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Innovation support drives productivity, exports and 15% annual growth at CellPath

Following help from SMART Innovation, CellPath:

  • Secured funding to purchase fully-automated machinery, improving productivity
  • Recorded 15% growth last year and employed 19 new members of staff since early 2018
  • Achieved a 40% increase in orders from export regions last year

CellPath is a leading example of a Welsh business that is using innovation to respond to competition from low cost manufacturing regions. Working with the Welsh Government’s EU-funded SMART Innovation programme, CellPath has created a culture that is inherently focused on research and development and delivering both increased productivity and sales.

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CellPath delivers products and services to the cellular pathology sector, namely histology and cytology. Histology is the investigation of multiple cells that come from biopsies, while cytology tests, such as from cervical smears, analyse individual cells. CellPath produces essential products for these tests - from the chemicals needed to process laboratory samples, to the slides that pathologists use to examine them, ultimately helping medics to diagnose and treat cancer.

Since 2003, the Newtown-based company has also operated an archive management service for cellular pathology blocks and slides and associated materials.

CellPath turned to SMART Innovation to help it secure funding to purchase histology equipment so that it could trial new products in a laboratory setting. The team at SMART Innovation also recommended CellPath automate its manufacturing output, which led to them applying for further funding to purchase a robotic arm and an injection moulding machine.

Research and development director at CellPath, Dr Neil Haine, said: “Cancer diagnostics is a challenging, fast-moving field. We want to develop the next generation of products and services, providing better performance in cancer diagnosis and reduced turnaround times.

“SMART Innovation signposted us to funding, which helped us to purchase new equipment  to test products in a laboratory setting, as well as purchase fully-automated machinery, which improved our productivity, allowing us to make a higher quality product at the same cost as low manufacturing regions, such as China.

“The machine works around the clock and has helped us achieve a 40 per cent increase in orders from export regions last year, as well as retrain staff into higher value and paid roles.”

The business’s successes speak for themselves. CellPath recorded 15 per cent growth last year and has employed 19 new members of staff since early 2018.

Peter Webber, founder and chairman of CellPath, added: “The cancer diagnostics market grows by eight to 10 per cent every year, so it’s vital that we match this to ensure we can meet the demands of our customers - something we have been able to achieve thanks to the support of SMART Innovation. The team of Innovation Specialists are professional, helpful and happy to offer support or advice on what funds are available and where we could best utilise them.

“I’d recommend anyone thinking about applying for SMART Innovation support to contact the innovation team. They’ll come to you to discuss your plans and see if and how they can help – it’s the best way for you to understand exactly how they could support your business.”

CellPath case study
CellPath case study