“We Want to Become a European Innovation Hub within the Life Sciences”
BioInnovation Institute is poised to become the epicentre for entrepreneurial scientists within the life science sphere. This is all the more promising considering one of their first start-ups just closed a Series-A investment round of 20 million euro.
In describing the BioInnovation Institute’s (BII) mission, their CEO, Jens Nielsen, points to the ambitious task of bridging the gap between universities and society. The idea is to inject research ideas into companies that create socially-beneficial products and services.
With this mandate and a capital injection of about 470 million Danish kroner from the Novo Nordisk Foundation for the three-year establishment phase, Nielsen and the team at BII are well on their way to accomplishing their ambitious target. Their platform is an incubator where scientists are given time and 10 million kroner to prepare their technology for the market.
A select few
Eight companies are currently participating in the incubator program that is known as “Creation House.” By the beginning of 2020, 4 more companies are expected to join the cohort – following a rigorous selection process. In more detail: “Applications are accepted twice a year. Applicants are assessed by a committee of industry insiders, venture capitalists, and serial entrepreneurs. In the end, we host a pitch event, where 7-8 companies present,” Nielsen explains.
This screening process enables the group to identify the most promising companies who are the right “fit” to enter the incubator. In other words, the team can assess the likelihood of a specific business moving forward with an injection of money and mentorship.
“We can help them build a solid team, where they can bring experienced, business-developing forces on board. Along the way, we support their journey in making a clear business case out of research by having a strong market focus,” says Nielsen.
Capital alone does not constitute a good business case
Typically, BII’s Business Acceleration Academy programme accepts companies that are at a relatively early stage of development, ones that are not yet ready to secure capital from traditional investors. This is due, in part, to Nielsen’s contention that, capital alone should not be the sole focus when starting a business.
Capital alone does not determine whether businesses will be sustainable. That’s why we focus not only on getting them ready for the next round of investments but on helping them to become a business
Jens Nielsen, CEO of the BioInnovation Institute
“Capital alone does not determine whether businesses will be sustainable. That’s why we focus not only on getting them ready for the next round of investments but on helping them to become a business,” Nielsen explains.
The road to becoming a European innovation hub for life science
Their formula has been validated through one of the first participants, Stipe Therapeutics. Recently, the start-up closed a Series-A investment round with 20 million euros. Having a ripple effect, their experience can benefit other companies in the incubator.
At the helm of BII, Nielsen’s ambitions extend further. The organisation is scheduled to become an independent funder as of January 2021.
Looking ahead, Nielsen envisions: “In 10 years, we will have created thousands of new jobs in Denmark. We will have become the natural destination for ambitious researchers, who come here because they believe that the environment we provide gives them the greatest chance of succeeding with their business. In this way, we can become a European hub for innovation within the life sciences. That is our vision.”