SYDNEY - The Australian Technology Group (ATG) has invested A$2 million in a company with promising technology in the hot new area of manufacturing carbohydrates as material for other biotech applications.

To be invested through the biotech investment management company Start-up Australia, the A$2 million will be spent in setting up the new company, Alchemia Pty. Ltd., in Brisbane.

Start-up director Stephen Robinson said Alchemia has “novel technology“ that allows the solid-state synthesis of carbohydrates, a process that has been highly labor intensive.

He said carbohydrate manufacturing is becoming an active area, with a number of new companies starting up in the sector. But he added the Alchemia technology, devised by two company scientists when they worked with the University of London, has significant advantages.

Alchemia's technology offered commercial opportunities in several market segments, including the sale of reagents for use by carbohydrate chemists, development of combinatorial libraries, custom synthesis of carbohydrates and drug development.

Carbohydrates play a critical role in a number of biotech processes, and also are used in nutritional supplements, cosmetics and agricultural and animal health products.

Tracie Ramsdale, formerly of the Centre for Drug Design and Development, recently was appointed general manager of Alchemia, but declined to comment to BioWorld International, saying all publicity about the company had to be approved.

As previously reported, Start-up Australia is managing A$10 million worth of investment on behalf of ATG - a fund started in 1993 and still owned by the Australian government as one way of boosting Australian technology.

Besides backing of Alchemia, ATG's biotech investments include support for the agricultural biotech company Technico Pty. Ltd.; the Sydney company Fucell Pty. Ltd., which specializes in cell lines that produce human proteins; and Thrombogenix Pty. Ltd., which received A$1.2 million for its development of a new class of blood anticlotting drugs.

Start-up, which manages the biotech investments for ATG, has been trying to raise funds for other investments from Australian institutions.

Robinson said raising additional investment funds has proved difficult, as local institutional investors all want to know what sort of track record Start-up has in biotech investment, but the company expects to have A$25 million under management by the end of the year. *