Spare a thought for agri-tech companies out there focused on microfluidics — the swiftly advancing science of handling and manipulating tiny flows of fluids measured in microliters or picoliters. It’s key for crop science, and it is already bringing an ever deeper understanding of how crops react to light. Such increasingly precise measurements could improve yields as they widen knowledge about the effect of varying intensities of indoor and outdoor lighting on plants.
The Swiss biotech company Creoptix has a reputation for developing bioanalytical instruments which can analyse and control microfluidics. Earlier this week, the Creoptix team disclosed their series C raise of CHF 8 million, which is just over $8 million. The round was led by Swisscanto Invest by Zürcher Kantonalbank, and joined by Waters Corporation along with existing private investors. Robert Schier of Swisscanto Invest has joined the Creoptix board, the company says.
Biotech with an agtech application
Much attention on the work at Creoptix has been on the use of their bioanalytical instruments in the discovery of new drugs and cures for diseases. But there is a relevant agtech application as well, a spokesperson for the company tells AFN: “The instrument is sensitive and robust enough to allow researchers to study the different interactions that photoreceptors (proteins designed to perceive light) can undergo in depth. Areas where we see an added value for our technology include artificial lighting or improvement of the performance of crops (to therefore increase their market value).”
This financing round brings total funding to more than CHF 15 million since 2013. The company say the proceeds will enable Creoptix to strengthen its commercial operations in Europe as well as in the US and to expand its market share. Already, they have developed and marketed a product called Creoptix WAVE systems; these study molecular interactions in real-time. Based on proprietary waveguide interferometry technology, the Creoptix WAVE system offers a level of sensitivity superior to the widely used tech of Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR). It has a crude sample robustness, the company says, that is normally only achieved with plate-based assays. The technology “is facilitating new analytical applications such as membrane protein analysis in drug discovery and real-time kinetic interaction studies in body fluids for biomarker and biotherapeutics development.”
Swisscanto Investment Director Robert Schier decided to lead the round because Creoptix WAVE systems, he said, “convinces as a mature, robust, versatile and sensitive technology.” He reckons it “addresses many existing and novel applications in life sciences” and has “excellent commercial potential, which has been confirmed by existing customers and increasing revenues this year.”
“This financing round,” Creoptix CEO Matyas Vegh also says in a statement, “provides us with the funds to support our plans to grow our commercial operations and to expand our presence in the market.” His Chairman, Eduard M. Brunner, highlighted his company’s “significant potential to make a real impact on the bioanalytical instruments market.”