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Mocon buys into Irish bioscience firm

By Rory Harrington , 22-Jan-2010

Mocon Inc has prioritised the development of a pathogen screening process for a range of foods after announcing it has acquired a 16.9 per cent stake in Irish company Luxcel Biosciences Ltd.

The US-based company, a leading global supplier packaging test equipment, said it had completed the deal to invest €2.5m (US$3.6m) in Luxcel on 15 January.

The Irish firm was founded in 2002 as a spin-off from University College Cork to create commercialised research and technology in phosphorescence-based sensor development and the applications of these sensors for biological testing. Their products enable rapid, high throughput screening and detection of bacterial contamination of food samples, non-invasive analysis of gas in food, beverage and pharmaceutical packaging.

Pathogen screening programme

Mocon confirmed that as part of the initial post-investment activity it would be dedicating some of its research and development resources to a project to help bring a lower-cost screening process for high-throughput pathogens such as Listeria, E.coli and salmonella for a range of food processing industries. The application will be suitable for the meat, poultry, seafood, produce and dairy sectors, it said.

“Luxcel’s technology, products and services represent a strong strategic addition to Mocon’s core instrumentation business,” said Mocon CEO and president Robert Demorest.

He added that the move would help provide a new generation of products and services “including faster, less expensive testing for pathogens”.

Luxcel CEO Richard Fernandes described the partnership with Mocon as a "perfect fit". He confirmed the US company planned to design and manufacture dedicated instrumentation to measure Luxcel’s sensor and launch the new systems in the US and other markets.

Deputy Prime Minister of Ireland and Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment Mary Coughlan said the deal was a “major opportunity” for both companies. Enterprise Ireland, the governmental agency responsible for the development of that country’s business sector, also announced that it was increasing its equity position in Luxcel.

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