Start-up competition for life science founders
Best business contacts for young companies
For the tenth time in a row, the annual European start-up competition BioRiver Boost! awarded the three best young companies on 22 September 2023. The high-calibre jury of experts presented the prizes after short presentations and subsequent expert discussions.
We look back on a successful anniversary in 2023.
Our heartfelt thanks go especially to the host Bayer Crop Science LifeHub, our jury, all applicants and the sponsors who made the event possible.
The winners of the 10th BioRiver Boost! 2023 are fixed. First place went to Akribion Genomics from Zwingenberg. The Company develops novel CRISPR nucleases into a new class of genetics-based cancer therapies and advanced genome editing tools. Cologne-based companies Plantman and Ningaloo Biosystems made places 2 and 3.
With its award, BioRiver – Life Sciences im Rheinland e.V., the regional association representing the biotech and life science industry in the Rhineland area, aims to strengthen very young start-ups and founding projects. The award enables and supports access to leading life science experts and investors as well as visibility and networking for promising start-ups.
The day-long closing event of the two-part competition took place on September 22, 2023, at the LifeHub of Bayer CropScience in Monheim, Germany, and was also aired live via Zoom. A total of eight shortlist candidates presented themselves in short presentations to the top-class jury. Following an intensive discussion, the expert committee, which included top-level executives from global life science companies, Bayer, Qiagen, Miltenyi Biotec, Lonza, Janssen-Cilag/Johnson & Johnson, as well as from NRW.BANK and High-Tech Gründerfonds, announced the winners. Honorary juror was Prof. Dr. Detlev Riesner, successful founding father and business angel in the biotechnological industry and emeritus of Heinrich Heine University.
10. BioRiver Boost! 2023
The winners are…
Akribion Genomics, Zwingenberg
Akribion Genomics, based in Zwingenberg, Germany, focuses on developing novel CRISPR nucleases into a new class of genetics-based cancer therapies and advanced genome editing tools. The company’s proprietary G-dase E® nuclease allows targeted cell depletion based on RNA biomarkers, with broad application potential across therapeutics and beyond. Dr. Oliver Grünvogel, Chief of Staff, accepted the award on site with the words: “We are very proud to being awarded first place at the BioRiver Boost! 2023. The award demonstrates the high transformative potential of our G-dase technology for therapeutic applications and supports our efforts to use our technology to improve products, processes and most importantly patient treatments according to high ethical standards.”
Plantman a cooperative project from the Cologne University Clusters of Excellence in Aging Associated Diseases (CECAD) and Plant Sciences (CEPLAS), is following an unconventional approach to find potential drugs to treat polyglutamine (polyQ) diseases like Huntington’s disease. To explore how plants deal with toxic protein aggregation, how plants deal with toxic protein aggregation, the researchers havethe researchers have introduced the toxic mutant introduced the toxic mutant protein huntingtin in plants, which causes cell death in human neuronsprotein huntingtin in plants, which causes cell death in human neurons, finding that Arabidopsis thaliana plants actively removed huntingtin protein clumps and avoid harmful effects. By means of thaliana plants actively removed huntingtin protein clumps and avoid harmful effects. By means of synthetic biology, the researche rs have transferred the plants’ ability into human cultivated cells and animal models of Huntington’s disease. “We are very excited to be awarded second place at BioRiver “We are very excited to be awarded second place at BioRiver Boost! 2023 ,” said Dr. Ernesto Llamas, Postdoctoral Scientist at CEPLAS “The recognition supports us and our goal to develop plant derived proteins to treat human neurodegenerative diseases that involve protein aggregation.
Ningaloo Biosystems, Köln
Ningaloo Biosystems, a young biotech startup from Cologne, is committed to developing innovative solutions for the production of next-generation biopharmaceuticals. The company’s optoelectronic systems in combination with its biological products enable the non-invasive, precise and digital control of various processes in cell cultures, while it can be used to control different parameters in parallel. The technology is suitable for both, research and production applications in the pharmaceutical industry. “Our goal is to develop real-time control options for process engineering to bring cell culture-based production to the next level. This will allow pharmaceutical companies to bring their novel biotechnological drugs against cancer, autoimmune or genetic diseases Through the clinical phases and to market without delay,” said Dr. Herbert Müller-Hartmann, co-founder of Ningaloo Biosystems GmbH, who presented the project on-site.
About the Start-up Competition BioRiver Boost!
Young companies developing disruptive technologies or innovative services for the biotechnology or life science industry can apply to the BioRiver Boost! start-up competition. Finalists are selected based on specific criteria, such as customer benefit and the degree of innovation of the technology, as well as the experience of the team and the quality of the business plan. In a two-stage process, the jury first selects eight finalists from all submissions, which then give an “elevator pitch” on the day of the competition and answer questions from experts. In a secret vote, the jury then decides on the best three projects. After the awards ceremony, the winners benefit from the extensive BioRiver network and its expertise to further their company’s development.
BioRiver Boost! was again supported by numerous sponsors this year. Platinum sponsors were KölnBusiness Wirtschaftsförderungs-GmbH and the City of Düsseldorf. Gold sponsor was Ruhr-IP Patent attorneys, Janssen-Cilag GmbH, Creative Campus Monheim and NRW.Bank. The event was hosted by Bayer Pharma and the LifeHub Bayer CropScience.
Additionally, BIO.NRW, the state association for the biotechnology industry in North Rhine-Westphalia, has certified the award as an important tool to support start-ups. BIO.NRW committed to financially supporting the award in this anniversary year.
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