US government grants fund simulation in pharmaceutical research

DSM, a Dutch company using fermentation and enzyme technology for the chemical, pharmaceutical and food industries, has joined with Genomatica, Inc., “a computational systems biology company” focused on metabolism research, using Genomicas SimPheny(TM), modeling and simulation programme to jointly develop a metabolic model of “a proprietary production organism key to DSM.”

According to Genomatica, “financial details of the agreement were not disclosed, but include license fees and milestone payments.”

Genomatica is privately owned, so no accounts are published. However, in September 2004 Genomatica received a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy “to enhance core components of SimPhenyTM”, as well as other US government grants for $765,000 in November 2003, $750,000 in August 2003, unspecified amounts in January 2003 and October 2002, and $2 million in January 2002.

Its major investor seems to be Iceland Genomics, which invested $2.6 million in Oncosis in 2000. According to the website of Cyntellect, as Oncosis has now been renamed, Iceland Genomics was founded by Tryggvi Petursson in 2000, as an investment fund with the purpose of investing in the US. Mr Petursson is a former founder and CEO of an agricultural feeds company which he later sold.

Its not a bad business model: starter funds, attract US government grants, and enter joint ventures with large multinational providers to develop your technology further. (Genomatica has also entered jvs with Kyowa Hakko and Dow Chemical).

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