Sphere Medical

Case study

Sphere Medical

Denbighshire is fast becoming a thriving area for companies involved in the life sciences. Sphere Medical, a rising star in this field is the latest company to locate in our county.

Sphere Medical are an ambitious business in an exciting phase of their growth from a company engaging in research and development to being ready to manufacture their product.

At their St Asaph base, opened earlier this year, Sphere will be producing components for the manufacture of their Proxima machine. Proxima is a blood gas monitoring system which will aid and speed up diagnosis of any problems a critically ill patient may have when they are being treated in hospital.

“At the moment when patients are critically ill in hospital they have to take blood samples and wait for results. Our machine is plugged into the patient and they get instant results at the bedside. In St Asaph we will be manufacturing some of the components for the machine” explained Chief Finance Officer of Sphere Medical, Richard Wright.

“We opened in St Asaph in February this year and we are now nearly ready to produce the first batches of our product. We are very nearly there. We made test batches and we are now set up to start commercial production.”

Sphere Medical’s HQ is in Cambridge and this is where the research and development of Proxima took place.

Ready to manufacture, last year they went to the stock market to raise funds and raised £13 million pounds, £4 million of which came from the Wales Life Sciences fund. Sphere were asked to make some commitment to Wales as part of this investment and so they began the search for a premises in Wales that would meet the demands of their business and help them continue on their journey from research to reality.

Richard explained, “We looked at sites across Wales as we had a set of very specific needs. We needed a ‘clean room’ where there is a high level of control over air conditioning. The air needs to be filtered to avoid impurities. We are operating with really small electronic components and they are very sensitive.

“There was a suitable site with a clean room in St Asaph that was formerly occupied by a company called Microvisk. They were winding down and we knew because of this, not only would it be likely that the facilities would be suitable but we also knew it would be a great place to locate to be able to recruit a labour force.

“There are lots of similar companies within a sensible distance to be able to build our workforce. We needed production labourers with experience in electronics and who understand electronics.

“We have been really pleased because as we expected, we were able to recruit staff to start straightaway and so it’s all been done very quickly and so we have been able to move forward very quickly.

Looking ahead, Richard says that the future of the company looks bright in Denbighshire.

“We want to be able to sell our product around the world but we are in the very early stages. We have a sales force in the UK, Germany and Belgium but we would like to find partners to help distribute the product around the world.

“We are in the early stages of marketing and we have high hopes for how far and wide it’ll go. We hope to be in a position where we are employing a good number of people in North Wales and investing further in the high tech industry. We hope St Asaph becomes really key for us.”