BioWorld International Correspondent

PARIS - GenOway SA completed a fourth funding round in which it raised €3.3 million rather than the €4.5 million originally sought.

Participating were three venture capital funds that already were GenOway's main shareholders: lead investor Dassault Développement, of Paris; Qualis SA, of Paris; and Rh ne Alpes Création, of Lyon. Dassault is now the company's largest shareholder, with an equity stake of close to 50 percent, GenOway's chief financial officer, Gilles de Poncins, told BioWorld International.

Founded in 1999, Lyon-based GenOway has now raised a total of €6 million in four stages. The last financing before this was completed in December 2000.

GenOway provides in vivo and in vitro research models that are designed to enhance the efficiency of gene validation, drug screening and preclinical development. It has developed both animal models, using transgenic mice and rats, and in vitro models, using embryonic stem cell differentiation, to study genetically engineered cells.

The company said the funds will consolidate its position as a leader in the development of tailor-made transgenic mice and rats and enable it to launch a new range of products in Europe. It has developed three "safe and fast" technologies for producing genetically modified animal models. Among other things, it plans to release its Safe Transgenesis technology, which guarantees the development of an unlimited number of transgenic animals with predefined characteristics. GenOway said these new products reduce the risk and development time of projects based on the use of transgenic animals.

Last year the company acquired and equipped a 1,200-square-meter research center housing laboratories and research equipment, which is functionally designed for ISO 9002 certification. GenOway stressed that was financed mainly by public authorities in the greater Lyon region and that it financed its share from cash flow.

GenOway already earns revenues from the many contracts it has for in vivo and in vitro target validation services, although de Poncins declined to put a figure on its 2002 turnover. But he did say the company would achieve break-even at the end of 2004 and have a positive cash flow after research and development outlays in 2005.

GenOway has contracts with more than 30 companies and research establishments in 13 countries and its customers include some of the big names in the pharmaceutical industry.