Amphion Innovations PLC acquires 29% stake in award winning Durham University spin-out company
London, England, September 21 2005 - Amphion Innovations PLC, the recently listed developer of life sciences and technology businesses, announces it has invested £1 million in Durham Scientific Crystals Ltd (DSC), a Durham University spin-out company developing next generation semiconductor materials for medical and security imaging markets.
DSC produces radically improved and more cost effective semiconductor materials than are currently available, which are used in detectors for medical, security and defence digital x-ray imaging. These materials have the potential to revolutionise the medical x-ray imaging market by enabling the transition from analogue to digital, dramatically improving the screening of baggage in airports and railways, and allowing the manufacture of in-demand handheld scanners.
DSC has a strong and growing IP (patent) portfolio. The diagnostic imaging market is a $70 billion industry in the US, representing approximately 10% of all expenditures for medical care. X-ray based systems dominate the diagnostic imaging market in terms of growth and revenue, with over a 50% share, so the transition to digital X-ray imaging represents enormous market potential.
Amphion’s investment in DSC represents the first fully external round of funding, after an earlier angel funding round by members of the management team. The investment will give Amphion a stake of 29% on a fully diluted basis and will secure ownership of key technology currently under exclusive licence from the University to DSC. Other shareholders are the University of Durham and DSC’s founders.
This investment will allow DSC to further develop its technology and patent portfolio and build up its management and marketing teams. Amphion’s participation will also accelerate access to key US markets.
This is Amphion’s first investment in a UK based university spinout since their recent AIM flotation. Amphion’s senior management team played a key role for Medisense, one of the UK’s most successful University spin-outs. Based on technology from Oxford and Cranfield universities, it was sold to Abbott Laboratories for $900 million in 1996.
DSC’s initial products are in the area of Cadmium Telluride based x-ray detectors.
Arnab Basu, CEO of DSC said:
“Cadmium Telluride has long been accepted as the electronic x-ray detection material of choice in many key applications. We are the first in the world to develop a process for producing predictably high quality and large area material for detectors with high yields and greatly improved production economics. Our unique technology arrives as our target international markets are moving to digital detection.”
Max Robinson, a substantial angel investor in DSC and a recognised national expert on x-ray imaging, said:
“Working with Amphion as a development and investment partner has been a refreshing contrast to some of my past experiences as an entrepreneur. In addition to providing the early stage investment, we feel we will benefit greatly from Amphion’s hands-on partnership approach to company building, their extensive track record in developing medical technology companies, and their access to US markets. Prior to this investment, we have been actively working with Amphion to develop our IP portfolio, driven by a focus on emerging market needs.”
Richard Morgan, CEO of Amphion Innovations PLC, added:
“DSC is illustrative of the high quality of business that can be created from IP in UK Universities when working with the right development partners. We are delighted to own a significant share in such an exciting company. The detector sub-systems markets that our technologies can address is estimated to be worth $2 – 3 billion by 2010.”
Technology and IP
DSC’s developing products are well matched to meet the emerging demands in electronic x-ray imaging which is undergoing a change analogous to the move to digital in the home photography market. In medicine for example, users have turned to digital X-ray image capture because it improves the capabilities for diagnosis and treatment of patients. The digital systems convert Xrays directly and electronically into high definition images that can be viewed in real time, enhanced and analysed by computer, stored in a more cost effective manner and retrieved and transmitted when required.
Cadmium telluride and related compounds (such as cadmium zinc telluride and cadmium mercury telluride) have long been known to be the ideal detectors for such systems. However, before DSC and its revolutionary process, they were very difficult to grow into the high quality crystalline structures required.
Presently, the only suppliers of these specialty materials are supplying at extremely high prices, more expensive per gram than gold, and in very small and inconsistent quantities. The material is already in demand in spite of these difficulties because of its greatly superior properties Driven by increasing number of procedures requiring diagnostic imaging and by the enormous replacement market for many older film based devices the digital x-ray system markets have been experiencing market growth of up to 20 -30% per year in recent years.
There are many types of device and application, the digital flat panel x-ray detector market alone worldwide will be over $500 million in 2006 and is growing at 20 percent per year. The specific applications, which DSC is particularly well placed to serve, like digital radiography equipment, will be among the fastest growing segments.
DSC enabled X-ray devices will allow lower dosages given to patients and faster, higher definition, higher information-content images from more cost effective detectors.
There will also be major opportunities in homeland security including more rapid and accurate baggage scanning and new generation hand held scanners, in non-destructive testing (NDT) in industry and in high quality Infrared imaging systems, used in defence and elsewhere.
The company, which won regional technology company of the year award in May 2005, is featured in a national and international publicity campaign by the regional development agency One Northeast, beginning in the Financial Times on September 8th, as a prime example of world class innovation originating from universities in the North-east region of England. It has recently moved into dedicated facilities at NetPark, the flagship Technology Park in the region.
For further information please contact
Durham Scientific Crystals, Ltd.
Arnab Basu, CEO
0 174 062 5255
Amphion Innovations plc
Josh Berkman, Media Relations
+1 (646) 747 7158
About Durham Scientific Crystals, Ltd.
Durham Scientific Crystals (DSC) is a spin out company from the Physics Department of the University of Durham. Formed in April 2003, it has developed proprietary semiconductor materials and production processes. The company has acquired worldwide exclusive rights to commercially exploit technologies developed in the University through research over the last 3 decades and is rapidly growing its own IP portfolio.
On the web: www.dscrystals.com
About Amphion Innovations plc
Amphion Innovations plc recently listed on the AIM Exchange in London under the symbol AMP. Amphion's business is the formation, financing, management and development of life science and technology companies, working in partnership with corporations, governments, universities, and entrepreneurs seeking to commercialize their intellectual property.
On the web: www.amphionplc.com