THE man behind one of the largest deals to involve a Scottish life sciences firm is poised to expand his latest venture at home and overseas after netting a government grant.
Founder and chief executive Jim Reid sold Aberdeen University spin-out Haptogen to global drugs giant Wyeth in 2007, five years after the company was launched.
Now Reid is back with Glasgow-based Sistemic, a biotech company that analyses cells on behalf of drugs developers and tells them what effect their new medicines are having.
The company has also branched out into the growing stem cells market, working with companies developing “regenerative medicine” treatments for conditions such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.
Sistemic has been awarded a £130,000 regional selective assistance grant from the Scottish Government, which – when coupled with the company’s own rising cash flow – will form a £1 million investment in the firm’s expansion. The firm will relocate from Glasgow University to the West of Scotland Science Park next year and will more than double its staff to 18.
Reid opened a sales office in Boston within Sistemic’s first year in business as part of his plan to forge ahead with global sales from the outset.
He now wants to add a further sales office in California and a manufacturing plant in Boston to complement the existing facility in Glasgow.
Reid said: “We are absolutely brilliant at carrying out scientific research in Scotland and creating intellectual property.
“One of the problems is we can become mesmerised by the science and not concentrate on what its practical applications could be and where it could fill gaps in the market. So, when Sistemic was set up, we were very clear about which markets we should target.”
The company wasn’t founded as a university spin-out but was instead formed by four academics – Vincent O’Brien, the firm’s chief operating and scientific officer, non-executive directors Peter Estibeiro and John Gordon, and Chris Hillier, the firm’s former chief executive who recently took up a position at the University of the West Indies in Barbados – to market their cell analysis technology.
Funding has so far come from Reid’s own ChimaeraBio outfit and the Scottish Investment Bank’s co-investment fund to the tune of about £500,000 in total.
Sales this year are expected to reach about £645,000 and Reid expects them to more than double next year.