Funding problems too big for Cambridge nanotech firm

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2008 2:51 pm    Post subject: Funding problems too big for Cambridge nanotech firm Reply with quote

03 October 2007 Business weekly
Funding problems too big for Cambridge nanotech firm

Sam Fountain

Cambridge nanotechnology firm, Akubio has appointed business advisory firm Baker Tilly to try to save the company after it was forced into administration in September.

The Cambridge University spin-out developed a portable and low cost, rapid response disease diagnosis device, aimed at helping doctors make instant and accurate diagnoses for diseases such as malaria and meningitis, but has come into financial difficulties after having trouble finding funding for continued development of its nanotech products.

The news comes as a shock as the company has been the subject of considerable investment, including most recently, a three-year £1.65m development programme, part-funded by a Collaborative R&D grant under the Department of Trade and Industry’s Technology Programme.

As a result of the money troubles, Cambridge Science Park-based Akubio has had to make a number of redundancies, and called in Baker Tilly to try and find a buyer for the company as whole.

“Akubio was founded in 2001 as a spin-off from the University of Cambridge, focusing on the design and supply of equipment to research scientists in a number of fields,” said the appointed administrator for Baker Tilly, Graham Bushby.

“Financial problems developed after the company was unable to obtain further investment to fund the ongoing development of its ground-breaking products.”

Utilising the piezoelectric properties of quartz crystals to enable real time, label-free analysis of molecular binding events, Akubio’s detection method can ‘hear’ viruses and bacteria being shaken off a surface, enabling on-the-spot, rapid detection and determination of molecular interactions.

In 2005, BW reported that Akubio was looking at the application of its Resonant Acoustic Profiling (RAP) in bioterror countermeasures, and had seen considerable interest from an unnamed US organisation.

It also sold an equity stake in the company to GSK Ventures, in return for the right to the intellectual property, equipment and know-how related to GSK’s piezoelectric crystal microbalance sensor system.

The company said that it has been forced to make half of its existing workforce redundant, leaving 20 people looking for work.

“The remaining key staff are continuing to maintain and protect the business and its intellectual property pending its sale as a going concern,” Bushby said.

Baker Tilly said that it is currently in negotiations with a number of parties interested in purchasing the company.

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