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City Spin-out: Citifluor Ltd

Citifluor Ltd is a spin-out company from City, University of London. The founder and Managing Director of Citifluor Ltd is Dr Stephen Davidson. Since 1982 Citifluor has been developing and manufacturing specialist products to minimise the effects of photobleaching of fluorescent probes for staining biological specimens. Citifluor clients include hospitals, research institutes, universities, medical centres and forensic labs.

The Challenge

Photobleaching is destruction of the dye in florescent probes by bright light, usually used in microscopy. These dyes are essential in the images used for medical research.In 1981 Dr Davidson, then Professor of Organic Chemistry at City, took part in a project with the London Hospital to delay photobleaching in the images necessary for research into antibodies

The Solution

In the course of this project Dr Davidson developed a new mountant that prolonged the lifetime of images with one of the earlier successes being the imaging of a rare melanoma.

Dr Davidson not only made a break-through discovery but he also saw an opportunity to manufacture the mountant solutions on a commercial basis. He approached City's senior management for permission to spin out a company and exploit the results of his research.

City supported the fledgling business by giving it a room in the Chemistry Department and funding a technician and materials necessary to make up the solution. It also provided help with marketing and advertising. The business was fully owned by City until Dr Davidson bought it out in the late 1980s.

Dr Davidson registered Citifluor as a trademark.

In recent years the competition has intensified with large companies with more advanced capabilities entering the market but Dr Davidson remains positive about the future of his business and has no immediate plans to retire from it.