61. Siloton

Siloton’s technology offers at-home clinical eye-imaging to alleviate pressure on the healthcare system and prevent patients from losing their sight.

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Founders: Dr Alasdair Price, Dr Euan Allen, Dr Ben Hunt
Year founded: 2020
Website: siloton.com 

Across the United Kingdom, an alarming number of people are losing their sight unnecessarily. Macular disease, a common cause of blindness, affects one in four individuals over the age of 60. 

It’s a potentially avoidable tragedy – chiefly because treatments for the most aggressive forms of the disease are often administered too late. The challenge lies in timely diagnosis and treatment. This is where Siloton comes in.

The business is pioneering a range of innovative eye scanners that you can use from home. It’s a revolutionary approach to monitoring eye health, particularly given that the types of eye scanners available in hospitals are the size of a cash machine, break down easily, and can cost as much as £120k.

The Siloton team have patented photonic chip technology, allowing for smaller scanners that patients can use to scan themselves in their own home twice a week. This will mean changes in a patient’s condition can be picked up as soon as they occur.

We were starting from nothing. We had very little money, and the process of fabricating a photonic chip costs £20k

The journey towards developing this tech didn’t come easily. With only £3.5k in initial funding that was scrambled together between themselves and an early advisor, the founders faced the daunting challenge of creating a proof of concept.

“We were starting from nothing,” the founders tell us. “We had very little money, and the process of fabricating a photonic chip costs £20k, even without all the equipment needed to get it working.”

As luck would have it, a former colleague who worked at a major photonic chip foundry mentioned there were spare test chips “just lying around”. The team then asked around multiple such foundries, until, eventually, one of them said they could supply a few chips for free.

As they got to work designing their proof of concept, the team had an additional unexpected challenge. “This was all happening in lockdown,” they tell us. “Whereas it would normally be built in a low-noise optics lab, it was all constructed in our CTO’s living room.” 

Eventually, this environment’s Victorian floorboards proved too unstable to get good results. As lockdown began to lift, the team negotiated their own lab space, and were able to complete a proof of concept.

This was all happening during lockdown. Whereas it would normally be built in a low-noise optics lab, it was all constructed in our CTO's living room.

This led to them securing significant venture capital investment of £470k in March 2022. Armed with this, Siloton successfully designed and built its groundbreaking ‘Akepa’ device, obtaining their first retinal image from it, just 11 months after beginning their journey. 

The company has since received additional investment from a swathe of angel investors. It’s also set up collaborations with the Macular Society and the Lion’s Eye Institute, as well as a partnership with Moorfields Eye Hospital in London. 

Siloton is on a mission to take clinical eye imaging out of the hospital and into the community. Its solutions have huge potential for those facing the threat of blindness, and we’re proud to mark this out as a business to watch among our 2024 Startups 100.

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