Vickers Venture Partners, a global VC fund co-founded by Baidu’s early investor Dr Finian Tan, has co-invested in the US$3.5 million Series A funding round of SiSaf, a nanotechnology drug delivery company based in Belfast in Northern Ireland.

Exen Capital, besides Invest Northern Ireland, an early investor, also participated in the round.

The financing will be used to fund sales expansion into new markets and increase product research and development.

As per agreement, Dr Elkhalil Binebine, Vice Chairman at Vickers, and Eric Attias, Managing Partner at Exen Capital, will join SiSaf’s Board of Directors.

Suzanne Saffie-Siebert, Founder and Chairwoman of SiSaf, said: “After years of R&D, our technology is ready for full commercialisation. Our drug delivery platform has matured into a genuine game changer and its potential applications are massive. Vickers and Exen have a great track record of building companies and their global network and expertise in the life science sector will be key to accelerating SiSaf’s growth.’’

Founded in 2008 by Saffie-Siebert, SiSaf is a specialty biopharmaceutical company with a next-generation drug delivery technology that can solve even the most extreme drug bioavailability challenges.

Safe and effective drug delivery is a multi-billion-dollar problem for the pharmaceutical industry. SiSaf uses bio-adaptive nanosilicon technology invented by Suzanne Saffie-Siebert, which is capable of encapsulating difficult-to-formulate drugs to generate access for actives to previously inaccessible sites, and it offers safe and targeted drug delivery and release. As a platform, it can be used in multiple industry verticals — from pharmaceuticals to biotech, animal health and consumer care — to improve the drug candidate pipeline and sustain and create patent value.

The company is based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Its clients and collaborators include major pharmaceutical and animal health companies in Europe and Asia.

“SiSaf’s technology changes the game in drug formulation by enabling the packaging and delivery of drugs that cannot otherwise be formulated,” said Binebine.

“We see a new wave of innovative medicines emerging from recent breakthroughs in the life sciences. However, getting these medicines to the right place in the body and at the right dose remains hugely challenging. The groundbreaking Bio-Adaptive nanosilicon drug delivery technology that Suzanne and the team have developed enables safe and effective targeting of these new drugs, as well as making old drugs even more useful by allowing for controlled release and lower doses,” he added.

Vickers Venture Partners was set up in 2005 by Finian Tan and his four partners Dr Elkhalil Binebine, Dr Jeffrey Chi, Linda Li and Dr Damian Tan. Vickers portfolio covers life sciences, technology, media, and telecommunications as well as consumer and financial services. It has offices in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore and a presence in San Diego.

The VC fund recently announced that it has made the first close of its fifth fund at S$86 million (US$63.5 million), all coming from existing investors.