Canterbury Scientific celebrates 30th anniversary
With sincere thanks to all our staff, colleagues and suppliers, Canterbury Scientific is proud to be celebrating 30 years of operation. Back in 1985, our first products were distributed from a Christchurch garage. Today our award winning biomedical company has 15 staff, and makes and exports quality controls for diagnostic tests for people with diabetes all around the world.
CEO Dr Neil Pattinson said “Canterbury Scientific has experienced steady growth due to the tremendous efforts of the team and the reputation for scientific quality of the products in the medical testing market.”
In 1978 Professor Robin Carrell said at a Christchurch dinner party that his work on the stabilisation of haemoglobin, the blood protein that transports oxygen and gives blood its red colour, had the potential to become a commercial business. His wife’s cousin Bryce Hawkins said “if you look after the science, I will look after the business.”
Initially Carrell and Hawkins formed a partnership, and Canterbury Scientific Ltd was formed in 1985, with Hawkins as its Managing Director. The company’s early products included a stable long lived control (HbA2) for the detection of a form of thalassemia. Carrell returned to the UK to become Professor of Haematology at the University of Cambridge in 1986 whilst remaining on the board until retiring in 2012.
In 1991, Dr Maurice Owen, now Canterbury Scientific’s Scientific Director, made a breakthrough by producing a new long lived and ethically made control for diabetes testing and monitoring (HbA1c). Earlier controls had been short lived and were produced from the blood of diabetics whose disease was poorly controlled. Owen found a way to make the diabetic level artificially.
Bayer was the first company contracted to purchase the HbA1c controls in 1997. Siemens purchased that Bayer division and are now one of Canterbury Scientific’s biggest customers.
Canterbury Scientific has a turnover of more than $6 million and its products are distributed around the world, with 22 languages on the instructions sheets. The company’s best seller is a ready-to-use liquid stable HbA1c control developed by Owen. It is sold to Roche and Beckman Coulter for use on their analytical devices.
Pattinson said the company is expanding into the Chinese market and aims to broaden its range of products. “We also aim to broaden the strength of medical science in New Zealand, and in Christchurch in particular.”
Canterbury Scientific has won several awards including the 2012 Champion Canterbury Awards, Global Operator and Supreme Award, the Health and Science category of the New Zealand Innovators Awards. The company was also a finalist in the 2013 and 2015 NZ International Business Awards.
The company is based at a state-of-the-art facility in Whiteleigh Avenue that was opened just four days before the Christchurch earthquake on February 22, 2011. They were fortunate to sustain no significant damage or injury.