US firm supplying Government’s mass Covid testing drive won contract with help of tiny British firm which had been in debt and had no healthcare experience
- Californian firm Innova Medical Group will supply £2.8bn of lateral flow kits
- Chief executive has previously told how Northants-based Disruptive Nanotechnology Ltd were key in helping them beat established industry giants
- The company’s last accounts, published in 2019, show it had no reserves and debts of £2,368 – but it is now set to earn a fortune
The US company supplying the government’s latest mass testing drive won their first contract with the help of a tiny British firm who were in debt before the pandemic and had no experience in healthcare.
The UK has agreed to buy at least £2.8bn worth of rapid lateral flow tests from Innova Medical Group, which has already delivered millions of kits to schools and NHS and care home staff.
The Department of Health said the Californian company, which is owned by a private equity firm, would be supplying the kits for the twice-weekly testing announced by Boris Johnson on Monday.
Innova’s chief executive has previously told how Northamptonshire-based Disruptive Nanotechnology Ltd were key in helping them beat more established industry giants to secure the first lucrative deal last Summer.
Daniel Elliott said its founder Kimberley Thonger, 62, who had been running the firm from his £375,000 terraced house in Wellingborough, had helped Innova navigate the tricky government bureaucracy.
Disruptive Nanotechnology, based in Northants, had no reserves and debts of £2,368 in its last accounts (stock image)
The company’s last accounts, published in 2019, show it had no reserves and debts of £2,368 – but it is now set to earn a fortune after being chosen as Innova’s sole UK and EU distributor for the rapid tests it sells commercially.
The firm, which is run by former shoe dealer Mr Thonger and former surveyor Charles Palmer, who joined last summer, now operates under the name Tried&Tested.
Commercial prices for one box of 25 tests costs £324.75, according to the Tried&Tested website, which works out at £12.99 per test. This goes down to £6 per unit if 1,000 boxes are bought at once.
Innova is already believed to be the largest single recipient of payments from UK Government contracts during the pandemic, reported by the Sunday Times last month to total £2.8billion.
With ministers keen to reduce the UK’s reliance on kits shipped from abroad, three British firms have also been chosen to produce rapid tests. But they have yet to pass the necessary tests and are not yet being manufactured.
Last month, Mr Elliott said the company was scaling up production to 50 million tests a day and were building a factory in the UK to keep up with demand.
He said the UK was its biggest customer, with hundreds of millions of tests already delivered and a total of one billion expected by the middle of this month.
Innova Medical Group secured the exclusive global rights to lateral flow tests made by a Chinese company called Biotime Biotechnology in Xiamen city, Fujian province.
The US company is owned by the equity house Pasaca Capital, which was founded by Chinese businessman Charles Huang.
Mr Huang was born in Wuhan and gained an economics degree at the city’s university. He later studied for an MBA at the University of Strathclyde.
A spokesperson for Tried&Tested said: ‘Tried&Tested has no contractual relationship with the UK government.
‘To be absolutely clear, the company is the sole distributor of Innova lateral flow devices to the UK commercial market and is not involved with Innova’s UK government contract.’
Innova Medical Group secured the exclusive global rights to lateral flow tests made by a Chinese company called Biotime Biotechnology in Xiamen city, Fujian province (stock)