Precision Chroma founder and CEO Sean Feast is looking to revolutionise the biotech industry with his 3D-printed chromatology columns.
The huge advantage of this technology is that it reduces the number of manufacturing steps for producing biological pharmaceuticals, such as proteins like insulin for diabetes and gene therapies to treat genetic diseases like muscular dystrophy. This reduction in processing steps will make them cheaper to manufacture, faster to develop and more accessible.
We talk to Sean about his career path and why Christchurch is the ideal place to grow his business.
What was your pathway to developing Precision Chroma?
“Precision Chroma’s technology was the brainchild of my biochemical and biomolecular engineering tutor Conan Fee at UC (The University of Canterbury). He was initially my lecturer during my undergraduate degree where he taught me about the amazing technology in the bio- separations field. Then, through my PhD and post-doctoral research, I’ve helped develop the technology through to point of commercialisation. Conan remains a huge support as a consultant to the company and helps out when needed.
Precision Chroma is enabled by both investors and tertiary as a partnership. Bridgewest Ventures puts in the financial investment and UC puts in the intellectual property and related technology”.
“People always ask me “Why stay in Christchurch” which I think is a really easy question to answer. Christchurch has everything you want in a city”.
Sean Feast - Precision Chroma
People always ask me “Why stay in Christchurch” which I think is a really easy question to answer. Christchurch has everything you want in a city”.
Why is Precision Chroma staying in Christchurch?
“There is so much in Christchurch, from the recreational to the business side. UC is such a great university and has been instrumental in helping Precision Chroma get to where it is now. They provide office space, research equipment and the technical help to develop the business in getting to our first marketable product. And we are just one project amongst many others on campus.
“Also, the talent is already here. We’ve hired two researchers both who were UC students deciding to stay in Christchurch to grow with the research and development of Precision Chroma and they are filling the roles we need to help produce the technology within the business space”.
How does the Christchurch ecosystem support you?
“The Christchurch business community is so receptive. There are industry meets where sharing ideas really helps with process and you hear about all the amazing stuff going on — a lot of people are really surprised by how established the tech community is in Canterbury.
“I’m an engineer by trade so I don’t have a business background and have had to lean on others to learn management style. There is plenty of space for collaboration and through building up my network, I’m constantly learning and growing, which adds so much more value to the product.
“Christchurch is really fortunate to have a number of different startups. We regularly meet to discuss challenges, struggles and what’s going well so it provides a really great support network, especially for us being such a new company. Zincovery and Swallowing Technologies have provided some really good insight into the early days of being a startup. And it’s just going to get stronger. Christchurch’s tech industry is gaining international recognition from venture capital companies like Bridgewest who are looking to invest into the city and create a centre of excellence for the biotech community”.
What’s next for Precision Chroma?
“It’s going to be an incredibly busy next 12 months. We are currently focused on scaling up our processes and testing our products with companies like BioCina in Australia to prove that we can move to the commercial scale of production. By the end of 2022 is the aim. We are based at the UC campus but will need to move to our own premises in the next 12 months or so, but we are definitely staying in Christchurch and plan to use talent coming up through the university. We have everything we need right here to get Precision Chroma’s technology out into the market”.