The story and people behind the creation of SPARTA®

SPARTA® was developed through years of innovative research and is set to enable accelerated and robust nanoformulation development.

Enabling nanoformulations for next-generation therapeutics

Across the entire spectrum of the life sciences sector, from academia and hospitals to pharmaceutical and biotech companies, enormous amounts of resources are invested in the development of new treatments to combat the largest public health challenges. This ranges from advanced cancer treatments that significantly improve survival, to treating previously untreatable diseases through gene therapy. The absolute breakthrough in nanomedicine technology was recently signified with over 50% of the global population having now received a COVID-19 vaccination, many of which were mRNA vaccines. However, the technologies available to analyse these new medicines continue to lag behind. There remains a largely unmet need for specifically designed analytical tools that are more sensitive and capable of accelerating R&D and improving quality control of nanoformulations.

The SPARTA® technology, offered exclusively by SPARTA Biodiscovery, fulfils this need through its ability to chemically characterise the individual particles in nanomedicines to ensure each particle does what it is supposed to do. The depth of data SPARTA® provides will enable improved efficiency in troubleshooting and process development of next generation therapeutics and is designed to work for partners across all sectors of the life sciences. This will have a plethora of benefits, most notably for patients who will have quicker access to safer technologies for disease treatments and vaccinations.

SPARTA®’s origin

SPARTA® – Single Particle Automated Raman Trapping Analysis – is a bench-top instrument developed through years of innovative research by multidisciplinary UK-based experts in analytics, chemistry, optics and bioengineering from the highly renowned Stevens Group at Imperial College London. SPARTA® was developed as an answer to the pressing need for novel analytical tools specifically designed for nanoformulation analysis and to meet the demands of R&D and quality control requirements of the next generation of pharmaceuticals.

The faces behind innovation

Meet the team

Prof. Dame Molly Stevens, DBE FRS FREng

Co-founder, advisory board chair

Professor of Biomedical Materials and Regenerative Medicine at Imperial College London, Director of the UK Regenerative Medicine Programme Hub and co-inventor of SPARTA®. A serial entrepreneur, has NED experience, was previously CSO and is Foreign Member of the US National Academy of Engineering and of the US Academy of Arts and Sciences. Head of the renowned Stevens Group at Imperial College London which has been recognised by over 30 major international prizes. Has published over 350 academic papers and is recognised by Clarivate as one of the world’s most highly cited researchers.

Dr. Jelle Penders

Co-founder, CEO/CTO

Experienced postdoctoral research associate in the field of biomaterials and analytical chemistry.  Co-inventor of SPARTA® and led the technical development since its inception, has a strong background in nano characterisation techniques including Raman spectroscopy and Electron Microscopy. He is driven to build a sustainable business around the SPARTA® technology, with patient benefit at its heart, to catalyze the full potential of the next generation of safe and effective nanomedicine treatments.

Dr. Alastair Smith


Founder and Chief Executive of Avacta Group plc, an AIM listed biotech. Has significant experience building early stage businesses during fifteen years as a public company CEO along with extensive management, strategic planning and transactional experience. Is well known in the UK public markets and well respected and trusted executive with many years’ experience of investor relations in the UK, Europe and US. Has also successfully delivered multiple follow-on fundraisings for the Avacta Group. Passionate about building successful healthcare, science and technology businesses based on world-class ideas and great teams.

Mr Steven Binninger

Investment Director

Head of Collaborative Technology Development & Commercialization at Sartorius where he leads a team focused on research, development, and commercialization. He has over 10 years of experience in creating and bringing biotechnology tools, technologies and reagents to the market. Has supported many of the top biotechs and pharmaceutical companies in Asia, Europe, and North America in process and technology development. Focused on bringing pioneering innovations to the forefront of medical breakthroughs.

Dr. James Wilkinson

VP of Customer and Commercial Success

An experienced sales, business and market development executive with a background of taking novel technologies to market. After completing studies at the University of Cambridge across the field of protein chemistry he has worked for companies across Europe helping to successfully establish a variety of new biophysical technologies for both academic and industrial applications. Repeating this success he has gained extensive experience of growing companies, scaling customer facing teams in a rapid growth environment, maintaining revenue growth and establishing customer success in novel technologies.

Dr. David Choveaux

Business Development and Operations

Translational Research Manager with experience providing strategic and specialist research translation and development support. Equipped with a record of success in planning, developing, writing and editing proposals that have attracted research funding to develop novel technologies and solutions in the health tech space. Possesses broad experience covering proposal development, intellectual property management, and commercialisation of research innovations.

Dr. Ashkan Roozbeh

Senior Optical Engineer

Ph.D. in Optical Physics, specializing in advanced microscopy and spectroscopy methods, with a wealth of experience in the development of cutting-edge optical systems and instrumentation. Particularly passionate about innovating methods to enable the characterization of single particles.

Dr. Callum Macdonald

Software Engineer

Previously a postdoctoral research associate in biomedical optics & imaging, he held posts at University College London, and L’Institut Fresnel. His expertise includes the development of models, simulations and software for scientific research. He is also keenly interested in modern data science techniques.

Dr. Catherine Saunders

Applications Specialist

An analytical scientist with experience in particle formulation and characterisation. During her PhD at Imperial College she developed single particle analyses for a range of nanoparticles. She is passionate about pushing forward characterisation techniques to unlock the full potential of nanoformulations for medicine.

Dr. James Foote

Product Innovation Manager

Previously a research associate at Imperial College London focussing on the synthesis of novel biomaterials and chemical probes. In his role as Product Innovation Manager James is responsible for commercialising a range of novel chemical probes alongside managing consumable production and aiding in business development of SPARTA® as a company.

Dr. Srikanth Ravipati

Senior Software Engineer

Scientific software engineer with expertise in developing algorithms and software in the context of diverse scientific research areas. With the experience of full software life cycle development, he is leading the development of SPARTA software portfolio. His professional interests are in developing user-friendly and sustainable software that enables and helps users to deliver reproducible research.

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