Athenix Corp. has $12.5 million in new financing to help grow its business.

The biotechnology company, which disclosed two deals recently, is focused on development of bio-industrial products using genetic information. Athenix works with chemical and agricultural firms.

“We are delighted that our initial three venture capital partners participated again in this very successful second round of financing and that we were able to expand the funding syndicate with two additional venture capital partners,” said Mike Koziel, president and chief executive officer of Athenix, in a statement. “We are intensely focused on products. This additional funding will allow Athenix to rapidly transform our success in research and development into innovative products for our target markets.”

Intersouth Partners of Durham, a previous Athenix investor, participated in the B round. Intersouth was joined by Polaris Venture Partners and Boston Millennia Partners. Both firms are based in Massachusetts.

The three companies provided Athenix with $8 million in financing in 2001.

New investors include Hunt Ventures of Texas and Eastman Ventures, the venture capital part of Eastman Chemical Company in Tennessee.
Athenix uses genetic traits from microbes in order to enhance plants, microbes, enzymes and manufacturing processes. It is looking to develop insect resistance and herbicide tolerance as well as other improvements. Athenix is also working on transgenic plants and improvements in bioconversion processes.

The company recently formed a strategic collaboration with Eden Enterprise, a breeder and supplier of corn seed. The firms said they would bring newly developed traits from Athenix to the market in corn hybrids developed by Eden.

In addition, RTP-based Athenix will receive multi-year research funding and what was described as substantial downstream value share. Eden will market the co-developed corn hybrids using their established industry channels.

Athenix also struck a deal recently with Mertec LLC to explore enhancement of soybeans. Mertec is a breeder and supplier of soybean seed.

Athenix acquired the commercial license for what it described as “certain important enabling technologies: from Stine Biotechnology. Stine is a subsidiary of Midwest Oilseeds. Terms were not disclosed.

“We are very impressed with the rapid progress Athenix has made since it was founded in 2001,” said Christoph Westphal of Polaris Venture Partners, in a statement. “We have the utmost confidence in the opportunity, the management team and their business model.”
Added Rob Jevon of Boston Millennia Partners: “We continue to be impressed with Athenix’ progress in bringing its world class technology to market. We are very pleased about the corporate alliances that Athenix signed last year. They provide broad market access in key crops and validate the company’s business strategy.”

Mike Bierman of Hunt Ventures pointed out that Athenix is “poised to create tremendous value.”

Athenix, which was launched at Centennial Campus at North Carolina State University, moved into new corporate headquarters in RTP in May of 2002.