Today we are pleased to announce that we at Ada Ventures have led a £1.2m investment in Oxford Medical Products (OMP).
OMP has developed a non-surgical weight loss technology, Sirona. Sirona is designed to work in the same way as a gastric balloon. Rather than having a silicone balloon endoscopically placed in a hospital, Sirona is a self-expanding hydrogel capsule that, once swallowed expands in the stomach and occupies space, continuously working to reduce hunger and leading to significant weight loss. The capsules are formulated to:
1. Expand rapidly in the stomach, resulting in a feeling of satiety.
2. Stay in the stomach for a prolonged period of time, so they are effective 24/7 and lasts several weeks.
3. Break down gradually and pass naturally over time, ensuring safety.
Current surgical solutions start at around £4k per treatment. OMP will bring Sirona to the market at a fraction of this allowing millions of people effected by weight gain to access an effective, safe solution.
Part of our mission at Ada is to broaden access to and understanding of venture capital which is why we write these posts to share what the company does, why we invested and how the investment came about.
What was the process that led to investment?
Excessive weight is undoubtedly one of the biggest health challenges we face, and is accelerating rapidly. Finding effective treatments would be hugely impactful. Current ‘treatments’ for excessive weight are short term and ineffective (dieting, more exercise) or dramatic, expensive, not widely available and carry risk.
When I was discussing this investment theme with Tom Profumo at Active Partners, he suggested I meet Dr Camilla Easter, CEO & co-founder of OMP. He knows the weight loss industry well as he is on the board of a chain of surgeries (Streamline Surgical) which do hundreds of bariatric procedures a year. He was interested in OMP as a way of avoiding surgery whilst still achieving good patient outcomes and significant weight loss.
I immediately clicked with Camilla on our first call. I also was intrigued by the technology which seemed at once simple but also effective. Along with Ada Ventures Venture Partner, Alasdair Thong, we spent time with OMP’s co-founders, Professor Jan Czenurska, a world-renowned expert in hydrogels and Dr. Hutan Ashrafian a pioneering bariatric surgeon and Dr. Nick Edwards, a medically trained entrepreneur.
The combination of the team, the technology and the size of the problem they were tackling was extremely compelling and we’re delighted to have led their investment round to enable them to complete pre-clinical testing, upscale and outsource manufacturing and grow the OMP team. We’re pleased to have already supported OMP to develop their positioning with friends of Ada Ventures, Craig and Bridget.
Why does OMP fit the Ada Thesis and what got us excited?
- This is an undeserved and overlooked, but large and growing, market. Excessive weight affects 2 billion people worldwide and is responsible for 80% of type 2 diabetes, 33% of coronary heart disease, and is the second biggest environmental cause of cancer. Excessive weight also places a big cost burden on the global economy, estimated at over $2tn every year (roughly the same economic impact as smoking or armed combat). In the US, costs to the healthcare system run to $209 billion.
- Positive societal impact. OMP’s products, including Sirona have the potential to have significant positive impact on people’s lives. There is an urgent need for a safe, effective and affordable solution to help people with their weight loss, which is equally accessible for anyone, anywhere in the world (currently not the case with surgical options).
- Defensible technology and clear regulatory pathway. OMP have two patents on their technology. Precedent for regulating this novel approach to obesity has been set by Plenity, a Sirona competitor which has been developed by Gelesis in the US.
- An exceptional team, with clear founder market fit. The team is experienced and complementary with a multidisciplinary approach which we believe is crucial to build a successful product in this space.
As with any early stage company, there are challenges ahead, but we are thrilled to be supporting the OMP team to build the number one, non invasive and effective solution for excessive weight.
OMP are hiring. If you want to help them realise their vision to tackle weight loss safely, affordably and effectively, please check out their open positions here.