Tate & Lyle Ventures announces today that it will invest in UK-based marine biotechnology company, Aquapharm Biodiscovery Ltd (Aquapharm). Tate & Lyle Ventures forms part of a consortium which has invested second round funding of £4.0m. Aquapharm develops natural products from the microbial resource of the sea and has commercial interests ranging from anti-infective drug discovery to the development of novel anti-oxidants for the nutraceutical and cosmeceutical markets.
Leading the investment is the Amsterdam based venture capital fund, Aescap Venture. Co-investors include Scottish Enterprise, NESTA Investments and Argyll and the Islands Enterprise (AIE). Simon Barnes, Managing Partner of Tate & Lyle Ventures and Patrick Krol, Partner of Aescap Venture will join the Aquapharm board.
Aquapharm builds value from developing new bioactive compounds derived from marine micro-organisms. By applying its proprietary technology the company has been able to culture previously unculturable microbes from collected samples and has built a substantial and specialised library of over 6,500 marine bacteria and fungi.
By applying patented fermentation technology to its microbial library, Aquapharm has the means to develop new classes of pharmaceuticals and industrial products (pigments, antioxidants etc) that can be produced organically without the need to use petrochemicals. Aquapharm has developed many new chemical entities with interesting properties and immediate market application, including:
Pharmaceutical compounds such as new antibiotics to tackle MRSA and C. difficile
Novel bio-catalytic enzymes
Cosmeceutical compounds (e.g. anti-oxidants and anti-ageing compounds)
Carotenoids, Polymers, oligosaccharides and essential fatty acids (omega-3, DHA, EPA).
Dr Andrew Mearns Spragg, the CEO of Aquapharm said “Completing this new investment is recognition by venture capital of the exciting advances made by the company over the past 3 years in the areas of anti-infective development and novel ingredients for functional foods and cosmeceuticals. It is another confirmation of the potential economic benefits that marine biotechnology holds for the development of new innovative natural products for health and wellbeing.”
Dr Simon Barnes, Managing Partner of Tate & Lyle Ventures added "Aquapharm has an excellent ability to develop natural marine-derived ingredients for a wide range of functional food applications and nutraceuticals. Aquapharm’s focus on the sustainable production of ground-breaking bio-ingredients and the advancement of fermentation technology enjoys an excellent fit with our fund strategy."
Aquapharm, led by CEO Dr Andrew Mearns Spragg, was incorporated in 2000 and is located near Oban, Scotland, within the facilities of the European Centre for Marine Biotechnology (ECMB). The Company currently employs a team of 15 full-time staff.
Tate & Lyle Ventures is a £25m venture capital fund focused on investing in high growth companies in the fields of renewable ingredients, food technologies, renewable resources such as biomaterials and biofuels and industrial processing technologies. Tate & Lyle, the fund’s principle investor is one of the world's leading renewable ingredients companies focused on innovation and product development in these sectors. The fund is independently managed by Simon Barnes and David Atkinson of Circadia Ventures, an FSA authorised and regulated firm based in London.