Based in Co Mayo, Ovagen now plans to add 65 jobs over the next five years and hopes to see its revenue reach €42m by the end of 2027.
Irish biotech start-up Ovagen has raised €1.1m in an oversubscribed funding round led by the Halo Business Angel Network (HBAN) for its germ-free egg production business.
Ovagen, based in Ballina, Co Mayo, is a biotech company that has developed a process of producing germ-free chicken eggs intended for use in the pharmaceutical industry for products such as vaccines.
According to Ovagen, up to 20pc – or one in five – egg-based vaccine batches are destroyed because of contamination.
Overall, more than 1bn eggs are used every year as ‘bio reactors’ to develop vaccines. Viruses are injected into the eggs to propagate the virus, which vaccine manufacturers can then use to develop vaccines for diseases including the flu, yellow fever, mumps and measles.
Dr Catherine Caulfield, CEO and co-founder of Ovagen, said that current vaccines are developed using specific pathogen free eggs, which are free of many bacteria and viruses, but they are not germ-free and a significant portion become contaminated.
“Our funders have been instrumental in supporting us on our long journey to make a concept a reality,” she said.
“At critical stages in our development, our angel investors have not only provided us with their financial backing, but they have also introduced us to other potential investors, as well as their highly influential industry contacts.”
Ovagen now aims to go to market with the “world’s first germ-free egg” in what is potentially a multimillion euro industry.
“The global potential of the company’s technology is vast and that is why this is the second time HBAN syndicates have backed Ovagen,” said Declan MacFadden, an HBAN spokesperson.
“Ovagen is now in prime position to launch its product and we are excited to see the impact that this ground-breaking development has in a highly lucrative global market.”
Following the latest investment, in which the Western Development Commission and an existing shareholder also participated, the company expects to add 65 jobs (it currently has 12 staff) over the next five years, with revenues reaching €42m by the end of 2027.
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