Sona Nanotech, a Halifax company that produces gold nanorods, has brought on board a new CEO from Great Britain and is preparing for a stock market listing within a few months.
In a statement in September that attracted little notice, the company said it had agreed to merge with publicly listed Stockport Exploration and raise about $700,000 in a private placement. The company is also bolstering its executive team by appointing Darren Rowles, an executive with extensive experience in nanotechnologies, to be its CEO.
“We’ve got huge plans for Sona but we’re going to have to take it one step at a time,” said Rowles in an interview Monday from Cardiff.
“The next two to three years is our main focus right now and we want to build a sustainable company.”
Sona was formed by the St. F.X. University team of Gerrard Marangoni, Michael McAlduff and Kulbir Singh to commercialize their research in nanotechnology, which includes health-care applications such as cancer treatment. The founders discovered a way to produce gold nanoparticles free of a toxic substance called cetrimonium bromide, or CTAB.
The rod-shaped nanoparticles are known to have uses in several tasks associated with medicine, such as diagnostics, but traditional methods of making the microscopic particle create toxic substances in the process. The company’s founders believe absence of the toxic substance makes Sona’s nanoparticles ideal for a range of medical applications.
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The company officers are saying little about the listing, which is now going through the regulatory process, other than to say they hope it’s completed in the first quarter.
The statement in September said that Halifax-based Stockport Exploration, which had been involved in mining ventures, would swap shares with Sona to effectively merge the two companies. After the transaction is completed, the merged company will be called Sona Nanotech and be involved exclusively in the development of the nanoparticles.
Concurrent with the transaction, the merged company is issuing stock through a private placement, which it says will raise $700,000. Stockport president and CEO James Megann is also a shareholder in Sona.
To grow the business, the company has brought in Rowles, who has 14 years with the Welsh medical devices company BBI Solutions, where he gained extensive experience in nanoparticle technologies.
Rowles said in the interview that the team behind Sona knew it had a commercially viable product, but needed a better plan to reach the market and sufficient capital to execute the plan. So it opted to merge with Stockport to gain the company’s financial assets and listing, and grow the business.
“I’ve been brought in because the business as it was wasn’t really doing anything,” said Rowles. “It was not generating significant revenue . . . and since I got involved, we’ve adopted a new business plan and are moving forward on it.”
Sona, which now has three full-time employees, is gaining steam and hopes to hire four to five people this year. A new vice-president of business development is expected to join the company in the next few weeks.
Sona is now going to market with the original product that Marangoni, MacAlduff and Singh developed several years ago, a diagnostic product that Sona now calls Gemini. Meanwhile, the R&D team has produced a second product called Omni, which Rowles said is “more bio-friendly” and will be pushed toward medical applications.