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Collaborators love company
CAMBRIDGE, England—When Asynt and Grant Instruments collaborated to design and manufacture the FlowSyn continuous flow reactor, the relationship quickly evolved into a new company, Uniqsis. FlowSyn arose, says Martyn Fordham, Uniqsis CEO and Asynt managing director, when Asynt surveyed its U.K. and U.S. markets for gaps and found interest in flow chemistry. Although instruments existed, "they were not attractive to the customer base of discovery chemists," he says.
Chemistry products have short life cycles, says Fordham, partly because the number of pharmaceutical companies and universities is finite. "So it's a market that moves very quickly and one has to adapt and move with that market quickly. It's a market that needs to have the latest technology, but it has to be the right technology, so we were always looking."
An Asynt employee with experience at GSK helped the process, but, with a focus on organic synthesis apparatus, Asynt sought outside expertise for developing and producing a quality flow reactor, then providing worldwide support.
Grant, which specializes in designing and manufacturing custom equipment, met Asynt's needs, says Grant's Paul Pergande, who is also Uniqsis's CTO. "There was interest from us because we not only do the development work, but have worldwide support and worldwide distributors." As for finances, "we really bought into the fact that we would like to be a shareholder," says Pergande.
"This company will grow very rapidly," predicts Pergande. "The first sales have already occurred this year." Uniqsis sold three devices in 2007, and Fordham says many more are budgeted for 2008. Though Fordham describes chemists as "traditional," he says "all the top pharma companies are very keen to move down this avenue."
Uniqsis is already working on accessories to further automate FlowSyn, says Pergande, and finalizing design of an inline UV/VIS spectrophotometer to detect compounds as they elute from the system. Additional enhancements—a fraction collector and reagent supply system for automated operation—are also in the works.
Asynt and Grant each hold shares in Uniqsis; a U.S.-based investor is also involved. Uniqsis has a core team of five, drawing resources from Grant and Asynt as needed. FlowSyn is distributed in the United States through PharmaCore.