Cutting-edge research at Munich’s IZB attracts strong interest
IZB-based biotech start-ups raised over EUR 170 million and entered top-class partnerships in the first half of 2022.
Innovation and Start-up Center Biotechnology in Martinsried by Munich
Martinsried near Munich, July 14, 2022 – The German Biotechnology Innovation and Start-up Centre (IZB), one of the leading biotechnology centres in Europe with over 50 resident biotech start-ups, today gives a positive summary of the developments in the first half of 2022. “We are incredibly proud of the progress the start-ups at the IZB have made this year. The innovative science and cutting-edge technologies being developed here continue to attract very strong interest from life science investors, who have supported the start-ups with over EUR 170 million in follow-on financing in the first half-year alone,” said Dr Peter Hanns Zobel, Managing Director of the Biotechnology Innovation and Start-up Centre. “In addition, it is great to see how current and former IZB start-ups succeed in entering long-term collaborations with large biotech and pharma players and complementing their leadership teams with recognized industry experts. I am also particularly pleased that our renowned IZB Biotech Press Lounge returned as a hybrid event after a two-year Corona hiatus and attracted more interest than ever.”
A successful half-year for follow-on financings of IZB start-ups
PreOmics GmbH, a developer of sample processing technologies for mass-spectrometry-based protein analysis, successfully started the year with a Series B financing round, receiving EUR 13.5 million from Bruker Corporation (Nasdaq: BRKR) in January. Bruker’s financial and scientific involvement will enable the start-up to accelerate research, development and commercialization of its proprietary proteomics technologies.
The U.S. joint venture of Origenis GmbH and U.S. venture investor Kleiner Perkins, Neuron23 Inc., closed a successful USD 100 million (approx. EUR 95 million) Series C financing led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 in April. Existing Series A and B investors also participated in the funding round, which brings the company’s total funding to USD 213.5 million. Neuron23 focuses on developing precision medicines for genetically defined neurological and immunological diseases and recently nominated a clinical candidate for Parkinson’s disease.
In May, Tubulis, a biotech start-up founded in 2019 with novel technologies to improve antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), announced a successful EUR 60 million Series B financing round led by Andera Partners. Apart from all existing investors, two new investors, Evotec and Fund+, participated in the financing round. The new capital will be used to advance Tubulis’ proprietary ADC pipeline towards clinical trials and introduce programs addressing a range of solid tumor indications. In June, the start-up moved into the IZB.
Top-class partnerships with international biotech and pharmaceutical companies
adivo GmbH, a leader in discovering species-specific therapeutic antibodies for pets, announced in Juliy 2022 the expansion of a global research collaboration with one of the leading animal health companies. The original agreement signed in December 2020, will now include the joint discovery and development of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies for cats in addition to ongoing research projects addressing severe diseases in dogs. The news also marks the commercial launch of adivo’s novel proprietary feline-specific antibody library FELIX, which is the first fully synthetic source of therapeutic antibodies on the market to date. adivo stands to receive research funding, success-based milestones and royalties on commercialized products. Further financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Sirana Pharma, a biotechnology company focusing on the development of innovative and effective treatments for unmet medical needs in muscle and bone diseases and bone diseases with unmet medical needs, has been collaborating with Pfizer since June to develop a new therapy to treat a rare bone disease. The collaboration uses Sirana’s proprietary, targeted miRNA approach to identify potential regenerative drug candidates to repair diseased muscle and bone tissue.
Also in June, mk2 Biotechnologies, a company developing peptides using a revolutionary synthesis technology, announced a collaboration with WACKER and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) for a process to produce antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) on a large scale. The project will run for two years and aims to introduce industrially suitable AMPs as a sustainable alternative to artificial preservatives.
Proteros biostructures, an expert in integrated structure-based drug discovery, expanded its collaboration agreement with AstraZeneca in May this year to discover and develop novel epigenetic drugs. The IZB alumnus will receive up to USD 75 million (around EUR 71 million) in research funding and success-based research fees, development, and commercial milestones, plus tiered royalties on net annual sales. The multi-year collaboration combines Proteros’ expertise in identifying and characterizing inhibitors with novel binding mechanisms for technically challenging targets with AstraZeneca’s leading role in cancer drug discovery and development.
Another IZB alumnus, ViGeneron, a next-generation gene therapy company, announced in the first half of 2022 not one, but two collaborations with international companies of high calibre. The strategic collaboration with Regeneron allows the company to use ViGeneron’s novel engineered recombinant adeno-associated virus vectors (vgAAVs) to treat an inherited retinal disease (IRD), whereas the follow-on cooperation with Daiichi Sankyo aims at developing a novel vgAAV-based gene therapy for prevalent eye diseases. Financial terms of both collaborations were not disclosed.
New start-ups at the IZB and innovative discoveries
Research at the IZB is conducted in a wide variety of life sciences fields, not only in medical but also in industrial biotechnology. Origin.Bio, who aims to use synthetic biology to produce raw material alternatives sustainably and on an industrial scale, thereby making petrochemicals obsolete in the long term, found a home at the IZB in February this year. The company’s CEO, Jens Klein, however, is not new to the campus, having previously worked as managing director of AMSilk GmbH for many years.
