Magritek looking to be less lonely


I had the pleasure of catching up with Magritek last week when it announced a new cornerstone shareholder in Wellington-based private equity investor Rangatira.

It is an opportunity for Magritek to up its sales and marketing effort around its relatively new ‘SpinsolveNMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) spectrometer. This is a compact machine about the size of a desk photocopier, and opens up a new market for Magritek.

Its previous ‘figuring out what’s inside a sample’ machines were more aimed at the mining and petroleum industries as well as education, but the Spinsolve means they can target, in particular, the food industry. A sample is simply put in a standard 5mm NMR tube and a virtually instantaneous graph readout obtained.

Verifying and proving what is in particular food samples, quickly, is seen as a valuable market well worth pursuing.

The US$50,000-$100,000 Spinsolve, uses technology and intellectual property Magritek says none of its competitors’ can match, and price-wise sits in the middle of the very expensive NMR whole body machines seen in hospital and small, cheap and cheerful (if not very accurate other machines).

Among some of the observations made by Magritek was that it would love to have some other high-tech company in Wellington. It’s lonely being a sole participant in this space, and as managing director Andrew Coy says, having others with which war stories, R&D efforts and other combined operations can be shared would be extremely useful.

The (undeclared sum) investment by Rangatira, which can be increased to 18% in a year’s time, also sees it slightly changing its focus. Magritek first approached it three or four years ago, but it is only now that a stakeholding has been deemed opportune.

Till now Rangatira, shareholders in companies such as Hellers, Polynesian Spa and Rainbow’s End (among many) has had an internal NZ focus.

Over 98% of Magritek’s production is exported, so Rangatira finds itself in a different space, with a different mindset required.

Hopefully the capital injection by Rangitira enables Magritek to ramp up sales, and at the very least continues its 18 month doubling of turnover since it began in 2004.

Magritek’s an employer of choice for physicists and other specialists (over a third of its staff have PhD’s), and an important end-point for high-end manufacturing.

The better it does through setting an example of selling well-differentiated, high-margin NMR products, the more likely we are to see others join its ranks.

It has the potential to act as a magnet for other hardware-based businesses, and then the chance to be slightly less lonely in its tech environment.

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About sticknz

sticK is by Peter Kerr, a writer for hire. I have a broad science and technology background and interest, with an original degree in agricultural science. My writing speciality is making the complex understandable. I am available for outside consultancy work, and for general discussions of converting a good idea into something positive
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