BII and DTU Collaborate to Help BioTech Businesses


writer icon Kristine Hanson     ISB   |   Startups     🕐 20. Feb. 2020

BioInnovation Institute (BII) has entered a collaborative agreement with The Technical University of Denmark (DTU) to create a unique interdisciplinary environment focused on commercialisation which potentially can foster new business combinations.

From January, the first university projects from DTU will join BII for a three-year period.

An Essential Collaboration
To create the best conditions for potential spin-outs, BII and DTU have signed a framework agreement that covers all terms including licensing of IP to potential future spin-out businesses.

“The agreement is key for success of these projects in terms of attracting investors to fund potential spin-outs, so we are very pleased with the excellent collaboration we have established with DTU around these projects, and we hope more universities will follow as we will expand with more projects”, says CEO of BII, Jens Nielsen.

The first two projects are led by Morten Sommer and Jay Keasling, Professors and Scientific Directors at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability at DTU.
As Principal Investigators, they will each lead a team located at BII to work full time on the projects under the daily supervision of a co-Principal Investigator.

Each project will be granted DKK 6 million in 2020 and BII is committed to supporting the projects through to the end of 2022. DTU will be the recipient of the grant and hire the groups that will relocate to BII.

As Principal Investigators, Morten Sommer and Jay Keasling will be the first members of BII Faculty, which the institute will expand in the coming years.

BioTech and MedTech
Currently, BII is offering convertible loans of up to DKK 10 million to companies in the Creation House program which is dominated by pharma projects.

With the new collaborative agreement, BII will also be able to focus on creating spin-outs in MedTech and industrial biotech, such that the institute can ensure the development of solutions that address more of the societal challenges, such as sustainable food production and lower health care costs.

“In Creation House, we focus on companies that have the potential to attract investors after the 18 months-long program. Naturally, more pharma companies fill this program due to the investment landscape. Through the new collaborative agreement with DTU we will pursue earlier projects in industrial biotech and MedTech by engaging top-level scientists with entrepreneurial experience”, says Jens Nielsen, who expects to see several platform technologies amongst the projects.

Aditional DKK 73M for BII
The Novo Nordisk Foundation has granted BII an additional DKK 73 million in 2020 to fund 5-6 university projects in 2020 and to accept more businesses into the Creation House program, BII writes on their webpage.

BII will source the university projects and, besides fostering new companies, Jens Nielsen expects to see benefits from interdisciplinary collaborations and cross-fertilisations of methods and tools between the projects in all BII programs.

“By bringing top tier researchers to BII, we can create the synergy needed to innovate and also attract investors and industry to BII as they play a key role in getting the research to market”, says Jens Nielsen

To join a collaborative environment in connection to the university is also one of the benefits that Principal Investigator Morten Sommer points out. His project is on microbial cell therapies for modulating the gut-brain axis.

“To hire people with very strong industry background this early on to help mature the technology in a direction that has market potential is normally not feasible in the academic granting system. That is a great opportunity for us”, says Sommer.

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