Oxford Capital has led $10 million in funding for Oxitec, which provides technology to control insects. The funding was supported by existing shareholders the University of Oxford and East Hill Management, as well as a number of international private investors from South America, Europe and Asia.
Oxford Capital has led a US$10 million funding round for Oxitec, a pioneer in the control of insects that spread disease and damage crops. The oversubscribed fundraising was supported by existing shareholders, the University of Oxford and East Hill Management, as well as a number of international private investors from South America, Europe and Asia.
The investment follows the first approval of Oxitec’s novel technology for the control of dengue mosquitoes, which was granted in April by the Brazilian National Technical Commission for Biosecurity (CTNBio). The company intends to use the new funds to establish commercial production facilities to enable the roll out of dengue mosquito control programmes, initially in Brazil. The funding will also support local recruitment and training for the programmes, and allow Oxitec to expand its activities into additional countries impacted by dengue fever.
Oxitec’s pioneering technology produces a unique strain of the dengue mosquito (Aedes aegypti), which contains specific sterility and marker genes. To control dengue mosquito populations, Oxitec males are released to mate with wild females in the treated area. Male Aedes aegypti do not bite, and therefore do not spread the dengue virus. The resulting offspring inherit the additional genes and die before becoming adults. They also inherit the marker, which is visible under a specific wave length of light, allowing simple programme monitoring in the field.
A series of trials in Brazil, Malaysia and Grand Cayman have demonstrated the success of the company’s approach, with successive releases of Oxitec males significantly reducing the wild dengue mosquito population. Oxitec is currently conducting similar trials in Panama and plans to undertake approval-scale studies in the Florida Keys shortly.
Edward Mott, Managing Partner, Oxford Capital said:
“The incidence of dengue fever is growing all the time and it is now threatening populations across Central and Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and the Pacific Rim. It has also spread into the USA in Florida. Oxitec has made a huge step forward in securing approval for its dengue control technology in Brazil and is now poised for a full-scaled commercial roll-out. With the huge and growing global demand for dengue control, we believe the future is very bright for the business.”
Hadyn Parry, Chief Executive Officer, Oxitec said:
“This new investment marks a strategic milestone for Oxitec, as we begin the process of commercialising our unique approach to controlling dengue mosquitoes following our first approval in Brazil. The World Health Organisation estimates that almost half of the world’s population is now at risk from dengue, and with no specific treatment or vaccine available, effective techniques for controlling the mosquitoes that spread this potentially fatal virus are urgently needed. Oxitec’s mosquitoes represent a novel and safe approach to combating dengue, and we look forward to working with authorities around the world to make our technology available.”
About Oxford Capital (www.oxcp.com)
Founded in 1999 Oxford Capital is a specialist investment manager working on behalf of institutional and private investors.
The firm is a leading UK growth capital and infrastructure capital investor. It manages a range of investment strategies designed for institutions, family offices, and sophisticated private investors.
Oxford Capital has offices in the UK, Switzerland and Hong Kong. It manages an international network of partners and advisers to support the development of its portfolio companies.
About Oxitec (www.oxitec.com)
Oxitec is a pioneer in controlling insects that spread disease and damage crops. It was established in 2002 as a spin-out from the University of Oxford. Oxitec’s first products are for the control of Aedes aegypti, the mosquito species primarily responsible for transmitting dengue fever, and the Mediterranean fruit fly, one of the world’s most damaging agricultural pests.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito is the main vector of the dengue virus, which infects an estimated 390 million people per year worldwide. Infection can result in dengue fever, with a variety of symptoms, including nausea, acute pain and fever. In more serious cases it can develop into potentially fatal dengue haemorrhagic fever. The dengue mosquito lives in and around the home and is difficult to control. Conventional methods have proved unable to prevent the spread of the disease resulting in an estimated 30 fold increase in incidence globally in the last 50 years. Currently, there is no specific medication or vaccine available for dengue. The same mosquito Aedes aegypti is also a vector of yellow fever and chikungunya.