DNA decoding firm signs American deal

By Hamish Fletcher

Candace Kinser says winning last year's challenge gave Biomatters the confidence to pursue its expansion into North America. Photo / Supplied
Candace Kinser says winning last year's challenge gave Biomatters the confidence to pursue its expansion into North America. Photo / Supplied

A New Zealand company helping scientists to make sense of DNA has signed a deal with American gene specialists.

Auckland-based Biomatters produces software that organises the messy tangle of information that is collected during DNA analysis.

"There's a whole bunch of letters and gobbledygook and our software takes that [data] and turns it into meaningful and easy-to-use information," said Biomatters chief executive Candace Kinser.

The company was born in 2003 out of business incubator The Icehouse and has since exported its software internationally, including to 98 of the world's top 100 universities.

"That was out target market, that's who we went after first ... with the view that students would be graduating and taking the product that they knew onwards into their government roles and onwards into commercial roles.

"That's been the theory, rather than a top-down [approach]," Kinser said.

Biomatters also sells products to commercial enterprises and last month announced a partnership with New Jersey-based DNA sequencers Genewiz.

Kinser said the partnership would allow Biomatters to tap into a new customer base and potentially expand into China.

"From a growth perspective, [Genewiz is] the largest contract sequencing private company in China - they have a massive facility - and we would potentially use their expertise to help us market our platform in the future," Kinser said.

The deal with Genewiz comes eight months after Biomatters was awarded funding at the University of Auckland Business School's Entrepreneurs' Challenge.

Now in its third year, the challenge gives businesses the chance to win between $200,000 and $1 million of capital to expand their operations.

Entries are are now open for the 2011 contest and close on July 25.

Biomatters won last year's award while establishing physical offices in the United States and Kinser said the money gave the company the confidence to pursue its expansion into North America.

"It gives us that confidence that if we don't hit a home run with every step we over the next few months, it's okay."

As well as growing internationally, Biomatters also plans to boost its staff numbers in New Zealand as its business gains more momentum.

- NZ Herald

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