A year of successes and changes at Munich’s biotech hub

Financings, strategic partnerships and personnel changes mark a dynamic second half of the year for the IZB

IZB Außenansicht

Martinsried near Munich, February 19, 2024 – The Innovation and Start-up Center for Biotechnology (IZB), one of the leading biotechnology centers in Europe with over 40 resident biotech start-ups, today provided a positive overview of the second half of 2023.

“We are thrilled to see the progress made by the start-ups at the IZB over the course of the past year. The numerous financings and landmark partnerships with leading global players speak for the excellent quality of their scientific research and their innovative strength,” said Dr. Peter Hanns Zobel, Managing Director of the Innovation and Start-Up Center for Biotechnology. “I am delighted with the positive developments here, especially considering that I will be leaving this vibrant campus in March, after 28 years as Managing Director of the IZB. I am convinced that the IZB will continue to flourish.”

Financings and deals of IZB start-ups
In August, Bind-X, an industrial biotech company, closed a €10 million Series B financing round with notable investors from Germany and abroad. The funding will support Bind-X’s expansion, focusing on solutions for alternative weed control, biological dust suppression in mining, and reducing bitumen use in road construction to drive decarbonization and biologization in established industries.

IZB alumnus adivo announced in early autumn that it would become part of Zoetis, a leading global animal health company. The transaction aims at making the benefits of species-specific antibody therapies available to pet owners worldwide. The two companies have been collaborating since 2021 on antibody discovery in both canine and feline species. adivo will serve as one of Zoetis’ innovation hubs for antibody drug discovery.

In September, clinical-stage Atriva Therapeutics entered into an exclusive letter of agreement with Canada’s Biocure Technology, Inc. for a reverse takeover transaction. Upon successful completion, the resulting company will continue the business of Atriva. This strategic move reinforces Atriva’s commitment to the fight against serious RNA virus infections through innovative host cell targeting therapies.

EpiQMax, a specialist in proteomic analysis and epigenetics, was acquired by MoleQlar, a Berlin-based longevity company specializing in the development and distribution of science-based longevity products including nutritional supplements and health tests, in November. The strategic acquisition will enable MoleQlar to further enhance its analytics and product development capabilities in the field of longevity by integrating EpiQMAx’s proteomic analysis technologies. As part of the acquisition, EpiQMax moved out of the IZB.

Following the strategic partnership with Bristol Myers Squibb announced in May, ADC company Tubulis entered into a licensing agreement with Oncoteq AG, a Swiss clinical stage biotech company specializing in novel and innovative cancer treatments, in late November. Under the terms of the deal, the IZB start-up has granted Oncoteq exclusive global development rights to an IND-ready antibody drug conjugate (ADC) for the treatment of patients with CD30-positive lymphomas, including, but not limited to, T-cell and Hodgkin’s lymphomas. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Moving in on campus
In December, the newly founded Novogene GmbH moved into the IZB, where it operates a genomics laboratory. The company is a subsidiary of Novogene, a world-leading provider of NGS services and solutions. In addition to an already established laboratory in the UK, the new facility in Germany builds on Novogene’s global localisation strategy.

Developments and innovative research originating from the IZB
Based on positive pivotal data, 4SC AG, an IZB alumnus committed to improving the lives of patients with advanced-stage cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) patients, has received Orphan Drug Designation (ODD) from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for resminostat, an orally administered histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor. ODD provides privileged status to drugs that show promise for the treatment of rare diseases in the European Union. Notably, the U.S. FDA had previously also granted ODD to this compound.

In November, SciRhom GmbH, a pioneering biotech enterprise specialized in developing first-in-class therapeutic antibodies, submitted the clinical trial application (CTA) for their lead candidate, an antibody designed to target a master switch for various autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

A year of (announced) personnel changes
In the second half of the year, several important personnel changes were made at the IZB. In September, Dr. Peter Hanns Zobel announced his resignation as Managing Director of the IZB effective March 2024. Throughout his 28-year tenure, Dr. Peter Hanns Zobel has significantly shaped the IZB, transforming the center from its inception in 1995 into an impressive 26,000 square meter hub for biotech start-ups in Martinsried and Weihenstephan. The pre-school “Bio Kids”, the hotel “Campus at Home”, the restaurant “Seven and More” as well as the food lounge “The Bowl” and the Faculty Club G2B have made the location interesting for start-ups and all Campus Martinsried neighbours. He expressed his admiration for the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation of the IZB start-ups and highlighted the collaborative efforts that have created a thriving environment for entrepreneurs in the state of Bavaria.

