Meet the nominees for the Small Cap Award’s 2021 Company of the year

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Meet the nominees for the Small Cap Award’s 2021 Company of the year

The Small Cap Awards 2021 will be held in-person event on 11 November at London’s Montcalm Hotel. Hosted by Perrier Award winning comedian Dominic Holland, the show will highlight the best in UK small cap business over the last year.

You can find out more about the event on the Small Cap Network website.

Here are the nominees for company of the year:

Avacta

Avacta is a clinical stage oncology drug company and developer of powerful diagnostics based on its innovative, propitiatory Affimer® and pre|CISION™ platforms.

Avacta’s therapeutics division, based in Cambridge and London, U.K. develops novel cancer immunotherapies combining its two proprietary platforms – Affimer® biotherapeutics and pre|CISIONTM tumour targeted chemotherapy. With this approach, the Company aims to address the lack of a durable response to current immunotherapies experienced by most patients. The Affimer® platform is a novel class of biotherapeutic based on a naturally occurring human protein. It is Avacta’s proprietary therapeutic platform with its intellectual property covered by several patent families. Avacta’s proprietary pre|CISIONTM targeted chemotherapy platform, releases active drug only in the tumour, thereby limiting systemic exposure and improving the overall safety and therapeutic potential of these powerful anti-cancer treatments. Avacta took its first pre|CISIONTM drug candidate AVA6000, a targeted form of the standard-of-care Doxorubicin, into the clinic in summer 2021.

Avacta’s diagnostics division, based in Wetherby, UK., utilises its proprietary Affimer® platform to develop high performing diagnostics and works with partners world-wide to develop Affimer reagents with the objective of establishing royalty bearing license deals.

Affimer® proteins are small, single domain binding proteins that are a more stable alternative to antibodies and are ideal for use in diagnostic applications, due to their rapid development, exquisite specificity and because they are robust, stable and easy to manufacture. The Affimer® platform is proprietary to Avacta.

2020/21 was clearly a strong year for the company, to what do you attribute your success?

2020/21 saw Avacta’s Diagnostics division attain ISO 13485 accreditation and launch its first ever Affimer® in-vitro diagnostic (IVD) product to market – the market leading AffiDX SARS-CoV-2 rapid antigen lateral flow test, creating the basis for a profitable Diagnostics Division.

Multiple collaborations and commercial partnerships have also been entered into by the Diagnostics division, with royalty bearing deals and distribution agreements further helping to establish what will be a profitable business.

The Therapeutics division transformed into a clinical stage biotech when it initiated its first-in-human phase I study of a preCISIONTM pro-drug. Good progress was also made with a number of partnered programmes, including LG Chem and a joint venture with Daewoong Pharmaceuticals in South Korea, AffyXell, which closed a Series A funding round with a syndicate of venture capital firms including Samsung Venture Investment Corporation.

The infrastructure of the company has been significantly developed over the last 12 months, with a new London HQ opened and a wide range of additional resources brought in, in areas such as clinical development, operations, quality, regulatory and commercial.

The progress made over the last year has been transformational for Avacta. Having an IVD product on the market and becoming a clinical stage biotech are huge milestones.

EKF Diagnostics

EKF is a leading point-of-care diagnostics and central laboratory assay manufacturer with an estimated 80,000 hemoglobin, hematocrit, HbA1c, glucose and lactate analyzers in regular use across more than 100 countries. EKF specialises in developing tests for use in anemia and diabetes diagnosis and management, as well as providing a portfolio of reagents for use in clinical chemistry analyzers.

Julian Baines has been CEO of EKF since December 2009 and has delivered significant shareholder value. He has a vast amount of experience building emerging diagnostics companies with specific expertise in the healthcare and was awarded an MBE for services to the Life Sciences industry in 2016. His ambition and drive has created a clear growth strategy for the Company which has consistently delivered on key milestones/newsflow, and kept momentum in the share price.

