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Antaria to join forces with global giant

PERTH technology firm Antaria expects a licensing agreement with global pharmaceutical firm Merck will see its products make an impact on the international market.

Formerly known as Advanced Nanotechnology, Antaria develops metal oxide-based products at its Bentley laboratory, which are used in cosmetics and also have industrial applications in the automotive industry.

The licensing agreement allows the Germany-based Merck to firstly distribute, then eventually manufacture Antaria's cosmetics product Alusion, and also AlPearl, which is used in automotive paints.

Merck will pay two instalments of 1.3 million euros ($A2.3 million) over the first year of the licence, and will pay additional ongoing royalty fees for access to the technology.

"There's a longer-term benefit, if Merck are successful with the products," Antaria executive chairman Bruce Cameron told WA Business News.

"They can grow Alusion, we get a benefit from a royalty stream, and if they develop new products we also benefit from a royalty stream."

Mr Cameron joined Antaria as a non-executive director in 2006, and was elected as executive chairman in April 2008, shortly before the company changed its name.

Originating from the University of Western Australia's materials science research department, the company listed on the stockmarket in 2005 but struggled to build revenue and profits.

As executive chairman, Mr Cameron said he wanted to bring a fresh perspective to the business, foster growth and deliver value to shareholders, and the only way to do this was to change the culture of the company.

"If you do things too slowly in this game, you don't actually get out into the marketplace, you're too slow for the market," he said.

"It really meant saying 'hey stop working on some things that are interesting and have potential longer-term, put all our resources into a narrow focused area to make sure we achieve what we need to achieve in the time that we've got'."

"You have to eventually get your product into a position where people say 'yes, this is of interest to us,' and you've really got to find something that's unique.

"I mean if you're just making a copy of someone else's then you're suddenly being driven into a price war."

Over the past three months Antaria has experienced a boost to its share price, almost doubling in value from 3 cents to 6 cents after sustained falls since 2007.

Mr Cameron said the Merck agreement would allow Antaria to refocus its resources to develop its other products, such as Zinclear IM, which is a primary ingredient in sunscreens and other skincare products.

"We're poised at the moment where we believe we're ready to actually work through our facility and increase our capacity, so the money is going to be quite useful in terms of that," Mr Cameron said.

"All we have to do is focus on making the existing product for them for a couple of years until they're ready to make it themselves.

"It really helps us narrow down, even more, to be able to focus on the Zinclear IM, and it also then allows us, if we've got some spare capacity in our resources, we can actually now focus on ... other opportunities that are on the backburner."

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