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UCL Mechanical Engineering
Faculty of Engineering Sciences


Early career researchers win support for biotech startup

Early career researchers win support for biotech startup

Two UCL Engineering PhD research students have been awarded £5K funding from venture builder Conception X to help develop their innovative Biotech startup company.

Enteromics, a collaboration between Phoebe Heseltine ( UCL Mechanical Engineering) and Mariam Elgabry (Jill Dando Institute), is designing a novel, less invasive method of scanning the alimentary canal.  The Enteromics team is developing an ingestible capsule for real-time monitoring of the gut microbiome for personalised healthcare.

An estimated 30% of the worldwide population suffer from a range stomach issues. While many people will approach health care professionals with their gut problem, these can prove complex and difficult to both diagnose and treat, with limited patient information, until conditions become severe.

Strong link to bacteria


Phoebe Heseltine and Mariam Elgabry from Enteromics

Phoebe Heseltine, Enteromics’ CEO said “We know there is a strong link between the progression of these conditions and the bacteria in the stomach, however current methods of understanding these bacteria are either highly invasive or expensive (endoscopy) or inaccurate (stool sampling).

We are working on an ingestible capsule for real-time monitoring of the gut microbiome at specific locations within the gut. For patients, this means early diagnosis and management of their condition, perhaps even in the comfort of their own home. For doctors, this could mean more accurate diagnosis and the potential to better target the drug treatments offered.”

Heseltine, a PhD student in Professor Mohan Edirisinghe’s Biomaterials Processing Lab, is responsible for design of the project’s “hardware”; the biomaterial-based capsule. Her partner Enteromics’ CTO, Mariam Elgabry, as a PhD student at the UCL Engineering’s Jill Dando Institute researching Future Crime. Elgabry is responsible for the project’s data analytics and software.

Conception X

The duo were successful in winning £5K in a video pitch competition held by Conception X – a venture builder that creates early stage deep tech start-ups from PhD research. Conception X was initially launched at UCL and is now supported by Barclays Eagle Labs. Enteromics plan to use the prize fund to invest in product development.

Speaking for the duo, Heseltine said “We are delighted to have been successful and for the support of Conception X. We are part of a unique ecosystem with excellent mentors that have encouraged us to explore the commercial aspects of our PhD’s, without compromising our academic research. We are also immensely grateful to the support and encouragement of our academic supervisory teams.”

Heseltine’s research is also supported by an EPSRC-BASF Industrial Strategy Studentship, with ongoing collaborations with Xiros.

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