By Kim Coghill

Washington Editor

In its second round of venture financing, Guava Technologies Inc., a privately held company that develops microvolume cell-based assay systems, raised $17.5 million.

Guava has developed a personal cytometer called Guava PC, a desktop system that, along with validated reagents and dedicated software, allows biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies to perform single-cell assays in a microvolume format. The first shipment of the product occurred this quarter, said Jack Giroux, Guava¿s executive vice president of corporate operations.

Company officials said the impact of Guava PC for researchers could be as significant as the introduction of the personal computer for office workers.

Money raised in this round of financing will help pay for commercialization of Guava PC, including hiring additional staff. Giroux said the company currently employs 40 people, four of them in sales.

Since it was founded in 1998, Guava has raised $21 million. In its angel round, the company raised $500,000 and in its first venture round, it raised $3 million. Currently the company has about $17.5 million in cash available.

This round was led by ProQuest Investments LP, of Princeton, N.J., and Abingworth Management Ltd., of Palo Alto, Calif. Other investors were the San Francisco firms Paul Venture Capital, Skyline Ventures and Fog City Fund.

¿We are delighted to have the support of an experienced group of life science investors to help us establish Guava as a leader in microvolume cell-based assays,¿ Philippe Goix, founder and president of Guava, said in a prepared statement.

Guava¿s products initially will address therapeutic and medical research. Early applications include cell viability and counting, apoptosis, and antibody screening. In addition, Guava¿s platform is designed to enable specific solutions for drug target and drug discovery applications as well as improving stem cell medical research.

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