Scottish dental tech firm Calcivis raises £1.52m ahead of 2022 US launch

A DENTAL technology firm is poised to launch in the United States after raising a further £1.52 million and restructuring its board.

Edinburgh-based Calcivis was set up in 2012 and has since raised more than £15m in funding to develop and market a dental imaging system described as the “holy grail” of preventive dentistry.

“We really are poised at a very interesting point in the development of the company, because we’re about to get approval in our most important market to actually get out there and see the results of all the development work done to date,” said Calcivis chief executive and co-founder Adam Christie.

The US is the world’s biggest dentistry market. Calcivis plans to launch its dental imaging system in Boston in 2022 and hopes to create a new preventive dentistry market segment worth up to $500m a year.

Scottish business angel syndicate Archangels led the £1.52m investment to fund final product development and prepare for marketing in the US.

Economic development agency Scottish Enterprise and Lynx Financial, a Shanghai-based boutique investment banking firm, also invested in the round.

Archangels and Scottish Enterprise first invested in Calcivis in 2012 when it was set up by Mr Christie and his co-founder Bruce Vernon. Other investors include Julz, a venture capital firm based in North Carolina.

Mr Christie said next year’s soft launch in Boston, followed by a US-wide launch in 2023, would put the company in a strong position over the next 12 to 18 months to raise further substantial investment and “look at various different exit routes for existing investors.”

America’s Food and Drug Administration, the government regulator, is expected to fully approve the Calcivis Imaging System in the first half of 2022, having already given ‘pre-market approval’ last March.

Mr Christie and Mr Vernon set up Calcivis to commercialise intellectual property developed at the University of Dundee’s School of Dentistry by Chris Longbottom and Nigel Pitts.

The system combines a medical device with a glowing protein – known as a photoprotein – which shows where teeth are beginning to be damaged.

“If the protein glows, you know that the tooth decay is progressing – that’s the key innovation here,” Mr Christie explained. “We’re trying to see the lesions on the tooth surface before they get to the point where you have to drill and fill.”

Calcivis says its system is the world’s first biotechnology-based dental imaging system, allowing dentists to visualise teeth decay in real time, during a patient’s dental appointment, rather than waiting for three and six monthly check-ups.

The company has appointed life sciences veteran John Brown as its new non-executive chairman. He succeeds James Browning, who has stepped down from the role after eight years on the Calcivis board.

Calcivis said Dr Brown had a “long association” with Archangels, having previously chaired and overseen exits from two Archangels portfolio companies: Touch Bionics, the Livingston-based prosthetics firm that was sold to Össur of Iceland in 2016, and CXR Biosciences, the Dundee-based toxicology specialist that was bought by Manchester-based Concept Life Sciences in 2015.

Dr Brown’s other previous chairmanships include Axis-Shield, the Dundee-based medical diagnostics firm and ProStrakan, the Galashiels-based drugs developer sold to Tokyo-based Kyowa Hakko Kirin in 2011.

His current appointments include chairing the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, a UK government-backed network to drive innovation and growth.

Vancouver-based Michael Crane, a dentistry sector specialist with 35 years’ experience in the US and Europe, has also joined the Calcivis board. His previous appointments include senior vice president roles at Pennsylvania dental equipment maker Dentsply and senior positions including Johnson and Johnson Dental Products Company.

Edinburgh-based Archangels has around 100 investor members and leads investment of around £15m a year in early stage Scottish companies.

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992