NEWS8 April 2024

Vidiia secures major investment to accelerate innovation

Decorative image showing the Vidiia logo - AI powered diagnostics

The journey of a start-up is an exhilarating adventure marked by securing investment and many other key milestones.

Securing investment is essential to propel the business forward. For SETsquared Surrey member Vidiia, a pioneering force in the realm of artificial intelligence (AI)-driven diagnostic testing, the recent injection of investment capital totalling £625,000 heralds a new era of transformative growth and impact.

Originally spun out from three leading UK universities – the University of Surrey, Brunel University London and Lancaster University – in June 2020, Vidiia has emerged over the last four years as one to watch. Under the visionary leadership of founder and seasoned entrepreneur David Rimer, the company has pioneered a cutting-edge tech platform designed to revolutionise diagnostic development and deployment by leveraging low-cost, portable, IoT and AI-powered devices and democratising assay development.

Vidiia’s mission centres on developing innovative technologies to address real-world challenges in infectious disease control on a global scale. However, the origins of this journey trace back to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic when David’s company, situated at Surrey Research Park, pivoted to producing medical visors using 3D printers. The experience ignited his interest in decentralised testing solutions, prompting him to harness his engineering expertise and explore the realm of molecular testing, recognised for its ability to detect pathogens at an early stage.

At the core of Vidiia’s approach lies the fusion of AI technology with diagnostic assays, a synergy that promises to redefine point-of-care testing. Hardware that is equipped to perform up to six tests concurrently, the device addresses the pressing need for efficient, accessible and affordable diagnostic solutions. It delivers on speed, accuracy, reliability and user-friendliness, while its portability allows deployment in various settings, from clinical laboratories to field-based environments.

Collaborating with prestigious academic institutions such as the University of Surrey, David unearthed untapped intellectual property (IP) related to test development, previously overlooked for commercialisation. One notable example was a tuberculosis speciation test conceived in Ghana and developed by a Ghana-based scientist, funded through a Vice Chancellor studentship. Vidiia transformed this research into a viable product, leveraging its platform to optimise and validate the assay for real-world applications.

Through strategic partnerships and funding initiatives like the Medical Research Council, Vidiia progressed from initial trials to larger-scale studies, demonstrating the viability of its decentralised testing solutions. “We’re now currently in discussions with a foundation,” explains David. “While it’s not finalised yet, we’re endeavouring to secure funding for a 12-month country wide pilot in Ghana. This study will provide a comprehensive dataset, advancing the product toward commercialisation, marking a significant milestone in our impact-driven initiatives.”

As it stands, Vidiia is working on 12 assays spanning a range of topics, from calf pneumonia to how the DNA repairs itself when exposed to radiotherapy. David highlights commercialisation as Vidiia’s main challenge, with the secured £625k investment crucial for its realisation.

The vision for Vidiia extends beyond individual assays, aiming to democratise assay development and drive down costs. “Securing the funding is a testament to the potential of our platform and the confidence investors have in our mission,” says David. “It propels us toward our goal of revolutionising diagnostic testing.”

David demonstrated an exceptionally proactive approach to expanding his network and securing investment capital. Initially engaging with hundreds of potential investors to narrow down to four, he explored diverse avenues – from recommendations by the Vice Chancellor of the University of Surrey to finance-focused events and speed-dating-style bioscience investor meet-ups.

David strategically used LinkedIn to connect with investors, resulting in £625k investment from two universities and two private investors.

A key catalyst in Vidiia’s journey has been its partnership with the SETsquared Surrey business incubator. Through SETsquared’s comprehensive support ecosystem, the start-up has gained access to invaluable resources, mentorship and pro bono expertise. David explains: “The opportunity to have a dedicated desk at the Surrey Technology Centre, complete with access to meeting rooms and facilities, provides us with a professional environment conductive to productivity and growth.”

He delves further into the collaborative environment fostered by SETsquared, highlighting the pivotal role of its network of mentors and professionals. “Their guidance and support have been instrumental, particularly during critical phases of Vidiia’s development. The incubator also serves as an excellent platform for nurturing business relationships. Just recently, I attended a networking event organised by SETsquared and forged a promising connection with a prospective customer. I make it a point to attend as many of these events as possible.”

Vidiia aims to bridge academia-industry gap, eyeing collaborations with European universities to enhance its business strategy. As the company relentlessly pushes boundaries and secures more investment, its mission to revolutionise AI-driven diagnostics is unwavering. Brace yourselves for the next chapter in healthcare innovation – Vidiia is just getting started and we’re eager to see what’s next!