Australia's Gradipore has brought in external help to find a solution to the company's manufacturing problems for its polyacrylamide gels, used for electrophoretic separations in the life sciences industry.
Professor David Solomon, based at the department of chemistry and biomolecular engineering at the University of Melbourne, will help the company tackle the production process issues that have held back growth in the gel portion of the business over the 12 months.
This is a particularly pressing issue for Gradipore, as it recently realigned its business to focus on three areas - gels, a commercial scale separations technology called Gradiflow and diagnostics. Production issues have stopped Gradipore launching the full range of gels on schedule, holding back sales growth, according to the firm.
Prof Solomon developed the original manufacturing process for Gradipore's gels while head of the school of chemistry at the University.
Meanwhile, Gradiflow is still finding its feet in the marketplace and Gradipore is seeking to position it in niche applications, such as haematological separations. Some preliminary proof-of-principle agreements have been signed for production applications - with the likes of Cangene, Advantek Biologics and Serologicals - but these are still in the early stages.
In the year ended 30 June 2003, the company grew its revenues more than 60 per cent to A$5.5 million (€3.3m), but this fell short of expectations. The company posted an operating loss of A$16.7 million in the year.
Last week, Gradipore unveiled a 200-day plan to get the business on a more commercial track from its former research-focused model.
For Gradiflow, the focus will be on identifying and developing a therapeutic application. The strategy contemplates the negotiation and execution of suitable manufacturing joint ventures, with the technological Drug Master File for the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) completed and work commenced on FDA application for the first therapeutic drug application by the end of the fiscal year.
For the gels business, Prof Solomon's appointment answers the immediate need of tackling the production issue. Meanwhile, Gradipore hopes to bolster sales by entering into distribution agreements to introduce the gels into new markets.
The company also said that the diagnostics division is being evaluated in terms of its fit with the company's long term focus, raising speculation that it may be spun out at some point.