ATRP Solutions, raising money and preparing product - Center for Technology Transfer and Enterprise Creation - Carnegie Mellon University

Friday, July 23, 2010

ATRP Solutions, raising money and preparing product

Based on technology developed at Carnegie Mellon University, ATRP Solutions Inc. is gearing up for commercialization of its first major product with a new CEO, a $1.2 million funding round and market testing with potential customers.

ATRP Solutions uses atom transfer radical polymerization, a complex process used to produce engineered polymers with specific qualities, to develop products.

The company’s first product, Advantomer, is a thickening agent used in personal care products and cosmetics such as lotion or shampoo, said CEO Randy Eager. The product is in the hands of potential customer companies, Eager said, so those end-users can see how it can be added as an ingredient to other products.

“The ATRP process itself has enabled us to build ingredients that have multiple features and, in this case, a molecule that can thicken and deliver small molecules like fragrance or UV inhibitors,” Eager said. “Thickeners today don’t do both.”

ATRP Solutions, which has five full-time employees, is still housed on CMU’s campus, but Eager expects the company to find its own space elsewhere in the area in 2011.

The company has strong ties to CMU: It’s based on a process developed by Krzysztof Matyjaszewski, a professor at the university whose work landed him on many short lists for the Nobel Prize in chemistry, and students coming out of Matyjaszewski’s program are experts in the process.

Eager started full-time in March after working with co-founder and President Patrick McCarthy as an executive in residence at Innovation Works, a nonprofit that supports Pittsburgh start-up companies.

While an executive in residence, Eager helped the company start its latest funding round, which includes $65,000 from Innovation Works as well as other investors. According to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company has raised $375,000 since April toward its goal of $1.2 million. The firm is generating revenue but is not yet making a profit.

Eager joined the company based on the huge potential he saw for the ATRP process as a platform technology.

“You can choose any vertical industry where speciality polymers are involved, and (ATRP) products perform better than what is in existence today,” Eager said. “It enables new product categories to be invented. It’s all very exciting.”

The novelty of the technology also drew investor Sean Sebastian, who, as a result, is on the company’s board. Sebastian is a partner with Birchemere Ventures but invested in ATRP Solutions as an individual.

“I am particularly interested in companies that are platform technology that have high intellectual property barriers,” he said.

“These guys really are the best at what they do. Any number of customers and a whole host of industries can provide a performance spec, and they can provide a unique way to address the market.”

Several large, multinational companies are testing the product and any one of those companies could produce significant growth if ATRP Solutions’ product is added to a formula, said Rich Lunak, president and CEO of Innovation Works. Lunak’s organization has invested a total of $265,000.

Article Courtesy of Pittsburgh Business Times

Image Courtesy of Pittsburgh Business Times