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Aquapharm Bio-Discovery Ltd completes £1.25M funding and is first to locate in the new European Centre for Marine Biotechnology


Aquapharm Bio – Discovery Ltd (Aquapharm), a leading UK marine biotechnology company developing, amongst other things, anti-infective drug candidates from marine natural products, is pleased to announce the completion this month of its latest round of financing.

The investment of £344000 by E-Synergy Ltd and the Scottish Enterprise Co-Investment Fund completed the £1.25 million package by adding to a recent earlier investment of £350000 (£175,000 each) by NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) and Argyll & the Islands Enterprise (AIE), and thereby paving the way for a future equity investment of £253,400 and grants of up to £300000 from AIE.

Aquapharm was formed in 2000 by Dr Andrew Mearns Spragg & Dr Kathryn Fraser, and is one of the first UK marine biotechnology companies. This funding round has allowed it to expand into new bespoke laboratory facilities within the European Centre for Marine Biotechnology (ECMB), which is situated beside the sea near Oban in Argyll. The Company currently employs a team of 9 full-time staff and has recently strengthened the management team with the addition of three new non-executive directors.

Dr Jo Oliver who through a previous association with SAMS has a knowledge of who is doing what in marine biotechnology, and Mr Colin Garvie, who has extensive financial and commercial experience gained over 25 years which included working with one of the UK’s largest Venture Capital firms, will join long standing non-ex chairman Dr Ron James who provides commercial and deal making support to the board. The incoming investor director, Dr John White, a successful entrepreneur in his own right and a member of E-Synergy’s angel syndicate, will fly his own light aircraft to the local airport to attend board meetings and brings in a wealth of commercial skills.

Dr Andrew Mearns Spragg, the CEO of Aquapharm said “Completing this investment will allow the Company to increase its research programmes including expansion of the project screening of novel marine organisms for new antibiotics. Already, a new anti-infective molecule has been identified that targets multi-drug resistant infections such as MRSA. There is a definite need for new types of antibiotics to combat bacterial infections that have become resistant to most of our available antibiotics” Aquapharm’s other research programmes are the development marine sources of functional foods & organic carotenoid pigments.

The Company also offers access to its growing collection of marine organisms, some of which are new to science, and most of which were collected from Scottish waters, some of the most prolific and cleanest of marine environments in the world, to pharmaceutical and biotech companies that have assays to screen for other drugs, industrial enzymes etc.

Lachie Beaton, a spokesman for AIE said “We are delighted that Aquapharm has completed its funding package.” The ECMB was established along side SAMS to foster commercial development of marine science and build on the world-class academic marine biology we have here. It fits with the objectives of the Smart Successful Scotland programme”. John White added, “We are happy to have made this investment. The work the Company is doing is exciting and we believe, in time, we will make a good return. It is the first investment we have done with the Scottish Co-Investment fund, but I hope it will not be the last.

Joseph Meaney | alfa
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