Lancaster medical services provider helps Covid fight

A Lancaster-based company providing medical cleaning services and products is helping to fight the Covid-19 pandemic after innovating with the help of Lancashire County Council funding.

James Staniland and Adam Murfitt, ClearTrace

ClearTrace has helped to develop a lateral flow Covid-19 test and has supplied tens of thousands of tests to organisations including Leeds United Football Club as well as offering products such as alcohol-free hand sanitiser under its brand ClearTrace Life Science Research.

The company, which now operates from Lancaster University, was formed to provide medical cleaning services such as ambulance cleaning as well as offering its own chemical product range.

ClearTrace received a £50,000 loan from Lancashire County Council’s Rosebud Fund in late 2019, which has allowed the company to scale up, enter a variety of new markets and develop new products to meet emerging medical challenges through 2020.

Adam Murfitt, managing director, said: “We decided to scale the business in order to not lose our competitive edge. To do that, we needed a cash injection and after speaking with several banks, Rosebud was highlighted to me.

“We received a £50,000 loan which allowed me to put everything in place for the next three years of growth. We developed new products, visited trade shows and built the brand.”

Health Innovation One, Lancaster University

After receiving Rosebud funding, ClearTrace has grown its client base from around 10 to 40-50 customers across the UK, including the NHS as well as advising the Isle of Man government. The company has also outgrown its previous base and moved into Lancaster University’s Health Innovation Campus in late 2020.

The funding and Lancaster University links have also enabled ClearTrace to develop new products to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, such as hand sanitiser gels.

It has also partnered with several manufacturers to develop antigen testing kits which it has been able to test quickly and effectively against emerging Covid variants at its university base.

Adam added: “We have developed our antigen testing capability. This has been a big growth area and we are supplying to a growing number of clients while also testing our own staff.

“I would never underestimate the support we have had from Lancashire County Council, not just the financial help but the business support and advice which has been second to none. We have also had unbelieve support from Lancaster University.

“I don’t know if the company would have received the amount of support it has if we were based outside Lancashire.”

Adam now intends to split the company into two distinct branches and grow both of these.

ClearTrace will continue to specialise in infection prevention and control (IPC) treatment. ClearTrace Life Science Research will supply lateral flow testing and other products while also helping new health and social care startup firms to grow.

“We can use our contacts and knowledge to help individuals developing health and life sciences products get off the ground by bridging the gap between the university and the private sector,” Adam added.

The Rosebud Fund is provided by Lancashire County Developments Ltd (LCDL), which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Lancashire County Council.

The fund aims to support the growth of Lancashire businesses and the local economy, offering loans between £10,000 and £300,000 as well as high-quality business support

Amin Vepari, business finance and scaleup lead, Lancashire County Council, said: “ClearTrace is a prime example of the type of Lancashire company we are keen to support through the Rosebud Fund – they had a proven business model and needed some additional funds to meet their ambitious goals.

“This is a success story not just for ClearTrace but for the whole county. The firm’s growing capabilities in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic will undoubtedly save lives and we’re proud to have been able to support that.”

The Rosebud Fund is delivered by GC Business Finance. Businesses in Lancashire’s 12 local authority areas are eligible for the funding: Burnley; Chorley; Fylde; Hyndburn; Lancaster; Pendle; Preston; Ribble Valley; Rossendale; South Ribble; West Lancashire; Wyre.