Ovagen a Ballina headquartered biotech company at Carrentrila has developed the world’s first germ-free egg. The process and technology used by the company addresses a major issue in vaccine production.
HBAN has led a €1.1M investment in Ovagen. HBAN is an all-island organisation responsible for the promotion of business angel investment, and a joint initiative of Enterprise Ireland and InterTradeIreland. It worked with syndicates, Irrus Investments and WxNW, and have led a €1.1M oversubscribed funding round in Ovagen and funding also came from the Western Development Commission and an existing shareholder.
Ovagen’s groundbreaking proprietary process is a world-first and addresses a problem that sees up to 20% of egg-based vaccine batches being destroyed. It expects to add 65 jobs over the next five years.
Every year, in excess of one billion eggs are used globally as ‘bio-reactors’ to support the development of life-saving human and animal health vaccines. Viruses are injected into the eggs to propagate the virus, which vaccine manufacturers can then use to develop vaccines for diseases. However, currently, one-in-five eggs become contaminated, leaving the vaccines they create unfit for use. It is a multi-million-euro problem for the world’s vaccine manufacturing industry.
Following seven years of research and development, Ovagen has now addressed this issue with its superior quality-verified ‘germ-free’ eggs, produced in the company’s facility in Ballina.
Dr. Catherine Caulfield, co-founder and CEO, Ovagen, says: “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.
“Our funders have been instrumental in supporting us on our long journey to make a concept a reality. At critical stages in our development, our angel investors have not only provided us with their financial backing, but they have also introduced us to other potential investors, as well as their highly influential industry contacts. Their support, along with the tireless dedication of the Ovagen team, puts us in a very strong position as we prepare to go to market with the world’s first germ-free egg.”