Limerick genetics firm GenCell Biosystems raises €2.7m in seed funding

9 Oct 2012

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton, TD, with GenCell Biosystems founder and CEO Dr Kieran Curran

A new Limerick-based genetics company, GenCell Biosystems, has raised €2.7m in funding from an international syndicate of investors and Enterprise Ireland.

Founded by its CEO, Dr Kieran Curran, GenCell Biosystems has developed a highly advanced genetic analysis technology that addresses key life-science challenges. It has prototyped a new ‘Composite Liquid Cell’ diagnostic system. This mirrors nature by performing molecular biology within inert synthetic cells.  

The GenCell system uses microfluidic processes and special light wavelengths to automatically analyse DNA profiles and to predict future growth outcomes in individual cells.

The company employs 29 staff, mainly PhDs and post-graduates in areas including molecular biology, engineering, software and business management. The firm has established an 18,000 sq-foot facility at Raheen in Limerick.  

It will recruit a further 20 highly qualified staff and also intends to establish an operation in the United States in the current year. GenCell Biosystems has also formally filed US patent applications and plans to enter full commercial production of its technologies by 2014.

“The technological and diagnostic advances that we are now involved in are bound to have an enormous impact in future years,” Curran explained.

“This investment in GenCell will enable us to expand more quickly into our key markets and offers us the opportunity to be one of the leading international companies in this field. We have already proven the accuracy and effectiveness of our systems which have garnered strong commercial interest to date.  

“Our technology represents a unique and significant step forward and it will form an important new resource for the molecular biology industry,” Curran added.

Healthcare innovation hub for Ireland

Until now, this type of analysis process has typically involved an intensive use of multiple resources. GenCell’s new system brings the various stages of genetic analysis into a single process. It also allows users to massively increase the quantity and speed of data processed in the genetic DNA analysis of biological samples at an unprecedented rate.

With initial applications proving successful in the field of plant and animal-related diagnostics, the company has already gained a number of major international customers.

Ireland’s Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton, TD, said Ireland needs to implement changes to assist the commercialisation of innovative ideas that will lead to quality jobs for its economy.

“We are following through on this with, for example, the establishment of a healthcare innovation hub to bring companies and the healthcare system together to develop new products which can create jobs.

“GenCell Biosystems is a great example of a knowledge-intensive, high-value and export-oriented company attracting funding, expanding and creating jobs in a regional location,” Bruton said.

Lisa Vaughan, department manager, Enterprise Ireland Scaling Team, said Enterprise Ireland worked closely with the company since its foundation in 2011.

“GenCell Biosystems is an ambitious, innovative Irish company that has secured several key multinational partners due to their breakthrough technology and the quality of their product and team,” she said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years