MVM Life Science Partners LLP
The Commercial Issue
MVM Life Science Partners was founded in 1997 and invests funds totalling $500 million in the fields of biopharmaceuticals, diagnostics, drug delivery, gene therapy, healthcare IT, healthcare services, medical devices, OTC medicines, research tools and vaccines.
In late 2012 MVM was considering investing in a German company eZono A.G. which was developing a new technique in the area of portable ultrasound scanners. Ultrasound imaging is very familiar as a technique for examining internal soft body tissues and is used widely during pregnancy and in cancer diagnosis. eZono has been developing a portable ultrasound imaging apparatus to allow a clinician to see where a needle or catheter is inside the body. The problem is that needles and catheters are not easy to see on an ultrasound image. eZono’s solution is to magnetise the needle and track it using magnetic detectors fitted to the ultrasound probe. MVM needed to assess the commercial value of eZono’s intellectual property and, in particular, the extent to which it was protected and capable of protection. This was crucial to determining the viability of investing in the company.
How We Helped
Ezono had filed a patent application already. Working closely with MVM and eZono we conducted prior art searches and examined the strength of the patent application, assessing both its chances of success and what protection it might offer when granted.
Based on the analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the patent position, and on what follow-up filings might be made to strengthen the position, MVM was able to invest in eZono with confidence that the investment would prove to be a commercial success. We continue to work directly with eZono to progress their patent applications and protect yet further developments in ultrasound imaging.
With the assistance of expert advisers, MVM aims to actively drive value in its venture capital investments. We chose J A Kemp for eZono because they had the skills to review and strengthen eZono’s patent position. They not only confirmed eZono’s dominant position in needle guidance but suggested follow-on filings that added multiple layers of protection. With J A Kemp’s support, MVM had the confidence to lead a $10m financing into eZono and launch the product worldwide.
Hugo Harrod, Partner, MVM Life Science Partners LLP