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Government backing for Optibrium leads to two Asia contracts

By Mike Scialom

Dr Matthew Segall, CEO of Optibrium, which is based at Blenheim House, Cambridge Innovation Park. Picture: Keith Heppell
Dr Matthew Segall, CEO of Optibrium, which is based at Blenheim House, Cambridge Innovation Park. Picture: Keith Heppell

Optibrium, the software company specialising in solutions for small molecule design, has signed contracts in China and Japan following a visit organised by the Department for International Trade (DIT).

The Cambridge Innovation Park-based company’s unique technology is used to help pharmaceutical companies quickly identify high-quality candidate drugs, reducing time and cost, while increasing the chance of success in clinical trials.

Following increased demand for its technology from countries in East Asia, DIT helped to cover Optibrium’s travel costs to visit the region and offered advice and guidance on East Asian business culture.

International trade advisers - ITAs - at DIT introduced Optibrium to contacts at the British Consulate in Shanghai and the British Embassy in Tokyo, where it held launch events “to build its profile in the region and develop relationships with local industry leaders”. One of the resulting contracts in the two countries is with a major Japanese chemical company listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Optibrium employs 22 people at its Cambridge head office and works with customers in 25 countries including the United States and Russia. The business is currently experiencing 20 per cent annual turnover growth: 80 per cent of revenue comes from international sales.

Optibrium team celebrates Innovate UK funding. Picture: Keith Heppell
Optibrium team celebrates Innovate UK funding. Picture: Keith Heppell

Nick Foster, head of commercial operations at Optibrium, said: “The East Asian pharmaceutical market is rapidly changing and there is growing demand for advanced technology like ours. This is partly because of major reforms to regulations including the China Food and Drug Aministration (CFDA) and also because of increased funding for drug discovery. Both of these factors have helped to drive greater innovation in the industry.

“Working with DIT helped us to tap into this demand. We were able to get advice from ITAs that specialise in the pharmaceutical sector and in Chinese and Japanese business culture, meaning that we felt confident working in those markets.

“The Tokyo and Shanghai launches represented a real turning point, and we expect these relationships will continue to lead to new business. We think every business should consider the international opportunities out there – if we can succeed internationally, others can too.”

Thinley Topden, head of region for DIT East of England, said: “The UK, particularly in and around Cambridge, is a world leader in pharmaceuticals and drug design software. Optibrium is an expert in drug discovery and wanted to expand its work in East Asia, so it’s fantastic to see the business now working with two new companies as a result of the launch events.”


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