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Nanostart Enters Asian Market as Lead Investor in Singapore's Biomed Start-Up, Curiox Biosystems

Nanostart AG, the world's leading nanotechnology investment company based in Germany, is taking an investment position in Singapore-based Curiox Biosystems, with a 16.5 per cent investment in the start-up.

A spin-off from Singapore's Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN), part of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Curiox holds a patented convenient and efficient technology platform in miniaturized aqueous bioassays for drug discovery and other life sciences applications. Its ready-for-market technology allows researchers to conduct bioassays significantly faster and cheaper with lesser material, while maintaining the same level of flexibility and convenience as conventional platforms. It reduces the amount of material and reagent required by up to a thousand times, while simultaneously reducing reaction time by ten times. This slashes the time needed to run certain tests by more than 60 per cent and reduce consumable costs by nearly 90 per cent.

Curiox's target customers are research labs and high-throughput screening facilities in life sciences and drug discovery where bioassays are a necessary part of the research process. In particular, the U.S. represents Curiox's largest potential market with more than 12,000 suitable academic and government labs, which spent $14.3 billion on lab instruments, consumables and reagents in 2005, and more than 14,000 industrial pharma and biotech labs, which spent $37.4 billion in 2005. Curiox's technology comprises a chip, upon which the reagents are added, mixed and incubated, and a bench-top station, which automatically completes the rinsing process. Industrial customers will also be able to profit significantly from the reduction in costs for reagents as well as the savings in time.

For Nanostart AG, the investment in Curiox marks its first in Asia and is of strategic importance. Nanostart is investing in Curiox as the lead investor and is thus assuming an active role with its investment managers in the ongoing development of the company, jointly with Exploit Technologies

"Our new investment holding, Curiox, is our first step into the highly promising Asian market," explained Marco Beckmann, CEO of Nanostart AG. "Singapore has established an outstanding position for itself in Asia in nanotechnology. Through our investment in Curiox, we aim to directly participate in the dynamic growth of this region and to live up to our claim of global leadership. Further investments in Asia will follow."

Mr Boon Swan Foo, Executive Chairman of Exploit Technologies Pte Ltd, the marketing and commercialisation arm of A*STAR, said, "We are very excited that the technologies from A*STAR have received such strong interest from Europe, and more so to have Nanostart as a partner to help Exploit Technologies realise the full commercial potential of Curiox. This is a very good beginning and we look forward to more collaborations with Nanostart."

Singapore's IBN, from which Curiox was spun-off, is world-renowned for its expertise in bioengineering and nanotechnology research and is helmed by Prof. Jackie Yi-Ru Ying. She is among the world's leading experts in nanotechnology, and was among the youngest ever to be named a full professor at the world-famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston prior to joining IBN. She will hold a seat on the company's board of directors along with a representative from Nanostart AG.

Prof Ying said, "This technology has enormous potential to accelerate life science, drug discovery and clinical research, and we are delighted to partner with Nanostart AG to bring this technology from the bench to the market."

Curiox will be headed by Dr. Namyong Kim, who was the leader of the IBN research team that developed the new bioassay technology. The CEO-designate of Curiox began his career as a chemist at Agilent Technologies in the U.S. and received his doctorate from MIT. Before he came to IBN, he was the head of the Chemistry group for the U.S. company BioTrove and was also the head of chemistry at an American start-up company.

Said Dr Kim, "We have found the ideal partner in Nanostart AG. Already in the preliminary stages of their investment, we have begun an active exchange with their international network that will be particularly helpful to us in our commercialization efforts. I am very much looking forward to our cooperation."


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