A company which makes devices for detecting chemical leaks has floated on one of the Stock Exchange's junior markets.
Sedgefield-based Analytical Nano Technologies (ANT) has listed its shares for trading on the Plus market after raising £450,000 from private equity sources over the last three months.
The flotation on the Plus market, formerly Ofex, and junior in terms of regulatory requirements to the AIM, values the three-year-old Sunderland University spin-out company's equity at £1.8m.
The company's projected £600,000 first-year revenues are from Unilever, Procter and Gamble and bulk enzyme producers Novozymes and Genencor.
It expects sales to rise to £1.5m in 2008 and £3.5m the year after.
The consortium approached Professor Fred Rowell at Sunderland University four years ago with an offer of £250,000 to develop a device to detect the discharge of enzymes in production "bottlenecks" which could harm workers.
Prof Rowell developed a system that was a cheaper and instantaneous alternative to less timely laboratory-based tests the consortium members were already using in their factories.
Chief executive Joe Arend said the technology - which is being developed to detect dioxins and oestrogens used in the manufacture of the contraceptive pill - had a market potential of up to £30m within three to four years.
He said: "[The consortium members] have completed three years of exhaustive trials and have given it a positive sign-off.
"[The device] will be used by them as an alternative to the lab-based system over the next year or so, with the potential to later transfer it to their factories globally."
The cash raised from the flotation, along with several million pounds of alternative finance and grant money from One NorthEast and the Department for Trade and Industry, will be used to increase production at a facility "somewhere in the UK" and to further develop the technology.
Mr Arend said: "We are past the proof-of- concept stage with the other technologies and are in negotiations with pharmaceutical companies to develop the technologies. We would expect rival companies would then adopt them as industry standard."
ANT is about to sign an £850,000 agreement with the Singapore Economic Development Board to enable it to move into a nanotechnology cluster at Nanyang Technical University to develop its dioxin-testing devices.
Mr Arend said: "They have offered us human resources in the form of PhDs and post doctorate [students] and lab facilities as well as some [capital expenditure] on equipment in return for intellectual property that we develop over a two-year period.
"We also want to use it as a commercial base from which we will service India and China, a key market in the next five years.
"We expect the rapid process of industrialisation will lead to legislation from governments in those countries requiring the detection of dioxins leaking from manufacturing processes."
Newcastle-based accountants RMT restructured ANT's share capital and accounts prior to this week's listing.