In another passing of the torch event, Susanne Simon, Head of Press and Public Relations, handed over the reins to her successor, Marion Köhler. Over the past 10 years, Susanne Simon has been a driving force in the development of the IZB and has played a decisive role in shaping its public image.

There were also personnel changes at the IZB start-ups. In December, Thermosome announced the appointment of clinical oncology professional Dr. Frank Hermann, MD, as Chief Medical Officer (CMO). In September, the company had already announced the formation of a Clinical Advisory Board to support the advancement of its lead compound THE001 through clinical development. The board consists of leading international cancer specialists in the fields of soft tissue sarcoma and bladder cancer.

IZB Events
The IZB opened its doors to a number of events and delegations in the second half of the year. The Peutinger-Collegium visited the IZB with 70 attendees. In a presentation by Dr Patrick Grossmann, CEO and co-founder of Invitris GmbH, the guests learned how the start-up aims to combat antibiotic-resistant infections with synthetic viruses (bacteriophages). They were also given an overview of the development of the campus by the IZB’ managing director. The Bavarian Student Union was introduced to the IZB campus as part of a trainee day.

The IZB Business Reception in September was once again a resounding success, offering participants the opportunity for cross-industry networking and collaboration. Almost 100 guests from business, science, politics and society attended the event. Dr. Peter Hanns Zobel, Managing Director of the IZB, presented the latest developments at the biotech center. Former Federal Minister of Finance and renowned political expert Dr. Theo Waigel gave an entertaining keynote speech entitled “Politics in Uncertain Times”, explaining how Germany can regain its competitiveness in the international economic landscape.

In October, the Finance Day was a joyful occasion as Going Public AG celebrated a quarter-century of publishing in the biotech sector. Over 100 experts gathered for insightful presentations, lively discussions, birthday cake and cocktails. The discussions centred around driving innovation, refining clinical technologies, and exploring financing strategies and optimal paths for public offerings. The M&A market and key business site factors were also explored, making the Finance Day a comprehensive exploration of the evolving biotech landscape.

At the beginning of November, the IZB together with BioM Biotech Cluster Development GmbH presented the flourishing biotech ecosystem in Martinsried and Weihenstephan to biopharma experts from all over the world as part of BIO-Europe 2023, Europe’s largest biopharma partnering conference.

Also in November, top researchers from the Martinsried campus met at the Faculty Club G2B (Gateway to Biotech) as part of the IZBrunch. Dr Andrea Schmidts, Emmy Noether Group Leader, TranslaTUM & Medicine III – Haematology/Oncology at the Technical University of Munich, spoke about “New approaches to combat resistance to CAR-T cell therapies”.

About the Innovation and Start-up Center for Biotechnology (IZB) in Martinsried near Munich
The Fördergesellschaft IZB mbH, founded in 1995, operates the Innovation and Start-up Centers for Biotechnology in Planegg-Martinsried and Freising-Weihenstephan and has developed into a leading biotechnology center. Currently, 26,000 m2 is home to more than 40 biotech companies and five life science companies employing more than 700 people. Here, work is being done on developing drugs for the most serious diseases, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, and various autoimmune diseases. A key criterion for the success of the IZBs is the physical proximity to cutting-edge research on the Martinsried/Grosshadern campus and the Weihenstephan campus. The infrastructure measures such as the Faculty Club G2B (Gateway to Biotech), the IZB Residence CAMPUS AT HOME, the two kindergartens Bio Kids and Bio Kids2 as well as the two restaurants SEVEN AND MORE, and THE BOWL Food Lounge are also location factors that are highly valued by the founders of the companies. Successful companies that emerged from the IZB include adivo (now Zoetis) Corimmun (today Janssen-Cilag), Crlelux (today Wuxxi AppTec), Exosome Diagnostics (bought by Bio-Techn), ibidi, Immunic Therapeutics, Medigene, Micromet (today Amgen), MorphoSys, Octopharma or Rigontec (now MSD) as well as SIRION Biotech (today Perkin Elmer). More information at www.izb-online.com.

Press contact and photo material requests:
Marion Köhler, Head of Public Relations
Fördergesellschaft IZB mbH, Innovations- und Gründerzentrum Biotechnologie
Am Klopferspitz 19
D-82152 Planegg-Martinsried
Phone: +49 (0)89/55 279 48-17
E-Mail: ed.enilno-bzi@relheok