AVAC Announces Clarity Capital To Back Saponin Inc.
(Calgary) - A new $1-million investment by Clarity Capital means SAPONIN Inc. is several steps closer to meeting global demand for the seeds derived from its Prairie Carnation™ crop. These seeds, harvested from a crop characterized by a striking pink flower, contain a host of plant-based compounds coveted by the world’s food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries, says Mark Carlson, president of Clarity Capital’s life sciences division.
Clarity Capital, with offices in Calgary (Canada), London (UK) and sub-Sahara Africa, has a team of 40 entrepreneurs and scientists who discover and develop new businesses. Having invested $2.2 million in SAPONIN Inc., Clarity is excited about the commercialization phase of the Prairie Carnation™ crop.
“We are attracted to the multiple novel bio-chemical compounds that are produced by this plant and impressed by the high caliber of scientific expertise that identified this particular plant and its potential to meet demand in an array of global markets,” notes Carlson.
“It is unique for a plant to offer so many bio-active compounds in a single source,” adds Bob Aubrey, president and CEO, SAPONIN Inc. Prairie Carnation™, or Saponaria vaccaria, is a newly-domesticated seed line of a plant native and adapted to North America. “Saponins are already used as emulsifiers and as foaming agents in the food industry. This particular species offers superior value to competing commercially-available extracts because of the high concentration of saponins prepared in a convenient powder form.”
Prairie Carnation™ seed features a micro-starch, the smallest granule starch known in the plant kingdom. This starch is highly valued by the cosmetic industry as a smooth, non-irritating ingredient. Additionally, Prairie Carnation™ seed contains a high concentration of immuno-stimulatory saponins that can be developed as vaccine adjuvants and are being tested as potential anti-cancer drugs.
In addition to Clarity’s investment, which includes administrative functions as well as strong business and strategic support for the early-stage bio-products company, SAPONIN Inc. attracted $822,000 from AVAC Ltd. for pre-commercial development, says Craig Urton, AVAC Investment Manager.
AVAC invests in early-stage technology businesses and commercially-relevant agricultural research that expands value-added industry in Alberta. SAPONIN Inc., with ties to the National Research Council’s Plant Biotechnology Institute, “has been careful to develop Prairie Carnation™ crop with the entire value-chain in mind. Consequently, we know this crop can be grown on the prairies, we know it can be harvested with conventional equipment, we know how it can be milled to extract specific bio-chemical compounds and we know those compounds are a good fit with several premium markets,” explains Urton.
AVAC’s investment, which will be repaid with revenues over time, “is definitely a vote of confidence in our product and our business plan,” says Aubrey. “AVAC’s support for our business plan will help us achieve key technical milestones that offer a compelling reason for new investment in the fall of 2008.”
With offices in Edmonton and Saskatoon, sales of SAPONIN’s unique micro-starch and saponins began in early 2008. The crop is grown under contract with producers and exclusive and semi-exclusive licensing arrangements for its bio-chemical compounds are being made on a product-by-product basis.
Mark Carlson, President
Clarity Life Sciences Ltd.
Bob Aubrey, President, CEO