Mayo-based Ovagen has raised €1.1 million in funding and said it expects to add 65 jobs in the next five years as it further develops its germ-free eggs.
The funding round was led by Halso Business Angel Network (HBAN) through its Irrus Investments and WxNW syndicates. The round, which was oversubscribed, was also backed by the Western Development Commission (WDC) and an existing shareholder. The latest round brings the total raised by Ovagen to more than €19 million to date.
The biotechnology company has developed a process of producing germ-free chicken eggs and germ-free birds, primarily for use in the pharmaceutical industry Where more than one billion eggs are used globally each year. The eggs are used to support the development of vaccines for both animals and humans, for diseases such as flu, yellow fever, mumps and measles.
The funding will be used to expand staff numbers, carry out evaluation trials on vaccine batches made using the eggs, and officially launch the eggs to pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Up to 20 per cent of egg based vaccine batches are destroyed because of contaminated eggs. Ovagen’s eggs can help to prevent this. Following seven years of development. the germ-free eggs, which are produced in the Ballina headquarters of the company, ensure no bacteria can enter the egg after it is laid.
“Currently, vaccines are developed using Specific Pathogen Free (SPF) eggs. While these are free of many bacteria and viruses, they are not germ-free and a significant proportion become contaminated with bacteria,” said Ovagen chief executive and cofounder Dr Catherine Caulfield.
The company said it expects revenues to reach €42 million by the end of 2027, producing up to four million eggs a year by that date. It is also looking into the possibility that the eggs could give a higher viral yield, which would reduce the number of eggs needed for vaccines.
Ovagen plans to build three more facilities in Ballina, along with global satellite facilities close to drug manufacturing sites.
“The global potential of the company’s technology is vast and that is why this is the second time HBAN syndicates have backed Ovagen,” Declan MacFadden, spokesperson for HBAN’s WxNW syndicate, said.