Clare-based food diagnostics company AltraTech has raised €900,000 in investment through the Bank of Ireland Seed and Early Stage Equity Fund, as well as Enterprise Ireland and company founders.
AltraTech is developing a single-use portable semiconductor test kit for use in the food and agri sector, for high sensitivity species-specific identification of food content and contaminants.
Founded in 2013 in the aftermath of the horse meat scandal, AltraTech aims to be first to market with an on-site, inline disposable DNA diagnostics kit to reduce the wait time for DNA testing to 30 minutes from today’s two to five days.
Variants of the technology will be applied in environmental, industrial, and retail settings to screen hundreds of samples daily.
AltraTech will use this round of funding to develop and trial its BeadCAP food-DNA test technology and plans to hire staff over the next 12 months to support these plans.
Food for thought
The company participated in Kernel Capital’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence programme and is targeting an agri-food sector in Europe estimated to be worth more than €750bn annually.
The agri-food sector in Ireland employs 150,000 people and is worth €24bn a year in exports.
“Food testing is a US$3bn market today, dominated by older protein-based assays which typically take three to five days in a central lab,” said Tim Cummins, CEO, AltraTech Limited.
“Newer emerging DNA tests are more accurate and specific, but still take two or three days in a central lab. Our BeadCAP technology directly addresses problems, such as the recent ‘horse-burger’ and pig animal protein food adulteration crises, which saw food producers and retailers being faced with quarantine or recall decisions, risk of reputational damage and loss of sales.
“It will enable food producers to do real-time testing and make instant production and dispositioning decisions. We are delighted with this funding, which will enable us to add up to seven new employees over the next year to begin field trials of the technology,” Cummins added.