The annual Silicon Gorge pitching competition has almost come to a close for 2023. We were blown away by the caliber of applicants and witling this down from almost 70 entrepreneurs to 24 finalists to eventually just 13 winners was no mean feat.

We’ve landed on 13 standout startups, specialising in sectors from health tech to green tech, who will be taking center stage next month.

1 – What does your company do?

Ferryx develops innovative food supplements and pharmaceutical products based on live bacteria (live biotherapeutic products) which support gut health. Our lead product is FX856, a strain of bacteria with an excellent safety profile and the ability to heal an inflamed gut. Our ultimate goal is to develop prescription medicines for the treatment of gut problems but, alongside this, we have recently launched Ferrocalm, a food supplement product that contains FX856.

2 – What problem are you trying to solve?

Gastrointestinal inflammation is part of many diseases affecting millions worldwide; for example, IBS affects 900 million people, and 6.8 million people have inflammatory bowel disease worldwide.

The early-stage tech and digital startups will be pitching to a room full of investors on 18 May 2023 at the Silicon Gorge Investor Showcase, all organised as part of the Investment Activator Programme. Startups will be pitching for between £100k and £2m in equity investment.

Ahead of Investor Showcase, we’re sharing profiles of those startups who made it through the heats. Next up is Ferryx, founded by Dr Jenny Bailey.

Despite its high prevalence, a lack of treatment options means patients are often reliant on drugs with negative side effects meaning compliance with medication can be poor and the disease can escalate. Conventional probiotics are popular due to their perception as safe, natural treatments, but currently marketed products cannot function during active disease.

3 – What makes your solution unique?

Ferryx is developing live biotherapeutic products (LBPs) which are functional during active inflammation, an area where conventional LBPs fail. During active inflammation or stress, gut iron levels increase.

Most resident gut bacteria can grow under high iron conditions, but conventional LBPs cannot; they are rapidly outcompeted and cannot have a beneficial effect.

Ferryx selects LBPs that thrive under high iron conditions and thus function during active disease; FX856 is the first LBP to be developed which has been specifically chosen for its ability to survive and thrive during active inflammation or stress.

4 – What are you most proud of so far?

Our proudest moment to date has been launching Ferrocalm and seeing the impact that it has on the people who need it. We are getting great reviews on the product and, so far, 70% of people have said their symptoms improve within just two weeks and, at the end of an 8 week trial, 91% of people said they would be willing to try the product again.

5 – How much are you raising and what do you want to use investment for?

We are currently raising £800k. 

With our first round of investment, we were able to launch a product and have proven demand for this in the market. With our second round, our primary focus is to capitalise on this by increasing sales of Ferrocalm and growing partnerships. To do this, we will make two strategic hires: Head of Growth and Partnerships Manager. The outcomes of this will be:

  • 8x increase in direct sales of Ferrocalm by September 2024
  • Distribution agreements for Ferrocalm in five territories by April 2025

In addition, the investment will fund further R&D of pipeline products. 

6 – What tools/people/services/organisations helped you most?

We have had some tremendous support from both SETsquared and Future Space, plus the great network of support services that work with both organisations.

7 – Where can we find out more about you?

You can find out more about Ferryx here and more about Ferrocalm here.

This article is written as part of the Investment Activator Programme (IAP) in the West of England. This programme is run by TechSPARK and is kindly sponsored by TLT LLP, delaware, West of England Combined Authority, UWE, Sanderson, Engine Shed and Rocketmakers. Find out more about the IAP here.

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Shona Wright

Shona covers all things editorial at TechSPARK. She publishes news articles, interviews and features about our fantastic tech and digital ecosystem, working with startups and scaleups to spread the word about the cool things they're up to. She also oversees TechSPARK's social media, sharing the latest updates on everything from investment news to green tech meetups and inspirational stories.