A FIRST step has been taken by York-based Avacta in conquering the US market.

The AIMS-listed provider of analytical and diagnostic technologies and services to the pharmaceutical and animal healthcare sectors has seen the first fruits of its sales and marketing partnership with the $2.4 billion turnover Pall Corporation for Optim in North America.

Pall has announced its first sale of Avacta’s Optim to one of the ten largest pharmaceutical companies in the US.

Optim is a benchtop device which uses quick, laser-based analysis to select compounds of any new drug which are more likely to succeed.

That early-stage analysis lops possibly millions of dollars off research bills, because it delivers this vital information tens of times faster and uses sample sizes less than a hundredth of those needed by existing techniques.

The sale is likely to open the floodgates of demand for Optim in the US as Pall’s sales and support teams get into full swing.

Analyst Tim Freeborn, of XCAP Securities, has forecasted the sale of as many as 15 Optims by next month, rising to 50 by next year – substantially boosting Avacta’s income. He also foresees £11 million-worth of sales for the Optim device in the US by July 2013.

Professor Alastair Smith, chief executive of the Avacta Group, said: “The US is the major market for Optim and I am delighted with the energetic and proactive start that Pall has made as our commercial partner in North America.

“The urgency with which the Pall team has undertaken sales and support training, the successful delivery of marketing events that have had a positive impact on the number of sales leads and the closing of the first sale following a trial of the instrument by the customer, is very encouraging.

“Today’s order means we have already met the target of 12 Optim sales in the current year.

“I look forward to reporting on further sales in due course and on the wider development of the commercial relationship with Pall.”

Avacta, based in the Biocentre at York’s Science Park, also recently announced it had signed a breakthrough agreement to sell Optim into the combined billion-dollar market of mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

In anticipation of the growing demand, it launched new manufacturing premises in Thorp Arch, near Wetherby.

The group, which employs 50 people, announced last July that its turnover was £2.1 million, compared with £900,000 the previous year.