Hi-tech scanner attracts investor

HAMISH MCNICOL
Last updated 05:00 19/07/2013
Andrew Coy
KENT BLECHYNDEN/Fairfax NZ
BENCHMARK PRODUCT: Magritek chief executive Andrew Coy sees worldwide potential in its bench-top product Spinsolve.

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Wellington scientific instrument maker Magritek is hoping a major investment will help sell its "revolutionary" $100,000 commercialised liquid scanner to overseas markets where similar products can cost millions of dollars.

Magritek, which last year merged with a German scanning company, yesterday announced Wellington investment company Rangatira had bought a 12 per cent stake in the company.

The deal would see the acquisition rise to 18 per cent in a year's time, but the value of the agreement was not disclosed.

Magritek has recently developed a new product, called the Spinsolve, which it wanted to take to a global marketplace.

Chief executive Dr Andrew Coy said Rangatira's capital would be used to help boost offshore sales and marketing, particularly in the growing Asian market.

The product, he said, was essentially a bench-top liquid scanner using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) technology, which allowed users to look inside liquids.

This could have uses in pharmaceutical, food, polymer, petrochemical and education industries, and would be sold for between $50,000 and $100,000.

"We use them [liquids] all over the place. They're in our food, they're in our energy sources, they're in our healthcare, medicines and pharmaceuticals, and so the ability to measure what we're doing in chemistry and all of these industries is actually critical for building and for growing companies and businesses."

For instance, the scanner could be used for quality control in the food industry and would pick up anomalies in food production, such as melamine residue in milk.

Coy said the key difference between Magritek's product and existing technologies was the speed, cost and size of the Spinsolve.

"NMR instruments are large machines, cost about half a million, and you have to put them in the basement in special rooms.

"So, to have something that's designed to go into a chemistry lab and sit on a bench where chemists are working or even into a production area where they can use it for quality control, for NMR, is quite revolutionary."

The Spinsolve product plugged into a computer and could provide a chemical reading on a sample within 30 seconds.

"We have a number of other companies who are trying to make something similar.

"But we are still producing, without any independent comparison necessary, the fastest, most sensitive, highest resolution bench-top NMR in the world."

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Magritek was founded in 2004, and the late Sir Paul Callaghan was a founding inventor for the company's technology.

Coy said Magritek had been doubling sales every 18 months or so.

"We export almost everything we sell.

"We've traditionally exported obviously a lot into Europe and the USA, but we're now selling products in Brazil, India, China."

The company would begin opening offices in the US as part of a five-year plan for growth.

Rangatira chief executive Ian Frame said the company first began talking to Magritek about four years ago.

"We recognise at that stage Magritek wasn't quite at the position it needed to be for Rangatira to invest, but we've stayed in close communication and now the company, we're delighted to say, with its new products has reached the stage."

Rangatira have been actively investing in companies valued between $10 million and $20m recently, which means the acquisition could be worth at least $2m.

Last month the investment firm bought 35 per cent of Paraparaumu-based craft beer brewery Tuatara, for a figure believed to be about $4m.

- The Dominion Post

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