Thai Oil Plc (TOP), the oil refinery arm of PTT Group, has diversified into deep technology business by co-investing in Mineed Technology, a local healthcare startup, to produce microneedles which promise faster drug delivery and an alternative for patients with needle phobia.
Wirat Uanarumit, chief executive and president of TOP, said the investment will be jointly made through the company's wholly owned TOP Ventures and Bangkok Dusit Medical Services Plc, Thailand's largest health conglomerate.
Microneedles are tiny needles on patches which are stuck onto skin to deliver vaccines, medicines and therapeutic agents for medical and cosmetic purposes.
Mr Wirat declined to disclose the investment value, only saying that one purpose is to make large-scale commercial production of products based on microneedling technology.
Mineed Technology, a tech unit spun off by Chulalongkorn University in 2019, started small-scale production of microneedles for cosmetic purposes last year and has become an original equipment manufacturer supplying the products for local and overseas brands.
It uses water-soluble microneedle technology, which takes only two minutes for the needles to be released from the patches, compared with 2-6 hours for other similar products.
Microneedling ensures more precise therapeutic agent delivery than that made by cream or serum applied to the skin.
Mineed Technology carried out seed fundraising in December 2021, and received a positive response from the corporate sector.
TOP is among the companies interested in the business potential of Mineed.
Microneedling patches can be an alternative for hospital personnel to vaccinate people who are afraid of syringes, and help to avoid needlestick injuries.
Mr Wirat said TOP's investments in new businesses are aimed at generating 10% of its total revenue by 2030, with 80% coming from oil refineries and the petrochemical industry, and the remainder from power generation.
TOP is Thailand's largest oil refiner by capacity.