Aviva Invests in Owlstone Medical Breath Biopsy® platform

Published on 27 Mar 17

Investment will drive adoption of new diagnostic modality within healthcare system

Cambridge, UK, 27 March 2017: Owlstone Medical Ltd, a diagnostics company developing a breathalyzer for disease, today announced an investment from Aviva Ventures, the venture capital arm of Aviva plc, a global leader in insurance. The investment takes Owlstone Medical’s total funding to $23.5 million USD (£19.3 million GBP) since its spin-out from Owlstone Inc in 2016 and will be used to drive test adoption and commercialization of the company’s Breath Biopsy ® platform.

Owlstone Medical is leveraging proprietary and proven Field Asymmetric Ion Mobility Spectrometry (FAIMS) technology in its disease breathalyzer product range. FAIMS measures volatile organic compound (VOC) metabolites in patient’s breath or biospecimens which are specific to disease. Measurement of VOC biomarkers allows non-invasive diagnosis of disease at a very early stage, to enable more effective treatment and better patient outcomes.

Aviva Ventures provides early stage investment to back entrepreneurs with high growth businesses and has identified Owlstone Medical’s breath biopsy platform as being strategically important to its business. Aviva will actively promote Owlstone Medical in the healthcare space and build awareness of breath biopsy as a new standard in diagnostics.

Ben Luckett, Managing Director at Aviva Ventures, said:

“Our intention is to invest in unique and innovative start-ups that look to disrupt the future of insurance. Owlstone Medical is a great example of this. Its strong team and ground-breaking product gives us every confidence in its future success. Technology is evolving rapidly and so it is critical for large, global businesses like Aviva to collaborate with start-ups such as Owlstone Medical. Traditionally, insurance has supported customers in the aftermath of a problem, going forward prevention will be just as important as the cure.”

Billy Boyle, co-founder and CEO at Owlstone Medical, said:

“Investment from Aviva as one of the major global insurance brands further validates our FAIMS technology and breath biopsy as a new approach to medical diagnostics. We are very pleased that Aviva is supporting us in our mission to save 100,000 lives and $1.5 billion in healthcare costs.”

Dr Doug Wright, Medical Director at Aviva, has been appointed an Observer to Owlstone Medical Board:

“As we offer our customers increasing choices about their health provision in particular on prevention and early detection, innovations like this will become ever more relevant. We are proud to be involved in the development of an entirely new means of early disease detection, screening and treatment monitoring that could make a real difference to people’s health."


Notes to Editors

Billy Boyle

Billy Boyle, CEO, Owlstone Medical.

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Media contact

For more information please contact:

Owlstone Medical
Sarah Jeffery, Zyme Communications
+44 (0)7771 730919

Sarah Swailes
+44 (0)20 7662 6700

About Aviva

  • Aviva provides life insurance, general insurance, health insurance and asset management to 33 million customers.
  • In the UK it is the leading insurer serving one in every four households and has strong businesses in selected markets in Europe, Asia and Canada. Its shares are listed on the London Stock Exchange and it is a member of the FTSE100 index.
  • Aviva’s asset management business, Aviva Investors, provides asset management services to both Aviva and external clients, and currently manages over £340 billion in assets. Total group assets under management at Aviva group are £450 billion.
  • Aviva helps people save for the future and manage the risks of everyday life; it paid out £34.4 billion in benefits and claims in 2016.
  • By serving customers well, Aviva is building a business which is strong and sustainable, which its people are proud to work for, and which makes a positive contribution to society.

About Owlstone Medical

Owlstone Medical has developed a breathalyzer for disease. With a focus on non-invasive diagnostics for cancer, infectious disease and inflammatory disease, the company aims to save 100,000 lives and $1.5B in health care costs by 2020.

The company’s microchip FAIMS (Field Asymmetric Ion Mobility Spectrometer) sensor is a platform technology that can be programmed in software to detect targeted biomarkers of disease in breath (and other bodily fluids). FAIMS can be used in clinical diagnostics and precision medicine with application in cancer and a wide range of other medical conditions. Highly sensitive and selective, these tests allow for early diagnosis when treatments are more effective and where more lives can be saved.

Owlstone Medical is currently developing tests for lung and colorectal cancer, two of the most common cancer killers worldwide. The company also sells R&D tools and services to academic, clinical and pharma partners who want to develop breath based diagnostics for their own applications.

Founded in 2004 as a spin-out from the Engineering Department at the University of Cambridge, Owlstone Inc is a profitable business selling its proven FAIMS technology to military and industrial customers globally. Owlstone Medical was spun out from Owlstone Inc in 2016 to develop and commercialise FAIMS in diagnostic applications.

Owlstone Medical is headquartered in Cambridge, UK, with offices in London, UK.