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Food Startup AltraTech Gets VC Investment


Clare-based food diagnostics firm AltraTech has secured significant financial backing after developing a single-use test kit that can identify the DNA content of a food sample in a matter of minutes.

 

Despite having only been founded in 2013, the startup has secured investment of €650k from Kernel Capital through the Bank of Ireland Seed and Early Stage Equity Fund, with additional funds provided by Enterprise Ireland and the company's founders, for an expected total of €900,000.

AltraTech was founded by Tim Cummins and Brian O'Farrell, following the former's participation in Kernel Capital's Entrepreneur-in-Residence Programme. The company has been developing a single-use portable semiconductor test kit for use in the food and agri sector, for high-sensitivity, species-specific identification of food content and contaminants.

In the wake of the horse meat scandal last year, AltraTech aims to be first to market with an on-site, in-line disposable DNA diagnostics kit which will reduce the wait time for DNA testing to 30 minutes. Currently, the wait can be anywhere from two to five days.

Variants of the technology will be applied in environmental, industrial, and retail settings for screening of hundreds of samples daily.  AltraTech's founders say that they will use the round of funding to develop and trial the firm's BeadCAP food-DNA test technology. Significant recruitment is also planned over the next 12 months to support these plans.

Commenting on the announcement, Tim Cummins, chief executive of AltraTech, said: “Our BeadCAP technology directly addresses problems such as the recent 'horse burger' and pig-animal-protein food adulteration crises, which saw food producers and retailers being faced with quarantine or recall decisions, as well as the risk of reputational damage and loss of sales.

“It will enable food producers to do real-time testing and make instant production and dispositioning decisions. We are delighted with this funding, which will enable us to add up to seven new employees over the next year to begin field trials of the technology.”

Cummins previously founded Kernel Capital portfolio company ChipSensors in 2006, which was acquired by Nasdaq-quoted Silicon Labs in 2010. (17/04/14)

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