Biomedical companies Alchemy Healthcare and Future Medical Technologies have each received £50,000 Pathfinder investments from the £25 million North West Fund for Biomedical.

The North West Fund is run by early-stage venture capital firm SPARK Impact and is part of the £185 million evergreen fund provided by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to supply debt and equity funding to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the northwest of England.

One recipient of the two new Pathfinder investments is Lancashire-based Alchemy Healthcare, which has developed an innovative nasal delivery device to provide a unit-dose, needle-free delivery of dry powders into the nasal cavity. Key advantages of this technology include high dose accuracy and relatively cheap manufacturing costs, and the technology can be used across multiple markets and application areas, says the firm.

Alchemy Healthcare will use its £50,000 investment to "complete various elements of tooling and a modest clinical trial," said Ian Harrison, the firm’s chief technical officer, founder and inventor. "We hope to have the results soon and raise further investment to continue to grow," he added.

The market for nasally-delivered products is substantial and growing, with some estimates projecting sales of around $7 billion by next year. 

The other new £50,000 Pathfinder investment goes to Manchester firm Future Medical Technologies, which has developed polymeric hydrogels to mimic human cartilage for the treatment of arthritis diseases and focal defects in articulating joints, thus improving patient care. The firm will use the investment to speed up development of its HydraCartilage technology and gain regulatory approvals.

Future Medical Technologies director Dr Yousef Taktak described the Pathfinder investment as a "great opportunity" for the firm to accelerate the development of its synthetic cartilage for human joints and to realise its full potential for commercialisation with the associated patient benefits.

Dr Penny Attridge, senior investment director at SPARK Impact and manager of the North West Fund for Biomedical, said both firms have "tremendous potential."  Interest in the Fund - which was launched in February 2011and has received over 100 applications to date - is continuing to grow, and these are its second set of investments, she said.

North West Business Finance chief executive Andy Leach welcomed the two new investments as "further contributors to a broad and developing portfolio of SMEs that will participate in the establishment of a strong biomedical presence in the region, providing a long-term benefit to the North West economy."

The Fund is open to biomedical companies based in, or prepared to relocate to, the North West of England. It is accessible to a broad range of firms, including those developing pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and medical devices, and  working in the areas of clinical research, contract manufacturing and analytical services.