Micrima, a Bristol-based breast imaging tech company, has raised £2.6m in funding from pre-existing and new investors.

Founded in 2006, the company’s patented MARIA technology aims to make breast screening safer, more comfortable and more accessible to a larger proportion of the female population.

The round drew in support from re-investing shareholders including Technology Venture Partners LLP, Swarraton Partners, and the Angel CoFund. The University of Bristol Enterprise Fund has been welcomed as a new investor.

Roy Johnson, founder and executive chairman of Micrima, said: “Breast cancer is the most common cause of death in women between the ages of 35 and 55 in Europe and the leading cause of death for women in many countries. The problem is that many tumours are not discovered early enough, largely due to the difficulty in discriminating between cancers and dense tissue using current imaging technology.”

The firm says it will use the funding to support accelerated development of its MARIA technology, initially pioneered at the University of Bristol, with plans to start the commercialisation of its first system towards the end of this year.

“Using harmless radiowaves, the MARIA imaging system is capable of detecting tumours in dense tissue and allows routine and repeated scanning without any of the safety or comfort concerns associated with x-ray mammography. The process takes less than five minutes and avoids painful breast compression,” Johnson continued.

Tim Mills, investment director at the Angel CoFund, commented: “We originally invested in Micrima because we knew we’d found an extremely capable team working with some very interesting technology in a sector with considerable opportunity for innovation. The team has really delivered on our expectation in the last couple of years and we’re very happy to be supporting them again through this next phase of development.”