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Innovators in the News

3/8/12 - Cerahelix lands $255K seed investment

Reprint from MHT Cerahelix, Inc., an Orono, Maine-based company developing a DNA-based way to produce advanced nanofiltration membranes for water re-use and recycling, has received $255,000 in funding from an offering of $750,000, according to documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Wednesday.

CEO Susan MacKay, who co-founded it with her husband Donald MacKay and University of Maine researcher Karl Bishop, told Mass High Tech Thursday that the seed money filed this week is the first of two rounds of investment, the second of which is expected in April. Cerahelix is a Phase 2 Small Business Innovation Research grant recipient, and the current round was filed this week to make a deadline to get matching grant.

According to this week’s filing, the money comes from 12 investors, two of whom do not qualify as accredited investors. MacKay said contributors include several angel investors, as well as the Small Enterprise Growth Fund and the Maine Technology Institute.

The funding comes a year after an April 2011 round of $10,000.

Cerahelix is developing a membrane filtration system that combines zeolite with DNA for applications such as purifying water in a biorefinery. The new membrane technology purifies products faster and uses less energy than traditional methods. The most common current method of water purifiction involves reverse osmosis, in which a great deal of power is needed to force water through a membrane. Cerahelix’s solution involves a patent-pending membrane technology, helix NFM, a ceramic nanofiltration membrane which uses a natural product DNA as a low-cost way to engineer the material.

The company does not focus on desalinization, but rather on industries, which use three times as much water worldwide as residential use.

The company spun out of Zeomatrix LLC, a nanostructural company focused on the use of paper in odor control, last year.

MacKay was named at a 2011 Woman to Watch by Mass High Tech. Cerahelix was also a finalist for the 2011 MassChallenge startup competition.

By Don Seiffert, Correspondent

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