Sionex Detects $3.6 Million

With the lingering threat of bioterrorism lingering, perhaps venture capitalists feel safer now that they have brought a chemical detection company into the market place. New York-based Rho Ventures led a $3.6 million Series A round of financing for Sionex Corp, a Waltham, Mass.-based company that owns technology that could keep American safe from harmful chemicals.

Rho Ventures, which put $1.34 million into the deal, was joined by Navigator Technology Ventures (NTV), the venture arm of Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Inc. and Techfarm Ventures. The company received a post-money valuation of $9 million.

The capital infusion will be used for product development and to expand Sionex’s capabilities. First commercial products are due out by Q1 2003, says Lawrence Kaufman, CEO of Sionex.

Spun-out of Draper – a non-profit laboratory, that does research and development for the Department of Defense – Sionex was founded in May 2001.

Draper licensed its FAIMS (Filed Asymmetric Ion Mobility Spectrometry) technology to Sionex, and at the helm is Dr. Raanan Miller, who left Draper to serve as vice president of technology and chief technology officer of the new company.

Sionex’s FAIMS sensors will allow policemen, firemen, scientists or just civilians to detect both the presence and concentration of the suspicious gases. Sionex’s technology is the same as that used to detect chemical warfare agents and the air aboard NASA space stations.

The company is expecting to seek another round of financing at the beginning of next year, says Alain Hanover, managing director and CEO of NTV. Perhaps to build the company out, which currently has 15 employees.

As a result of the round Ruch, Jeffrey Grammer, managing director with Techfarm Ventures, and Hanover have joined the company’s board of directors.