AN Oxford University spin-out chemical company has opened a new laboratory facility and offices at Milton Park near Didcot.

Oxford Biotrans has been supported by over 20 years of research, led by Dr Luet Lok Wong at the Department of Chemistry.

Following a £2.5m investment, the company, which develops enzymatic process technologies yielding high-value chemical compounds, has moved to Milton Park and 12 staff now work at the headquarters.

The first product to be brought to market is Nootkatone, the scent and flavour of grapefruit.

This has a wide number of applications in the fragrance industry, with the potential to act as a natural insect repellent.

Oxford West and Abingdon MP Nicola Blackwood, chairwoman of the Commons All Party Science and Technology Select Committee attended the opening of the offices on Friday.

Dr Jason King, the company’s chief executive officer, said: "With a team that already includes ten skilled scientists based at our new site, we aim rapidly to develop and commercialise the novel processes for our first group of products targeting the flavour and fragrance market.

"The flexibility this research platform provides positions us favourably to continue the work carried on over the last 20 years by our founder, Professor Luet Wong, in the Department of Chemistry at Oxford University, and to grow the company to become a significant player in the industrial biotechnology landscape."

Dr Will Barton OBE, chairman of Oxford Biotrans, added: "The scale of the investment and capability at the new site, combined with the quality of the people we have been able to attract, is enabling the company to lead the way in pioneering, sustainable industrial biotechnology, developing smart, clean routes to existing and novel high-value chemical compounds.

"Oxford Biotrans’ novel process routes will impact markets ranging from natural ingredients to pharmaceutical and environmentally-friendly agrochemical and speciality chemicals sectors.

"We are immensely grateful to our investors for their continuing support on this exciting journey."