Growcorp yields €7m harvest on sale of biotech firm

3 Dec 2008

Investment vehicle Growcorp will earn over €7m following the acquisition of Irish biotech firm Neutekbio by Danish company Biomonitor.

Growcorp is the largest shareholder in Neutekbio with 42pc. As part of the consideration, the Irish shareholders receive 6pc of Biomonitor.

Growcorp was an early stage investor in Galway-headquartered Neutekbio, and has invested €3m since 2003.

Growcorp also brought in Enterprise Equity and Western Development Corporation, each of whom invested €1m. Enterprise Ireland and Millennium Entrepreneur Fund are shareholders, with the balance held by employees.

Neutekbio has developed a proprietary platform and products based on reporter gene technology.

It was one of the first EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) biotechnology operations to be licensed in Ireland.

The technology was the result of collaboration between Neutekbio and CNRS, a French publicly funded research organisation, whose links were established by Growcorp.

Growcorp Group is headed by founder, Professor Michael Donnelly, and Fintan Maher, former investment manager for Irelandia Investments, the family office for the Ryan family.

“Neutekbio has developed a very exciting technology, but we needed an international partner to take it to the next stage of development,” Donnelly said.

Neutekbio has developed cell-based assays and kits called iLiteTM. These assays and kits measure biological activity of cytokines such as Interferons and neutralising antibodies to IFNs and TNFalpha antagonists.

These assays are essential and very important for monitoring drug activity profile, as well as the potential of immunogenicity of biopharmaceutical drugs throughout the entire development and post-marketing testing.

“We are delighted to be retaining a stake in the future of this technology,” Donnelly said, adding it was significant that the R&D would continue to be carried out in Galway.

“Ireland’s future is to develop world-class R&D capabilities like this,” Donnelly said.

By John Kennedy