Laam raises $5 million; board welcomes German grocer

Staff WriterJune 10, 2009 

LaamScience raised about $5 million from wealthy individuals to continue developing its first products, including surgical masks that can kill viruses on contact.

"We are making steady progress toward introducing one or more products soon," said Christopher Price, CEO of the small Raleigh company. "We have emerged from the pure research stage."

The angel investors, or wealthy individuals, who provided the company's funding include billionaire Eugen Viehof, founder of the German supermarket chain Allkauf. Viehof also has joined the board of directors.

LaamScience's ability to raise money in the face of the recession is a testament to the company's technology and its development under Price, said Tom Roberg, the company's executive chairman.

Roberg said investors valued the privately owned company at about double what it was worth when it last raised money; investors valued the company at $13.8 million, not including the $5 million in new capital.

LaamScience previously raised $2.5 million in financing.

Besides surgical masks, the most advanced product in LaamScience's development pipeline is a reusable kitchen cloth that can kill bacteria. Both products use a coating, based on technology licensed from N.C. State University, that can kill viruses and bacteria when exposed to light.

The company, founded in 2006, has five full-time employees and could add three by the end of the year, plus some part-time workers, Price said.

The company last fall asked the Food and Drug Administration to approve its surgical masks as protection against bacteria and viruses, including swine flu. The process is taking longer than expected.

"There is no point in amplifying on that," Price said. "Medical products always take longer than you like."

The company also is seeking regulatory approval for the masks in Europe and Canada, Price said.

david.ranii@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4877

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