The rising fortunes of biotech company PYC Therapeutics have bolstered the wealth of its major shareholders, most notably chairman Alan Tribe.
Established as a spin-out from the Telethon Kids Institute, the Nedlands-based company languished for many years under its previous name, Phylogica.
Mr Tribe brought experience in very different industries when he joined PYC.
An accountant by trade, he came to prominence as executive chairman of Fremantle-based marine technology company Nautronix.
That business was sold in 2002 for $42 million and now forms part of global defence contractor L3 Harris.
Mr Tribe had even more success with his venture into retailing, as the owner of the IKEA franchises in Perth and Adelaide.
He and other investors reaped about $310 million when they sold the stores and associated properties in 2017.
The 72-year-old Mr Tribe is now focused on PYC.
The stock was trading around 3 cents per share when he joined the board in April 2018.
It’s now trading around 15 cents per share, valuing the company at close to $500 million.
That’s a rarity for Perth, which has been home to many biotech startups but very few that have grown to have substantial market value.
PYC’s share price has lifted on the back of growing optimism about its portfolio of drug technologies and the commercial revenue opportunities that may flow from that.
The backing of a big investor such as Mr Tribe has also helped.
Since joining the board he has invested $33 million in PYC stock, lifting his stake to about 30 per cent.
That included participating in a recent $55 million rights issue, giving PYC a deep pool of money to invest in drug development.
Another big investor in the company is retired cardiologist Bernard Hockings, who has been a shareholder since 2012 and a director since 2014.
The father of chief executive, Rohan, Dr Hockings’ holding in the company is worth $41 million, having sold about $14 million of PYC shares during the past two years.
PYC boosted its management team earlier this year when it recruited Murdoch University’s Sue Fletcher as chief of research and development.
Her past achievements include jointly developing a novel therapy for the childhood disorder Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy,
That treatment was one of just a few drugs developed in Australia to gain approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
It has since been commercialised by US company Sarepta Therapeutics.