Early this year, SCG Cell Therapy Pte. Ltd., a Singapore-based biotechnology company focusing on the development of novel immunotherapies for patients with infections and infection-associated cancers, decided to open a new R&D site in Germany, and has selected the IZB as the best location to expand the company’s portfolio of innovative immunotherapy products and platforms. SCG Cell has operating sites in Singapore and China.
4GENE, a company specialized in glycosylated materials, has developed an innovative solution for detecting fire risks through warning odor signals. The bonded warning odors can be applied to surfaces as a sticker or as a coating and are released when a critical temperature has been exceeded. The company calls this patented mechanism “SNIFF and SAVE”. 4GENE is currently working on lowering the threshold temperature, from 130°C to 100°C and 80°, which can be of essential benefit in many applications.
LINDIS Biotech, a biopharmaceutical company specializing in development of a new class of T-cell engaging bispecific antibodies, presented interim data from their Catunibla Phase I dose escalation trial with CATUMAXOMAB at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting. The trial assesses the safety and effectivity of the company’s antibody as a potential first in class immuno-oncology treatment option for Non-Muscle-Invasive Bladder Cancer (NMIBC). These initial results are encouraging and once completed, data from Phase I will be presented at further scientific conferences.
Expansion of management teams
IZB start-ups significantly strengthened their leadership teams in the first half of the year. At AMSilk GmbH, a world leader in supplying innovative high-performance bio-based silk materials, there have been two new additions to the management team to steer the ship: International marketing and sales expert Benoît Cugnet joined the company’s leadership team as Head of Fiber Business Unit starting January 1st, while Klaus Kjedal was appointed Chief Production Officer (CPO) and Managing Director in May to lead the commercial scale-up of AMSilk’s protein production.
In May, SciRhom GmbH, a therapeutic antibody developer, appointed Dr. Jan Poth as new Chief Executive Officer to advance the company’s proprietary pipeline of anti-iRhom2 antibodies. Dr. Poth brings a wealth of international experience to the company, having held various positions along the pharmaceutical value chain throughout his career, including Therapeutic Area Head Immunology at Boehringer Ingelheim. As CEO, he succeeds Dr. Jens Ruhe, co-founder of SciRhom, who will continue to support the start-up as Chief Operating Officer.
After a two-year Corona break, the 14th Biotech Press Lounge returned this year on 23rd March. The well-established IZB network meeting brought together journalists and multipliers from the biotech, pharmaceutical and venture capital sectors in a first-time hybrid event. Around 40 guests met in person at the International Press Club in Munich for five inspiring keynote talks about medical innovations that are changing the world, while over 200 industry representatives followed the event on live streaming. The next Biotech Press Lounge will take place on September 30, 2022 at the IZB.
Also, the business reception at the IZB could finally take place again in June and was fully booked with more than 50 entrepreneurs. Together with the hosts Kerstin Schreyer, Member of the Bavarian Parliament and former Minister of State, and Dr. Peter Hanns Zobel, Managing Director of IZB, the participants followed the keynote speech of Bertram Brossardt, Managing Director of the Bavarian Business Association (vwv), about the perspectives of the Bavarian economy against the background of current crises and challenges, and then took the opportunity for networking.
The IZBrunch was also revived in the summer after the Corona crisis. The campus speakers Prof. Magdalena Götz and Prof. Hanna Taipaleenmäki as well as the IZB start-ups with Dr. Alexander Gebauer, GF Secarna Pharmaceuticals GmbH, and Dr. Jonas Helma-Smets, CSO of Tubulis GmbH, could be gained for it.
About the Innovation and Start-up Centre for Biotechnology (IZB) in Martinsried, Munich
The development company IZB mbH, founded in 1995, is the operating company of the innovation and start-up centres for biotechnology in Planegg-Martinsried and Freising-Weihenstephan and has developed into a leading biotechnology centre. More than 50 biotech companies with over 700 employees are currently located on 26,000 m2. Here, researchers are working on the development of drugs against the most serious diseases, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, and various autoimmune diseases. A key criterion for the success of the IZBs is the spatial proximity to top-level research on the Martinsried/Großhadern campus and the Weihenstephan campus. The new infrastructure measures such as the Faculty Club G2B (Gateway to Biotech), the IZB Residence CAMPUS AT HOME, the Elhardt Chemistry School, the two kindergartens Bio Kids and Bio Kids2 and the two restaurants SEVEN AND MORE and THE BOWL Food Lounge are also location features that are highly appreciated by company founders. Successful companies that have emerged from the IZB, to name just a few, include Corimmun (today Janssen-Cilag), Coriolis, Exosome Diagnostics (bought by Bio-Techne), ibidi, Immunic Therapeutics, Medigene, Micromet (today Amgen), MorphoSys, Octopharma or Rigontec (today MSD). More information at www.izb-online.de
Press contact and photo material requests:
Susanne Simon, Head of Press and Public Relations
Fördergesellschaft IZB mbH, Innovations- und Gründerzentrum Biotechnologie (IZB)
Am Klopferspitz 19, D-82152 Planegg-Martinsried, Tel.: +49 (0)89/55 279 48-17, E-Mail: ed.enilno-bzi@nomis;