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Cambridge spin-off Zomp wins £2M backing from Zeiss Ventures-led group

20 Apr 2023

Investment will help develop 3D imaging flow cytometer for “quantitative imaging of millions of cells”.

Zeiss Ventures has announced the expansion of its portfolio in the life science sector, co-leading a £2 million ($2.5 million) investment in Zomp, an early-stage start-up based in Cambridge, UK, developing a 3D imaging flow cytometer.

Zomp’s technology – a development spun-out from the University of Cambridge – enables highly accurate quantitative imaging of millions of cells in a single experiment. Zomp is combining whole-cell 3D imaging with flow cytometry in a new instrument, which it says will “revolutionize the way cells are analyzed and sorted”.

The innovation is based on Zomp’s LightGate technology, incorporating a microlens array to collect fluorescence and instantly measure multiple 2D views of the same cell. These data are an instant 3D snapshot of the cell as it passes through a tunable light sheet, by deconvoluting the series of images into a 3D view of the cell.

Prof. Steven Lee’s explanatory blog (University of Cambridge): “Need high-volume 3D imaging? Just Zomp it!”

The £2 million seed funding round is co-led by Zeiss Ventures, Foresight WAE Technology and BGF. Zomp will use the funds to develop a minimum viable product and identify optimal customer applications.

Gerrit Schulte, Head of Zeiss Ventures, said, “Zomp’s innovative technology has the potential to disrupt the current flow cytometry market due to its ability to capture not only binary information about cells, but also morphological and spatial information at a single cell level.

“In the future, image-based cell sorting will enable new experiments in life science and biotechnology applications. Zeiss Ventures is very pleased to support Zomp’s journey not only with financial resources, but also with our know-how in imaging and image analysis.”

‘Light blue innovation’

Prof. Steven Lee, Zomp’s CEO, said, “Companies should do more than make money, they should make people excited about the future. Cellular biology has been traditionally described by three key pillars: genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics.

“We would argue that there is a fourth,” Prof. Lee added, “and that is how things are organized in 3D space. This is why we are extremely excited to be working with Zeiss, creating the instruments that will allow our customers to see inside cells at the population scale.”

Dr Kevin O’Holleran, Zomp’s CTO, described the partnership with Zeiss as an “excellent fit.” He added, “With our imaging flow cytometry technology and Zeiss’s experience in bioimaging product development we have quickly found that Zeiss and Zomp make an excellent match. We look forward to developing our technology as part of Zeiss Ventures portfolio.”

Cofounder and CCO Gillies Kleboe explained the company’s unusual name “We wanted a name that could eventually become a verb, like ‘Google’ or ‘Shazam.’ Zomp is also the name of a colour which turns out to be very similar to the traditional Cambridge Blue [the greenish blue, as in the cells image, above], so it was too good not to use. In a few years time researchers who need complex imaging of a high quantity of cells might be saying: just Zomp it.”

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