Dr Jonathan Widdowson

Jonathan WiddowsonThe problem

Collagen materials are critical for tissue engineering innovations, medical devices and research. However, the supply of collagen presents several issues including quantity and cost – it is usually produced in low volume and has a high average price of over £2,000 a gram. Quality can also be a problem with its solubility, clarity and purity often inconsistent. Because it is usually obtained from animals it is also susceptible to associated disease transmissions.

The solution
Dr Jonathan Widdowson’s PhD work in the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine led him to him to question how the body generates materials and then develop biomaterials to recreate those elements in the lab. In 2018, he co-founded ProColl with Dr Chris Wright, a medical biomaterials company with a mission to empower research and medical device development.

The Swansea University spin-out has since developed and commercialised new technologies and produces affordable, research grade, soluble collagen – both animal and non-animal based. ProColl manufactures three different types of collagen. Its acid-soluble collagens are highly consistent, with inter- and intra-batch consistency of over 99%. These are produced in large batches, which makes the materials cost-effective and affordable for research that includes making artificial skin and organs.

ProColl also produces a single-chain collagen, which is highly soluble in aqueous conditions and has many applications in regenerative medicine. In addition, the company is bringing to market a vegan recombinant human procollagen, produced in yeast that displays high consistency, reliability, and in vivo biocompatibility.

In 2018, the collagen market was valued at $4.27 billion with an addressable market for ProColl of over £1 billion, covering areas such as healthcare, cosmetics, research and nutraceuticals.

ProColl is currently building a distribution supply network and aims to have agreements worth over £1 million in 2020. It is also working with researchers and nutraceutical manufacturers to bring game-changing innovations and products to market.

Two significant reasons have accounted for the rapid commercial success of ProColl: the support of Swansea University’s AgorIP, which helped grow the enterprise from a research idea to a commercially viable spinout; and the Enterprise Fellowship, which has helped the company gain crucial funders and support. The funding has also allowed ProColl to grow and connect with new customers and gain traction in areas it was previously unable to access.

Traction
2018 ProColl founded
2019 ICURe funding secured
2019 Dr Jonathan Widdowson was awarded an Enterprise Fellowship
2020 Signed nutraceutical supply agreement with Trinsic Collagen Ltd

Visit their website: www.procoll.co.uk

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