Cawthron Institute’s lucrative deal to supply a range of purified marine toxins to international company Sigma-Aldrich saw them nominated for the PWC Commercial Deal Award at the KiwiNet Awards 2015.
Cawthron Technical Manager Paul McNabb and chemist Andy Selwood explain the use for the purified marine toxins and the steps they took to create a viable business model.
Cawthron Institute has completed a major agreement with the US chemical company Sigma-Aldrich to supply marine toxins for food safety testing.
My work at the Cawthron Institute has been about analysis of toxins in shellfish. We purify the toxins, and these are the same toxins that are in seafood. And it just enables people to test that seafood and know accurately how much of this toxin is in it, whether it’s safe to eat or not.
So Cawthron is producing these compounds so they can be sold to labs around the world so they can calibrate their instruments.
And now there’s more demand for these pure toxins to do the calibration. In Europe in 2014, they legislated to make it so that you had to use this new testing method. So we develop a new test that is adopted worldwide, and we freely give that new test to everyone around the world. And that assists New Zealand shellfish into international markets, and at the same time, we can develop our own market for products that are required as part of adopting that new system.
Cawthron used government Pre-Seed Accelerator investment to transform the scientific concept into a viable business model to export products globally.
We now have access to these compounds, which means they can get into this niche market. It’s been a bit nerve-wracking as well, not knowing how big this is going to be. But at the same time, that is really exciting as well. At the moment, the price is about $5,000 per milligram, but in terms of a world demand, possibly hundreds of milligrams per year.
I think the whole process helps New Zealand Inc as a whole.
Video courtesy of Kiwi Innovation Network Limited
© Kiwi Innovation Network Limited, 2015