Business Irish

Thursday 22 March 2018

Cellulac plans €50m biochemical plant in northeast

Tom Lyons

Cellulac, an innovative Irish company chaired by serial entrepreneur Gerry Brandon, is working on plans to invest €50m in an industrial biochemical plant near Dundalk, Co Louth.

The company is understood to be in talks with Enterprise Ireland about creating 60 new direct jobs in the region.

Earlier this month, Cellulac agreed terms with Pursuit Dynamics (PDX), a Cambridge technology business, to buy its marine drive subsidiary for £1m (€1.15m) as part of its expansion plans.

In May, Cellulac signed a €3m joint-venture agreement with two partners to develop biodegradable human implants and bring them to market.

It intends its core prosed new business in Dundalk, however, to be making lactic acid, which is used in everything from preserving food to making plastic bags. The market for the chemical is valued at €1bn worldwide and growing.

When contacted yesterday, Mr Brandon said: "We're not in a position to comment yet, but we are certainly looking at a number of operations, one of which is in Ireland, but we cannot confirm anything at this point."

Mr Brandon previously founded Alltracel, a wound-care company that he listed on London's AIM before the business was sold for €32m in 2008. Cellulac is understood to be looking to raise funds to invest in its Dundalk plant from the London stock markets.

Cellulac last year received a €2.8m grant from the European Commission to commercialise its patented technology, which converts straw into lactic acid, and the company has been adding to its intellectual property portfolio since.

Shares in PDX were suspended on the AIM after it announced its agreement with Cellulac to sell Pursuit Marine Drive Ltd.

The Irish company has agreed to pay a £50,000 deposit to PDX, with £950,000 more to be paid by December 31, or earlier, as certain milestones are met. The assets of PDX include biochemical-making intellectual property and ethanol reactor systems installed in the US, plus various equipment.

Galway-based Cellulac was founded in 2006 by its chief scientific officer, Dr Patrick Walsh, and it is led by Fin Murray.

Dr Michael Mandl, a researcher at innovation institute Joanneum Research in Austria, is also a director.

Its biodegradable medical implants joint-venture is with clinical research organisation Venn Life Sciences and Mayo-based medical device company Biopharmed West.

Venn Life Sciences is led by Tony Richardson, who co-founded Alltracel.

Sunday Independent

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