Growth Hub puts pioneering life sciences SME on track for market launch

Greater Manchester based MolMart has launched its pioneering prenatal genetic testing products, following support from GC Business Growth Hub’s innovation team.

The growing life sciences SME specialises in developing bespoke solutions to detect rare diseases in children and adults.

MolMart was launched in 2016 by molecular geneticist Markella Mikkelson, who specialised in pre-natal genetics in both the NHS and the private sector, and her business partner Harry Kontos. The pair wanted to bring innovative, cutting-edge technology to the field of genetic testing.

Markella recognised that if they were going to be successful in progressing their concept through validation and on to market launch, they would need the right support – so she approached the Hub, part of the Growth Company and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

“At MolMart, we are committed to making a difference to individuals’ health and the health of their families,” said Markella. “We want to help people to make important decisions at crucial stages in their lives, like when they are having children. Our products will help, by providing them with the knowledge to make important decisions at critical times.”

“But I’m not afraid to say when I need help and don’t know what to do next. The Hub has such a large number of specialist business advisors that they knew exactly what is suitable for our company whatever stage we were at.”

“I could have spent a long time looking for resources, support and funding, but their advisors were able to signpost us to the right support for our business.”

Since 2019, the Hub has supported Molmart through the:

Innovation Voucher funding scheme, designed to bolster business innovation by encouraging new research and development activities. MolMart secured £5,000 to help fund a product validation project with the University of Manchester’s School of Health Sciences.

MATMED programme, which brings healthcare innovations to market more efficiently via transnational collaboration throughout North West Europe. MolMart has been connected with key players in the fields of medical devices, advanced materials and regenerative medicine, to explore new opportunities to collaborate with researchers. The MATMED investment programme is supporting the company’s next stage funding rounds.

Boost4Health programme, a northern European life sciences network that ran until 2019. This enabled MolMart to connect with a specialist in non-invasive prenatal diagnosis (NIPD) platform in Denmark and provided 15,000 Euros to fund further studies.

Yvonne Grady, Innovation Lead at GC Business Growth Hub, said: “Innovation – the successful exploitation of a new idea, either in the market or within your business – has never been more important for SMEs.

“From our experience of supporting the innovation projects of 2,600 businesses in Greater Manchester since 2015, we know that being innovative leads to stronger turnover performance, better productivity and a higher level of competitiveness.

“But it’s often difficult to get new ideas moving. And that’s where we’re proud to be able to help businesses like MolMart to overcome the barriers, identify the opportunities for collaboration, and accelerate the route to market.”

Markella added: “When I first started an SME, I often felt like I had to reinvent the wheel; however, I soon realised this isn’t the case. Find the right people to speak to, like the team at GC Business Growth Hub, who can guide you through the process.

“The advisors have so much specialist experience – and, as entrepreneurs, we need to tap into their knowledge and expertise to help our businesses grow.”

The Innovation Vouchers scheme is open to any SME business based in Greater Manchester that meets the full criteria and has potential for growth innovation opportunities that are new to the organisation or marketplace.

Greater Manchester-based firms using advanced materials for medical applications can access fully-funded support through the MATMED programme to nurture collaboration, commercialisation and funding opportunities.

GC Business Growth Hub is part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of a project designed to help ambitious SME businesses achieve growth and increase employment in Greater Manchester. The Hub is also supported by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Greater Manchester local authorities.