A UNIVERSITY spin-off company, whose scientists have developed tiny tools to examine the nature of matter, is competing tomorrow for a £2,000 award.

Paraytec Ltd is one of five shortlisted bio-firms that are presenting their research and commercial potential at the two-day White Rose Bioscience Forum, held at the Central Science Laboratory, in Sand Hutton, near York.

The firm, founded by University of York chemistry scientists, could shake up the $25.4 billion global scientific instrument market.

It has developed highly accurate miniature ultra-violet light (UV) absorbence detectors for use in laboratories.

The technology is one of the most widely used techniques to etsablish the nature of matter, with different wavelengths of UV light indicating different compounds.

The instruments use capillaries the width of a human hair to carry samples through a UV light beam, then capture and process the images using a pixel sensor similar to technology used in digital cameras and mobile phones.

The White Rose Bioscience Forum is part of a technology showcase run by Connect Yorkshire, the organisation that primes technology companies for growth.

Carolyn Parkinson, chief executive of Paraytec, said: "Our technology has the potential to completely transform UV absorbence detection."

She added: "We are currently establishing direct sales and distributor networks for our first products which were launched in July, as well as aiming to establish collaborative development with other commercial partners."

In August, Andrew Burton, managing director of the Viking Fund, revealed his organisation and private investors were behind a £170,000 grant for marketing Paraytec's product.

The cash allowed its devisers, including York scientists Professor David Goodall and Dr Ed Bergstrm, to sell the products more widely.

Paraytec's only North Yorkshire rival at the presentation is Nature's Laboratory, of Whitby, which has gone back to nature to find medical solutions to bacterial resistance.

It works with propolis, a complex chemical which is collected from plants by bees and has antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties.

James Fearnley, managing director of Nature's Laboratory, said clinical trials had been undertaken to see if propolis could be used to treat some skin diseases and respiratory problems.

It is also being tested for ways in which it can combat immune deficiency diseases, like HIV/AIDS, as well as Alzheimer's disease.