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BioAnalab Ltd, an Oxford University spin-off company, has raised over £500,000 from Oxford's business angels and investor groups in an extremely tough investment market for biotech funding. This is the first funding round for the company, which provides testing services to the pharmaceutical industry, particularly in monoclonal antibodies. The South East Growth Fund is also providing £150,000.
One of BioAnalab's founders, Prof Geoff Hale of Oxford's Churchill Hospital, is an acknowledged expert in the field and one new leukaemia drug, Campath, is already on the market as a result of his team's research. BioAnalab has won its first contract from Ilex, a US biotech company, which is marketing Campath, and received strong interest from other companies.
Another founder, Bruce Savage, is a serial entrepreneur who previously founded Cytocell Ltd, which provides DNA testing kits for a range of diseases. He said:
"Like all entrepreneurs we decided to exploit a market opportunity. Our market research showed that there is a high level of need for BioAnalab's testing services for use in clinical trials. The field of antibody therapeutics is experiencing particularly rapid growth. There are 12 approved monoclonal antibodies generating sales in 2000 of $2 billion with in excess of 100 in clinical trials in at least 80 companies."
The Oxfordshire Investment Opportunity Network (OION), the UK's leading technology business angels network, helped BioAnalab's founders raise the funding needed to get off to a flying start. For Bruce Savage it was his second success with OION. He said:
"I obtained funding for my first company, Cytocell, through OION back in 1994 and knew that the Network has great connections with active business angel investors. So I made a presentation on BioAnalab at one of OION's regular meetings and attracted the interest of Oxford's thriving business angel community. We raised £506,000, with Oxford Venture Capital Trust as the lead investor, and £150,000 from the South East Growth Fund operated by the South East England Development Agency."
Alastair Cavanagh, Manager of OION, said:
"I am delighted that the Oxfordshire Investment Opportunity Network (OION) was able to help BioAnalab raise such a substantial amount of investment, particularly in the present financial environment. Our investors were very impressed, both with the clarity of their message and their determination to generate early revenues. The policy of our Network is to put forward only a selected group of proposals at our monthly meetings. The quality of companies such as BioAnalab has enabled OION to raise about £3m during 2002."