Womble Bond Dickinson has advised Mercia Fund Managers and Enterprise Ventures on the recent £5.25 million investment in Newcells Biotech, the Newcastle-based cell technology business. The Mercia-managed funds which participated in the fundraising included Northern VCTs and the North East Venture Fund, which is supported by the European Regional Development Fund and managed by Mercia. Further funding was provided by the North East Innovation Fund, managed by Northstar Ventures.

Founded in 2015 by Dr Mike Nicholds, and based at The Biosphere building at Helix, Newcells Biotech is leading the way in the development of human stem cells for the drug development sector. The former Newcastle University spin-out company has developed modelling technology which improves the ability to generate data on the safety and effectiveness of drugs before their first human trials.

The new funding will enable Newcells Biotech to expand its growth in 3D tissue models, to drive forward plans for international expansion in the US and to grow its existing commercial operations. The investment will enable Newcells to accelerate the development of models for liver and lung conditions, and the latter could advance the research into and treatment available for SARS-Cov-2.

The Womble Bond Dickinson team advising on the transaction was led by Jamie Pass and Oliver Rickett in WBD's corporate team. Jamie commented:

"It has been great to work with Tim and the Mercia team again on a substantial further investment in an exciting North East success story. We are passionate about supporting regional tech businesses, and look forward to becoming near-neighbours of Newcells next year when we relocate to Newcastle Helix."

Tim Levett led the Mercia team advising the Northern VCTs on the investment and James Allsopp oversaw the investment on behalf of the North East Venture Fund. Tim said:

"We are extremely pleased to have been able to complete this further investment in Newcells, which has exciting plans and a management team we enjoy working with. We were ably supported by Womble Bond Dickinson team who provided the right balance of legal expertise and commercial pragmatism, which is invaluable from an investor's perspective."

This is the latest in a series of major deals completed by WBD's North East team during the COVID-19 pandemic, including advising:

Ranking in the UK's top 20 law firms, WBD has deep roots in the North East which is home to its largest UK office in which over 200 qualified advisors are based. It is committed to playing its part in the future prosperity of the North East and Cumbria by using its local, national and international reach and expertise to benefit the region's leading sectors, businesses, people and organisations.