They are usually much smaller than bacteria – for example the measles virus is eight times smaller than E.coli bacteria. Unlike bacteria nearly all viruses cause disease.

Viruses are microscopic parasites and need a host to survive and multiply. They are made up of DNA and RNA – the building blocks of life – contained within a membrane. Once inside a host’s body they hijack existing cells in order to multiply and spread, causing disease.

SARS-CoV-2 – the coronavirus which causes Covid 19 is an enveloped virus. The viral DNA and RNA is protected by a lipid membrane. Without the lipid membrane the DNA and RNA contained within the virus cannot survive and cause infection. By breaking down the relatively sensitive lipid membrane it is possible to deactivate the virus and eliminate the threat of disease. This can be done in a number of ways, through hand washing, bleaching surfaces, using high alcohol sanitizers and using aqueous sanitizers with antimicrobial properties like those developed by Hybrisan.

  • How does electrospinning work?

Hybrisan use electrospinning to turn their virus and bacteria fighting liquid into a nonwoven nanofibre. It is mainly used for bioscience and medical needs.

Electrospinning uses a high voltage to produce fibres from a polymer solution. A current is passed through the solution causing it to be accelerated towards a collector. This allows the structure to be randomly arranged into a delicate solid state. These ultrafine fibres, often referred to as nanofibres, can then be used as a nonwoven fabric.

Hybrisan has been using this technique to create antimicrobial fibres – fibres which can repel or kill harmful bacteria and viruses. One of the main uses in the fight against Covid 19 is in specialist filters for face masks. This allows medical staff to work more safely with patients who have the disease.

Additional quotes:

  • Leanne Thomas, Director of Greenaway Scott (part of the GS Verde Group) advised Hybrisan. She said:

“We are delighted to have assisted Hybrisan Ltd on their recent fund raise, and it was a pleasure dealing with the Directors.   Hybrisan are a great example of an innovative welsh manufacturer, who are agile enough to pivot and respond to needs, which in this case couldn’t be more essential.   We look forward to seeing them get to work in the fight against COVID-19.”

GS Verde Group is a multidiscipline advisory business that specialises in advice on mergers and acquisitions. The Group provides corporate finance and legal services. The legal team at Greenaway Scott was recently rated the most active M&A advisors in Wales by Experian.

  • The Development Bank was advised by Catherine Golledge from Capital Law. She said:

“Welsh manufacturers are playing a key role in the fight against the coronavirus, so it’s crucial that they access the right level of support. To scale up the production of their innovative facemask filters, Hybrisan required significant investment. It’s been brilliant to help the Development Bank of Wales answer their call, and we look forward to seeing this business revolutionise the market in response to the current crisis.”

Capital Law is a commercial law firm, working nationally and internationally with organisations of all sizes – from large corporations to those just starting up – across the private, public, and third sectors. We also work closely with our sister consultancy business, Capital People, which specialises in organisational development, human resources and health and safety.

  About the Development Bank of Wales

  • The Development Bank of Wales was set up by the Welsh Government to support the economy of Wales by making it easier for businesses to get the finance needed to start up, strengthen and grow. The purpose of the Development Bank is to unlock potential in the economy of Wales by increasing the provision of sustainable, effective finance in the market.
  • Launched in October 2017 it is a cornerstone organisation for delivery of public sector financial products, supporting micro to medium businesses in Wales and increasing the supply of finance. It promotes economic development through an adaptable delivery model that is responsive to market needs whilst providing continued value for money for public funds. It delivers key Welsh Government policy objectives measured through performance targets and providing investment management and support services across the whole of Welsh Government.
  • The Development Bank of Wales invested £80m across 420 investments in the financial year 18/19 which in turn attracted £126m in private sector investment.

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Development Bank of Wales Plc (Banc Datblygu Cymru ccc) is the holding company of a Group that trades as Development Bank of Wales. The Group is made up of a number of subsidiaries which are registered with names including the initials DBW. Development Bank of Wales Plc is a development finance company wholly owned by the Welsh Ministers and it is neither authorised nor regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The Development Bank of Wales has three subsidiaries which are authorised and regulated by the FCA. Please note that neither the Development Bank of Wales Plc nor any of its subsidiaries are banking institutions or operate as such. This means that none of the group entities are able to accept deposits from the public. A complete legal structure chart for Development Bank of Wales Plc can be found at www.developmentbank.wales.

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