Interview with Andy Hall-Ponselè, Director of Operations at Biotangents

PUBLISHED ON 6 November 2019

We recently interviewed Andy Hall-Ponselè, Director of Operations at Biotangents (https://www.biotangents.co.uk/) to find out how he found his participation in EIE, read on to find out what he had to say!

In a few sentences, what is your service and/or product offering?

Our first product is a diagnostic test for a highly contagious disease of cattle called bovine viral diarrhoea. This disease is comparable to HIV due to its effect on the immune system, and it results in huge economic losses globally including £60m in the UK each year. Our product produces results rapidly, allowing new animals to be screened for the disease before the farmer introduces them into their herd. This helps to reduce the spread of the disease, saving the farmer money.

That initial product is based on a highly configurable platform technology that we have designed and developed (patent pending) that detects genetic markers of disease. We call this technology Moduleic Sensing™. Moduleic Sensing™ can be adapted to many different diseases for different sectors, and we already have multiple products in development for the domestic and international livestock farming markets.

Could you expand on what parts of the EIE acceleration programme were the most useful for you? How did the training help you improve the prospects for your company?

The programme really helped us strengthen our pitch. There was training across multiple aspects of pitch delivery, not just the words themselves but things like how to stand, enunciate and prepare for the pitch as well. These are all skills that have helped us with our subsequent pitches and other presentations.

What contacts did you make due to your EIE participation? Were you contacted after the event by investors for example? If so can you detail how these conversations went?

We met the largest single investor of our December 2017 investment round at EIE2017. This was just a chance conversation during networking, and it’s a demonstration of the quality and relevance of the attendees of EIE.

Where were you as a company before EIE compared with where are you now? How have you had to adapt to change?

Before EIE we had four employees, a technology the feasibility of which we had only just demonstrated and were renting a tiny office and lab within a larger research institute. We now have 12 employees, a diagnostic product that is about to come on to the market and have just moved into our own 3,000 sq. ft lab and office complex. With those changes we’ve had to strengthen our board, diversify our team and learn how to effectively manage that team.

Since your participation in EIE have you hired more staff? If so, what types of employees have you hired and how have they helped with business growth?

At our core we are a synthetic biology company. Our expertise is in understanding how DNA works and incorporating that expertise into diagnostic tests that respond in a predictable way to defined DNA sequences. But in growing we’ve had to really diversify our expertise. In addition to synthetic biologists we now have bioinformaticians, an engineer, a business development manager and full-time administrative support. All these individuals bring their own skills and knowledge and are contributing significantly to the success of Biotangents.

Are you able to share any details of your business growth in terms of funding, since your participation in EIE?

We have had two oversubscribed investment rounds since EIE2017, both led by Kelvin Capital with additional support from the Scottish Investment Bank. Our most recent round, in March 2019, raised £1.5m. This added to £0.6m raised in December 2017. We are now commencing a Series A funding round in the region of £3m.

Anything else you would like to tell us about your EIE participation?

It was an incredibly useful experience that I would strongly recommend to anyone new to entrepreneurship or pitching for investment. It was also a great opportunity to network with other entrepreneurs with early stage companies.