For life sciences researchers-turned-entrepreneurs, curing cancer requires patience and a lot of capital
For life sciences researchers-turned-entrepreneurs, curing cancer requires patience and a lot of capital

Undertaking research in the life sciences can be complex and extremely expensive, but the potential upside – both financially and for society – is huge. For that reason, BioInnovation Institute is helping researchers become entrepreneurs.

Undertaking research in the life sciences can be complex and extremely expensive, but the potential upside – both financially and for society – is huge. For that reason, BioInnovation Institute is helping researchers become entrepreneurs.

It’s a common refrain among successful startups that your idea isn’t worth anything until it is executed. But when you’re leading a startup in the life sciences – inventing medical equipment, making blood testing more efficient, or working to cure cancer – this adage takes on a whole new dimension. Although these ventures require the right team and proper execution, their success revolves around their hypotheses, research, and ability to demonstrate feasibility. Such activities typically take up to a decade to mature from initial research to a marketable product that can start repaying research investors.

Bearing that in mind, BioInnovation Institute (BII) was established – with 392 million DKK of seed funding from the Novo Nordisk Foundation – to help researchers working in pharma, biotech, and med tech to commercialize their findings. Since opening its doors in 2018, it has granted 100 million DKK to 42 life sciences projects, and expects to award another 50 million DKK by the end of 2019.

According to Jens Nielsen, CEO at BII: “There’s already a lot of groundbreaking research being done in Danish universities. This creates a huge demand for supporting skilled researchers who want to take their research out of the lab and to the market. By supporting those projects with early-stage funding, know-how, and networking, we expect to see more research translated into new products and drugs that promote health and benefit the public and broader society.” 

In more detail, the institute supports early-stage research projects and startups. And the most promising startups gain access to their incubator – 2300 square meters of office facilities with a state-of-the-art lab – and a 10 million kroner convertible loan. 

The arduous journey to curing cancer

To be sure, commercialization is a dramatic departure from academia. But the groundbreaking research occurring in universities needs to be commercialized for patients and society to reap its benefits. One of the startups trying to make this transition is ADCendo.

The company is developing a drug based on antibody drug conjugates (ADCs), which have shown promise in curing cancer. Adcendo’s drug targets a specific protein that is significantly over-expressed in certain types of cancers. Essentially, it brings a payload into the cancer cells that is powerful enough to kill them. In a recently published journal article, they demonstrated a 100 per cent cure rate in their mouse model among those mice that were treated with their first drug candidate. 

According to Henrik Stage, co-founder and CEO of ADCendo: “It all started with 3 researchers from the Finsen Laboratory at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, who had longstanding basic research in the mechanisms involved in cancerous invasion. In 2017, following the publication of their remarkable 100 per cent cure rate of mice, I joined the team and ADCendo was born.”

In the two years that have followed, licensing agreements have been negotiated with the University of Copenhagen to commercialize the findings. The young company has been accepted into BII, where they have received financial support. But there is still a long way to market when what you do is – quite literally – trying to cure cancer. 

In Stage’s words: “Being accepted into the BII program and receiving 1.4 million euros worth of funding has been an important step towards maturing the company and preparing for the additional investments needed from investors and partners. This will enable us to fulfil our ambitions of bringing our novel ADC drug to market for treatment of patients with an unmet medical need.”

Startups that can make an impact require a lot of support

The BII aims to play a facilitating role for life sciences entrepreneurs through funding, business development, infrastructure, and a strong network of international partners and investors. After all, these new, groundbreaking companies need a lot of support in the early, high-risk stage.

In Nielsen’s words: “Startups in the life sciences play a huge role in solving the challenges we’re facing – both as individuals and as a community. The pharma and med tech industry invest billions in health every year, while biotech plays a significant role in solving climate change. In both these areas we see companies join forces with the tech industry to gain new perspectives, which results in better solutions.”

Jens Nielsen, CEO at BII

About BioInnovation Institute

BioInnovation Institute is an international initiative for research-based innovation and entrepreneurship, which embraces every phase of life sciences startups. Located in Copenhagen, BII offers startups within med tech, biotech, and pharma 2300 square meters of state-of-the-art lab and office facilities, business acceleration programs, startup business incubation, commercial support, unique funding opportunities, and access to high-level mentoring and international networks.

FLERE FRA COMMUNITY
Mest læste
This site is registered on wpml.org as a development site.