Marine ingredient firm gets Tate & Lyle cash injection

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Bacteria Nutrition Biotechnology

UK-based marine biotechnology firm Aquapharm Biodiscovery has received £4.2m in extra financing from its current investors which includes Tate & Lyle Ventures – a move it says will boost further development and commercialisation of its marine micro-organisms product portfolio and their applications for nutrition.

Tate & Lyle Ventures was established with a £25m capital fund purse to identify and invest in "high growth" companies in the fields of renewable ingredients, food technologies, and renewable resources, such as biomaterials and biofuels.

Aquapharm develops new bioactive compounds derived from marine micro-organisms.

Amsterdam based venture capital fund, Aescap Venture, is another investor in the Scotland-based biotech firm, as is Scottish Enterprise, NESTA Investments and the Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Managing partner for Tate & Lyle Ventures, Dr Simon Barnes, told this morning that "the extra funding represents our recommitment to the biotech company, which we provided initial financing for back in 2007.

Our primary interest in Aquapharm is its wide array of natural marine-derived ingredients from carotenoids to fatty acids for use in a wide range of functional food applications and nutraceuticals for health and wellbeing.”

He said that the Scottish firm was currently in discussions with partners to exploit the novel food ingredients commercially but he was not able, at this juncture, to go into further detail about those collaborations.

Barnes also said the recent appointment of seasoned biotech entrepreneur Simon Best as the new chief executive officer of Aquapharm was an exciting development, which Tate & Lyle Ventures sees as critical for the biotech’s growth potential.

Best was former chief executive of Roslin BioMed and later chairman of Ardana Plc and the UK BioIndustry Association, states the company. It added that company founder and the current CEO Andrew Mearns Spragg will return to focusing on R&D in his role as chief technical officer.

Aquapharm maintains that its fermentation technology enables it to develop pharmaceuticals and industrial products, including pigments and antioxidants for the nutraceutical market, without the use of petrochemicals.

Using its fermentation technique, it said it has been able to culture previously uncultivable microbes from collected samples and has built a substantial library of over 7,250 marine bacteria and fungi.

Its current ingredient portfolio includes pharmaceutical compounds such as antibiotics to tackle MRSA, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, anti-ageing compounds as well as carotenoids, polymers, oligosaccharides and essential fatty acids.

The company stated that the new financing will also build on existing interest from major pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to enter into discovery and development alliances against a range of disease targets.

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