A story of collaboration and passion

That started way back in the 80’s

More than two decades in industry have helped us build a high-level of expertise. Collaborating with international and local partners has given us an unparalleled track record of seamless communication and successful drug compounds for pre-clinical and clinical trials.

How it all began


A young Peter Tyler, Richard Furneaux, and Ian Miller (left to right) 

Our origins

GlycoSyn’s expertise in Carbohydrate Chemistry began in the 1980’s with Drs Richard Furneaux, Ian Miller and Peter Tyler exploring the chemistry of seaweed polysaccharides at the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), which was followed up by researching a new class of herbicides derived from levoglucosenone.


Formation of the Carbohydrate Research Team and the Schramm connection

The Carbohydrate Chemistry Team at Industrial Research Limited (IRL) was formed in 1992 when the DSIR was divided into Crown Research Institutes (CRIs).

In 1994 Richard and Peter met Professor Vern Schramm, a biologist from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Vern was having trouble finding a chemistry group to make a target nucleoside hydrolase inhibitor he had designed to treat a variety of immune disorders. The structure of the desired molecule was drawn on a bar napkin and borne back to New Zealand, where Peter proceeded to make the complex molecule in a monumental 21-step synthesis.

This compound would go on to be commercialized as the active ingredient in Mundesine. The long-standing collaboration with Schramm’s group continues to this day and has resulted in several new drugs in clinical and pre-clinical trials.

Picture of bar napkin where the nucleoside hydrolase inhibitor was first sketched


A picture of our cGMP manufacturing facility

GlycoSyn Established – cGMP manufacturing

At this point in time, the Carbohydrate Chemistry Team’s commercial client list had expanded considerably, being recognized as world leaders in carbohydrate and complex chemistry. It had grown its international scientific reputation and networks, which involved peer reviewed publication, patents, licensing activities, presentations at international symposia and key research collaborations (US, UK, Australia, Singapore)

A growing demand led to building a dedicated scale-up facility on site. GlycoSyn was established in 2003, as a business unit of IRL, out of a desire to offer clients the option to manufacture their active compounds at a scale and quality suitable for human clinical trials.


Joining Callaghan Innovation

In 2013, GlycoSyn and IRL became part of Callaghan Innovation (previously Callaghan Innovation Research Limited). GlycoSyn was established as a separate business unit to deliver chemistry development and GMP manufacturing services involving drug substances or Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs).

GlycoSyn is licenced by MedSafe, New Zealand’s regulatory body, under the same guidelines as the FDA, PIC/S PE 009-14 (Part II) (ICH Q7 equivalent).

In joining Callaghan Innovation, GlycoSyn has the in-house protein engineering, fermentation, bioprocessing and microbiology expertise offered by our Integrated Biotechnologies Team.

Callaghan Innovation’s Gracefield Innovation Quarter, where GlycoSyn’s facilities are located. 


Dr Paul Benjes (General Manager, GlycoSyn, left) and Dr. Richard Furneaux (former Director, Ferrier Research Institute, right)

Establishment of Joint Venture with the Ferrier Research Institute

In February 2014, Callaghan Innovation’s Carbohydrate Chemistry Group transferred to Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) and was established as the Ferrier Research Institute (FRI) with Dr. Richard Furneaux as its Director. The institute is named to honour the late Professor Robin Ferrier who pioneered carbohydrate chemistry in New Zealand and supervised the doctoral research of several of the group’s members during his tenure at the University.

Through a Joint Venture agreement with GlycoSyn (Callaghan Innovation), the Ferrier Research Institute’s Carbohydrate and Complex chemistry expertise remain an integral part of our value proposition. The Ferrier Research Institute’s staff scientists maintain a close relationship with GlycoSyn and many clients use the seamless discovery, process development and cGMP manufacturing services offered by the two groups.

Where it's going

Into the future…

Our legacy of leadership in carbohydrate and polymer chemistry has propelled us to continually invest in cutting-edge technologies that accelerate development, enhance quality, and boost productivity. With a highly skilled and dynamic workforce of scientists, we are excited to explore new horizons in innovation and introduce high-value processing ingredients to the market.

Our strategic alliances with the Ferrier Research Institute and Callaghan Innovation enable us to leverage the full potential of our resources, tapping into a rich science ecosystem that is primed to tackle the most complex challenges in biotech innovation. As we continue to drive progress in the rare disease space, we remain firmly committed to our mission of improving lives through chemistry.

Our Partners