6 Irish start-ups taking to the virtual stage at BioEquity Europe

13 May 20211.01k Views

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BioEquity Europe will give biotech, pharma and medtech start-ups the chance to shine and potentially attract international investment.

BioEquity Europe is an international showcase where financial dealmakers and biopharma execs meet rising biotech start-ups.

While Covid-19 restrictions prevented the event from taking place last year, when it was due to come to Ireland, the 2021 conference is set to go ahead online next week (17 to 19 May 2021).

The event will host strategic panels on the biotech sector and will give more than 130 companies the opportunity to meet international VCs.

Among the companies are six spin-outs from Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences that are advancing a variety of solutions to unmet clinical needs in disease areas such as autoimmunity, glaucoma and sepsis.

Five of these spin-outs will participate in BioEquity Europe’s first ever dedicated conference track for spin-outs from academic institutions, while the sixth start-up will present in a pre-seed track at the event.

Eric Pierce, publisher of BioCentury which organises BioEquity Europe, said he is very impressed with the calibre of spin-outs from TCD and RCSI.

“We are creating BioEquity history as this is the first time in 21 years of running this event that we have a dedicated track for academic spin-outs, and we look forward to making these spin-out sessions part of future BioEquity programming.”

Spin-outs from life sciences research at RCSI and TCD are a key deliverable of the RCSI-Trinity knowledge transfer consortium, a partnership supported by Knowledge Transfer Ireland and Enterprise Ireland.

Dr Aoife Gallagher, head of innovation at RCSI, said: “What is very encouraging is the depth and scale that is created by our two institutes working together, which enables us to showcase our portfolio of spin-outs to an international investor audience.”

Azadyne

TCD spin-out Azadyne aims to deliver improved medicines for patients with autoimmune disease, including multiple sclerosis.

Its novel approach focuses on an unexplored pathway in the body and is based on research conducted at TCD by associate professor in biochemistry Vincent Kelly, professor of synthetic chemistry Stephen Connon and assistant professor in chemistry John Southern.

In 2019, the start-up raised €1.75m in an investment round led by NCL Technology Ventures and private investors.

Exhaura

Exhaura is an ophthalmology gene therapy company with an initial focus in glaucoma. The innovation that underpins Exhaura’s pipeline was developed at TCD’s School of Genetics and Microbiology and includes innovative cost-effective intraocular pressure-lowering and neuroprotective gene therapy products.

The company is backed by a deeply experienced team with a track record of financing, development and manufacturing gene therapy products. It was among the emerging TCD companies honoured at the 2019 Trinity Innovation Awards.

Neuropath

Founded by Dr Julie Kelly, Neuropath is focused on the translational development of a promising lead compound as a potential drug for neurodegenerative diseases such as motor neuron disease.

Kelly discovered this compound through her research at TCD into the central nervous system effects and therapeutic potential of thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH). Neuropath’s initial objective is to advance this TRH-based lead compound from the laboratory to early-phase human clinical trials.

OncoLize

While OncoLize is a Dutch start-up, it is developing injectable drug depots for better tumour treatment based on ChemoGel, a thermo-responsive gel drug delivery platform for local and site-specific treatment of solid tumours that was developed by Prof Helena Kelly and her team at RCSI.

ChemoGel was recognised at Enterprise Ireland’s Big Ideas showcase in 2018 for its new way to deliver drugs to tumours that are typically difficult to penetrate with necessary treatment.

OncoLize’s products can be delivered via routine procedures and could enable the localised and controlled release of both approved drugs and novel drugs inside solid tumours. The start-up aims to increase overall survival time for patients suffering from hard-to-treat and aggressive solid tumours such as pancreatic cancer, liver cancer and brain and endocrine cancers.

Inthelia Therapeutics

Inthelia Therapeutics is a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company that has spun out from RCSI. It aims to develop personalised therapeutic approaches to support recovery from or prevent death due to pathogen-induced endothelial dysfunction and infection, including sepsis and septic shock.

The company is raising €22m to establish a team and fund the completion a phase 2a clinical trial in sepsis patients. The trial goals will be to identify the optimal dose and confirm safety.

Vertigenius

TCD spin-out Vertigenius will be presenting in a pre-seed track at BioEquity Europe. The company develops medical device technology for the treatment of dizziness, vertigo and imbalance.

Vertigenius offers a clinician portal, a wearable head sensor to track head movements, and an easy-to-use patient app. The company is currently testing its platform in a clinical study in a university teaching hospital. The company featured at last year’s Enterprise Ireland Big Ideas Showcase.

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Jenny Darmody is the deputy editor of Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com