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24 January, 2006 - 10:38 By Staff Reporter

Young Suffolk company sells global rights of first product to Swedish bio

Vapourtec Ltd, an early stage Suffolk-based technology developer, has sold the worldwide rights to its inaugural product, the V-10 evaporation system, just six months after it was first launched.Vapourtec Ltd, an early stage Suffolk-based technology developer, has sold the worldwide rights to its inaugural product, the V-10 evaporation system, just six months after it was first launched.

The Ingham firm, itself only two and a half years old, will pump most of the proceeds back into drug discovery and associated industries-focused research and development and hopes to launch two new products by the end of next year.

Swedish biotech firm, Biotage AB, will pay up to £2.3 million for the exclusive distribution, production and further development rights to the V-10 solvent evaporation system.

The agreement also provides for Vapourtec to deliver further developments and line extensions for the product within 2006.

The purchase price for the deal consists of an up-front payment and partial payments related to sales development. Commercial activities will begin immediately and Biotage expects sales for 2007 to reach between $5m–$10m.

Jeff Bork, Biotage chief executive, said: "Evaporation presents a major bottleneck in chemistry and drug development. Vapourtec’s V-10 substantially reduces sample drying time for pharmaceutical chemists and fills this void in our product lines."

Dave Patteson, president of Biotages Discovery Chem-istry group, added: "Evap-oration is a technique emp-loyed immediately following synthesis and purification, so it is essential that Biotage offers this technology.

"Vapourtec’s V-10 was brought to our attention by some of our largest customers who participated in the product development phase. In addition to operating in batch mode at rates up to 40 times faster than conventional evaporators, the Vapourtec product also operates in a continuous flow mode, which offers advantages not possible with alternative designs."

As well as alerting Biotage to the V-10, Vapour-tec’s connections to big pharmaceuticals have played a key part in the company’s funding since it was established by chief executive, Duncan Guthrie, in August 2003.

Following some personal finances and a relatively "small" £37,000 DTI Research and Development Grant, much of the firm’s backing has come from consultancy work carried out by the four core staff at Vapourtec and a major loan from one of the world’s top two pharmaceuticals.

Guthrie intends to continue building strong relationships with the big players.

He said: "Biotage was the logical choice for partnering. It has large scale production facilities, a global sales and service presence and we intend to have an excellent relationship going forward on mutual development programmes."

With the licensing deal complete, Vapourtec will concentrate on developing two new products for market and intends to grow its R & D work by 50 per cent over the next 12 months.

The first product is expected to be ready for quarter four this year and will be aimed at a "relatively small niche market."

The firm hopes to have the second product out by mid-2007, this time grabbing a slice of a $40m p.a. market that Guthrie believes is in need of a technological shake-up. "It is dominated by three companies with fairly old technology. We will provide new technology for what is an old problem."

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