The over-performance, in terms of revenue and profit, is largely due to high demand for PrimeStore MTM during the global COVID-19 pandemic. The PrimeStore MTM sample collection device deactivates viruses, bacteria, fungi and mycobacterium tuberculosis allowing safe sample handling and transport, greatly reducing risk of infection and enables samples to be transported at ambient temperatures, simplifying the significant logistical burden involved in transporting millions of samples. This has led to strong demand for the Company’s contract manufacturing product lines across its sites in US, Germany and the UK. Singer Capital Markets, house broker has had to upgrade its forecasts several times in the year with the business illustrating a step change in performance.

Although recently shareholders have seen growth from the COVID infectious disease test kits, there is so much more that EKF provides over the long term which sees the company driving sustainable growth for its shareholders. Julian Baines has enabled his shareholders and EKF to benefit from returns by way of dividend in specie, by either spinning out or providing an investment into innovative technologies, creating over £1 billion in shareholder value (the combined market cap metric). Shareholders have been rewarded from the spin-out of Renalytix plc, by way of dividend in specie and the transaction of Verici Dx plc which was spun out of Renalytix in November 2020, by way of a second dividend in specie. In August 2020, EKF invested $5.0m in Trellus in return for a 31.1% holding. In December, the Company transferred this shareholding to its then shareholders by way of a dividend in specie, with Trellus listing in May this year at 40p, now trading at 62.50p. Julian is passionate about these investments into new technologies.

At the recent AGM, the Company outlined a new strategy to 2024, allowing the Group to create a business which, aside from any COVID-19 related revenues, is capable of generating significant double-digit growth in adjusted EBITDA over the next 3 to 4 years. This can be achieved through investment in aggressive organic growth in areas of the business where the Company already has expertise and proprietary technology, as well as by funding other means of delivering shareholder value such as targeted acquisitions.

Gear4Music

Gear4music is the UK’s largest retailer of musical instruments and music equipment, operating from a Head Office in York, England, and Distribution Centres and showrooms in York, Sweden and Germany. The Group sells own-brand musical instruments and music equipment alongside premium third-party brands including Fender Yahama and Roland, to customers ranging from musical enthusiasts and professionals in the UK, Europe and around the world.

Gear4music has developed and operates its own e-commerce platform with multilingual multicurrency websites delivering to 190 countries. In response to increasing demand over the course of FY21, the Group has evidenced its commitment to addressing the needs of its expanding customer base through further investment into the bespoke e-commerce platform and the opening of new European operational hubs in Ireland and Spain in September 2021. These new European hubs will also further enable the Group to fully mitigate the impact of supply chain and delivery challenges caused by Brexit.

In the year, Gear4music saw exceptional sales volumes as customers sought to take on new skills during the various lockdowns or enhance existing musical talent, in addition to using music to improve health and mental wellbeing. G4M also benefited from the closure of traditional high street retailers which were unable to operate as normal, with the Company’s number active customers up 32%.

In addition to EBITDA and Net profit growth, the results reported the Group’s strong net cash position and the strategic acquisitions of legacy brands Premier and Eden, renowned for their quality and longevity. Post-period the Group also completed the acquisition of AV Online, which it intends to rebrand as AV.com, in-line with G4M’s stated growth strategy. The Board believes that this acquisition will provide G4M with greater access to the £400m UK audio video market in which AV Online currently operates.

Updates from Gear4music in the last year have consistently been met with positive responses from shareholders, with the share price sequentially increasing to 750p in November 2020 (up c.17% from October that year) and then to peaks of 885p and 944p on the back of trading updates in January and April 2021 respectively.

Ultimately, this transformational performance, coupled with consistently positive investor responses, has established a broader platform for further growth, which in turn enables management to accelerate the execution of the growth strategy and consider further acquisition opportunities.

TPXimpact Holdings

TPXimpact exists to transform the organisations, services and systems that underpin society and that drive business success. It applies strategic and creative thinking, technology, innovative design and user-centred approaches to bring about numerous improvements which together multiply the impact of change. The Company works closely with its clients in agile, multidisciplinary teams that span organisational design, technology, and digital experiences. It shares a deep understanding of people and behaviours and a philosophy of putting people and communities at the heart of every transformation.

The business is being increasingly recognised as a leading alternative digital transformation provider to the UK public services sector, with c.70% of its client base representing the public sector and c.30% representing the commercial sector.

More information is available at www.tpximpact.com


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