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Groundbreaking at-home COVID test creator backed by £4.6m

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Vatic has raised £4.6million to deliver groundbreaking at-home testing, starting with COVID-19. 

Its first product, the KnowNow test, can identify infectious cases within 15 minutes using just a saliva sample. It is proven to have a very high accuracy rate even in low prevalence environments – unlike existing antigen testing solutions which can have a false positive rate of 1 in 200.

The KnowNow testing kit is already being used across the UK to identify infectious cases of COVID-19, and is playing a crucial role in the re-opening of the country and the return to office environments. 

Now, backed by its £4.6million fundraise, Vatic will use its new investment to scale globally and accelerate the deployment of its technology on a wide range of other acute diseases where frequent testing forms an essential part of the clinical response.

Vatic’s app technology currently enables users to create a health status and scan into venues. In the next phase of development, it will be possible to share at-home test results with GPs instantly, and enables the creation of health baselines for critical biomarkers that doctors can monitor over time. 

Patented chemistry enables the creation of tests that can detect biomarkers that cannot be detected with traditional lateral flow techniques, making it possible to encourage ongoing testing for diverse health conditions and significantly expand the possibilities for proactive digital healthcare provision.

Vatic has been working with some of the world’s leading occupational health teams at top consumer retail, transport and hospitality brands to pilot its technology in real-world environments.

Founded in 2019, the business is on a mission to deliver a new model of healthcare driven by ‘bringing the lab to the patient’ and generating data in the home – helping to spot acute diseases earlier and proactively monitor their progression with greater accuracy. 

Alex Sheppard

Alex Sheppard, co-founder and CEO of Vatic, explains: “One reason for the recent decline in the uptake of rapid COVID-19 tests is the sampling technique – it’s currently very uncomfortable and difficult for people to use. 

“We need to take the pain out of mass testing if we’re to return to normal to minimise the disruption caused by future COVID-19 outbreaks, whether in offices, schools or hospitality venues. That’s why we’ve built supportive bio security technology that sits  alongside the test, allowing users to generate their own unique QR codes to facilitate safe venue entry.”

Sheppard met his co-founder Mona Omir in Oxford at the Queen’s College bar on the first day of technology accelerator programme Entrepreneur First in September 2019. After discovering a common interest in healthtech solutions, they first raised funds for Vatic from top tier London investors and grant support from the University of Oxford and Innovate UK.

The two scientists then set about collaborating on predictive testing and tracking for the key ‘biomarkers’ which indicate acute disease incidence. However when the global pandemic hit in 2020, the team saw an urgent need for on-the-spot predictive screening for COVID-19.

Omir explains: “Importantly, the KnowNow test is only the first iteration of Vatic’s technology. Our innovation has been designed to identify other infectious viruses by mimicking the surface of a human cell – no other testing technology is capable of this. Following the success of the COVID-19 test we’re excited to deploy the technology into other areas of at-home testing.”

“The pandemic has accelerated the digital health landscape,” says Sheppard, “as well as transforming the  healthcare literacy of the population. Our awareness of our own health status has never been higher, yet despite all of our digital tools, getting the data inputs out of our bodies remains challenging! 

“In our view the greatest challenge in healthcare right now is equity of access and getting important health information straightaway. Relying on hospital visits to perform tests and track disease progression leads to delays and missed opportunities. 

“With our technology, we’ve created a new and robust way of bringing the lab to the patient – empowering people to get on-the-spot information in cases where immediacy really matters.”

Vatic’s latest round of funding was led by LocalGlobe and Hoxton Ventures with participation from Entrepreneur First. The company has also been supported by the Oxford Foundry and Innovate UK.

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