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NZ bioinformatics firm ups backing by $1 million

Published: Fri 30 Sep 2005 04:21 PM
30 September 2005
NZ bioinformatics firm ups backing by $1 million – secures first sale in Australia
AUCKLAND, 30 September 2005: Biomatters Ltd, an Auckland company developing world-leading software that dramatically shortens the time needed for computer based biological research, has secured commitments for a further $1 million over the last six weeks, Daniel Batten, its CEO, confirmed today.
This follows presentations to private investors and Government agencies, and comes as Biomatters has also concluded a first sale of a separate product in Australia and is in the process of successfully attracting further researchers from overseas to work with it in New Zealand.
Mr Batten said the latest funding will be used for development and marketing of its new iSeek technology which will be shortly entering final testing. Private New Zealand investors have put in $200,000 via the ICE Angels network, and the company has received a Technology New Zealand Technology for Business Growth grant – payable on a matching dollar-for dollar basis with private funds raised – for $800,000.
Cory Williams, ICE Angels CEO, confirmed that Biomatters has now received two separate rounds of funding from the Angel group, and that the company is perceived as one of the up and coming stars of the group’s portfolio. “Biomatters is positioning itself well for some very good growth in the not too distant future,” he said.
Over recent weeks Biomatters also secured its first Australian customer for a separate product, Cheesecake, used to improve cost-effectiveness in scientific research and has appointed a new partner, Fisher Biotec Australia, to distribute Cheesecake in Australia.
“The business has moved up a gear,” Mr Batten said. “The fact that we are able to attract this level of investment is an endorsement of the value placed on the new technology and its potential to make a real difference to how research gets done globally.”
The iSeek technology is shortly to be trialed at some of the world’s leading research institutes, and has the potential to dramatically cut the time currently taken to research genetic databases. Once testing has been completed Biomatters will promote it internationally.
Mr Batten said one of the most pleasing aspects of the new money and momentum, “is that it is allowing us to attract ex-pats back to this country to do research, as well as some of Europe and America’s top bioinformatics scientists – specifically to do research and development with our company.”
Dr Alexei Drummond, who also holds a lecturing position in computer science at The University of Auckland, has returned from a placement at Oxford University in the United Kingdom to work with Biomatters.
The company has set up a “BEST” scholarship (Biomatters Enterprise Scholarships for Top Achievers) helping bioinformatics graduates conduct post-graduate research in New Zealand, and secured commitments from three leading overseas scientists to come to Auckland to work with the company.
Mr Batten said New Zealand is now regarded as one of the world’s top three providers of Health-IT, and had the requisite skills to do better still in bioinformatics IT.
Biomatters’ first sale of Cheesecake in Australia follows a licensing deal with Protemix Corporation in New Zealand and was to the Howard Florey Institute, a neuroscience centre with 300 staff at Melbourne University.
ENDS

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