Academic spinouts are companies that are typically formed from research taking place at academic institutions and are sometimes launched and owned by the university. A means to turn research into products of commercial value, the biotech industry has witnessed quite a few spinouts develop from research projects over the years.
In the U.K. alone, the biotech and pharma spinout industry has acquired over £6.1 billion ($7.8 million) in investments over the past two decades, according to GovGrant’s University Spinouts Report 2021. University of Oxford was deemed to have the highest value of spinouts, and University of Dundee spinout Exscientia, which specializes in artificial intelligence (AI)-based drug discovery, became renowned as the most successful spinout in the U.K. in the past decade. Around the world, academic centers like Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the U.S., among many others, have been home to numerous biopharma spinouts.
Here are six biotech spinouts across the globe that have received funding over the past year for their various programs that are presently in development, that you should know about.
As petrochemical dyes contain harmful chemicals in addition to the industry using five trillion liters of water every year, University of Cambridge spin-out company Colorifix aims to tackle this problem.
With the goal to replace synthetic dyes, the company engineers microbes to produce natural dyes. The colors, which are typically created by an organism, be it plants, insects or microorganisms, are identified, and the genes responsible for pigmentation are discovered through DNA sequencing. Then, the organism is engineered to produce the specific pigment.
The company also ships its genetically engineered microbes so that other companies can create pigments through the process of fermentation. This is very similar to beer brewing, where the microbes proliferate with the help of a nutrient medium, and in this case, colorful dye is produced within just a few days. The dyes are then placed into dye machines that dye different kinds of fabrics without having to resort to using toxic chemicals.
As the U.K.-based spinout pushes towards sustainable development, Colorifix has collaborated with Swedish multinational fashion brand H&M to further develop its product, which is said to not only reduce water and chemical usage by 77% and 80% respectively, but also contribute to a substantial decline in ozone layer depletion.
Established in 2016, the company has amassed a total of $31.8 million in three rounds of funding, with the latest series B round led by H&M Group Ventures raising $22.7 million last year.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a progressive degenerative disease that occurs when the macula – which is at the center of the retina – becomes damaged with age. Overtime, it can culminate in vision loss. U.K.-based Complement Therapeutics aims to treat AMD by targeting the complement system.
The cascade is composed of plasma proteins that fight infections by inducing inflammatory responses. However, the dysregulation of these pathways can lead to diseases like AMD and hematological conditions. The startup’s current focus is on its lead candidate CTx001 for late-stage AMD, which is an AAV-based gene therapy in preclinical trials. CTx001 is set to begin clinical trials in 2024. Complement Therapeutics is also developing CTx002, CTx003 and CTx004 that target complement mediated renal diseases, FHR dysregulation and complement mediated neuroinflammation respectively.