Bioscientists raising £1m to improve IVF success rate

A PIONEERING biosciences company has launched a £1m fundraising bid as it prepares to launch a new IVF product.


Ruskinn Life Sciences, based at the Sony Technium in Pencoed, has developed a laboratory workstation to improve the success rate of IVF.


The company hopes to tap into a growing market for IVF products. There are around 2,800 IVF clinics worldwide and this is expected to increase to 3,400 by 2010.


Ruskinn's AC-TIVE[R] workstation allows user-defined levels of oxygen, carbon dioxide, humidity and temperature to be maintained within the workstation.


This is to better simulate conditions within the human body and therefore increase the chance of fertilisation and early development of the embryo.


Ruskinn is completing its clinical trials and will be selling its workstations by later this autumn.

It needs £1m for working capital to cover the costs of clinical trials and product launch.


Ruskinn was established in 1993 to target the massive increase in demand for assisted conception and reproductive technologies.


In 2001, it was bought by technology company Biotrace, whose core business is in industrial microbiology.


But last year there was a management buyout of Ruskinn after US conglomerate 3M took over Biotrace in a £52m buyout.


Biotrace sold its life sciences division for £1m in a deal led by Samir Patel, the group's former head of life sciences.


Now, former Biotrace chief executive Ian Johnson has joined the Ruskinn team as a non-executive director to help develop the company.


Peter Morgan, the former finance director, is also joining the board, working alongside Mr Patel and chairman Andrew Skinn, who developed the business before selling it to Biotrace.


Mr Johnson said, "Biotrace and Ruskinn started to grow apart and it became clear that the best thing to do was to spin that out and letRuskinn have a life of its own.


"We did that about 18 months ago and Biotrace supported the company in its first year as part of the deal.


"We continued to manufacture the products for Ruskinn at Biotrace until the end of last year and Ruskinn now manufactures its products at its own unit at the Sony Technium.


"Biotrace also kept a 10% shareholding as part of the deal because we believed in the product and the future of the business. It's quite an exciting company. However, there was no core for it at 3M  so the company decided to sell its shareholding back to Ruskinn.


"That was completed last month and it is now a wholly independent organisation and I've been asked to rejoin the board and invest in the business."


Mr Johnson says he hopes to use his experience in Biotrace to help make Ruskinn as successful.

"The business has a steady turnover for its new products." he said.


"The IVF business is one which is growing and will provide significant opportunities to grow the business, one approaching the size of Biotrace."


Frank Holmes of Gambit Corporate Finance is advising on fundraising the £1m for working capital.


He said, "The company's founder shareholders are looking to accelerate their final development stages of clinical trials through to unit sales this year.


"This is a very exciting technology company which will have a significant impact on the success of IVF worldwide.


"It is supported by a very strong team of successful entrepreneurs and scientists which will ensure it is also a huge commercial success."

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