Entrepreneurship award

From the very beginning, we had a startup approach that was developed in various ways. We build our project to continue after the contest and create a company. We went on the field, we talked with many biotech entrepreneurs in Europe, but also with regulators to find how our solution could fit the market. This quickly abled us to pivot and to adapt the scope of our project to build something scientifically strong but also with a possible go to market.

We started with a clear vision that highly drives all the members of the team. We strongly believed that having a shared core value will be the best motivation for our team. The first thing we do, was sitting down to talk about the problem that we wanted to solve on the planet. After few brainstorming we all wanted to solve an humanitarian large scale problem. We were also very concerned about the antimicrobial resistance. What if you could solve act in both field? Usually big pharmas and bio based startups do not find solutions for humanitarian field. It is not often big market and if does not worth to work in this field. But a contest like iGEM gave us the opportunities to strive for finding a solution.

We got the best of our 11 students hard working and highly motivated team we knew the importance of having a structured and efficient collaboration approach. As any startups we used management tools, we established processes to be as efficient as possible. Everyone has his clear role in this venture.

Beside the team, we created an advisory board. It is constituted of key science entrepreneur, such as Victor Dillard (CEO of Desktop Genetic, Forbes 30 Under 30, MIT Innovator Under 35, who also came as a speaker on our conference). We also have entrepreneurship mentor such as Stephan Dehousse (serial entrepreneur, and CTO of Startup Factory), Bruno Wattenbergh (Strategy Professor at Solvay Business School) and Azèle Mathieu (managing director of the life-science incubator And also key researchers such as Jean-Paul Pirnay (from the Military Hospital, world's leading expert in phage therapy)

All our partnerships were made to continue our venture, and push it forward after the iGEM contest. As soon as we had identified our vision, we established a very strong partnership with the Belgian Defense (the Military Hospital). Throughout our whole venture we keep in touch and exchanged our result and strategy. This allowed us to design something in regard to the final potential application. They were also part of our round table event at the European Parliament. We will do a large kick-off meeting with them right after the iGEM competition to establish the next steps. We also conclude a strong partnership with the Belgian Red Cross, they helped us to better define the problem we try to solve, and helped to to organize our field trip.

We conducted several meeting with key leaders and potential customers/user. We were helped by the entrepreneurs we met to create a strong pitch. We pitched many partners and sponsors to get money from it. We organized a Skype with Andreas Hougaard Laustsen, PhD, Associate Professor (DTU ) Technical University of Denmark) & Serial Biotech Entrepreneur. He gave us advices to better adapt our approach to the European GMO regulation. We also organized a skype meeting with Jordane Dimidschstein, PhD and Group Leader at Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. We explain us the next step about the preclinical studies and the toxicity test that we will have to manage. We met Thibault Helleputte, PhD and CEO & Founder of DNAlytics. He gave explained us the regulatory path to undergoes and gave us the specific contact to the right institutions. We were helped by Philip Hemme, the CEO & Founder of to find our speakers for our Biotech4Change event, he also put us in touch with Deep Science Venture, a life-science incubator. Beside all these specifics meetings, we also had very enriching continuous feedbacks from our advisory board.

Beside those partnerships, we got in touch with the Ann Van Gysel, PhD and CEO & Founder Turnstone. We contacted her on the behalf of Philip Hemme to moderated our Round Table. As for our other partnerships we built a long terme relation and we have the common vision to organise other sessions. In order to give a larger perspective to our project, we paired up with Young Change Maker to interconnect non-scientific people with young researcher.

Swot analyze

  • Our solution has modular design, that can be easily modified according to the specific pathogen genes that to want to target.
  • We want to offer a new solution to fight bacterial infections.
  • We build strong partnerships with key market leaders to push our project further in the different aspects (Hospital, Lab, Regulator).
  • It is a huge market size.

  • We have to engineer an efficient bio-containment system to be able to spread our solutions (we already have an approach).
  • We encounter few stability problems that we still have to fix.

  • We created a new approach in a inflated field, it is huge market and many companies are working on it.
  • We are working on an patented application with the Technological Transfer Office of our university.

  • To have a go to market we have a lot of process to go through. This solution require heavy preclinical studies and clinical studies.
  • The legal frame for GMO and CRISPR based therapeutic solutions.
  • There are already on the market a similar approach that use a engineered plasmid, however their vector is different since they use phages as vector.

From the very beginning, we wanted to work on a real solution to address a real problem. The only way to understand what we were potentially going to face was a trip in the field! For this reason our colleague Sara, medical student and iGEMer decided to go to Benin on a humanitarian trip.
The Benin was not choose by hazard, we talked with our partner the Belgian Red Cross to organize this trip. Benin is heavily affected by cholera and salmonella outbreak. Through our contact with the Red Cross Sara were able to visit the infected camps in the north of the country.

It was a life-impacting experience that allowed us to help local people and even more important to collect data on epidemics! We had the advices of several local microbiologists and doctors to better understand the local conditions. One of our learnings was for instance to graphically explain how to use our solution, rather than a written explanation due to the low literacy level. This may seems like a detail, but all this kind of information is crucial to develop a real solution.

Once again we were glad to see that our project impressed many people and the terrible situations we saw pushed us once again to do our best to achieve our project. We can have an impact and we have a potentially interested public!

Intellectual property

We performed a prior art search to potentially build Intellectual Property. We talked with the Technology Transfer Office of our university. We identified a way to apply a patent for one specific application of our project.

The next steps

Wh talked with Deep Science Venture, a life-science incubator based in London. Depending on our lab outcome they proposed us to invest £100k to further push this venture. The program starts with a first three months validation period. At the end of this period, the entrepreneurs/scientists pitch their project to investors to rise money. After the contest we have planned a meeting with them. Our Lab and Research leader and Team leader and other members are truly considerate to integrate this program to switch our adventure to a research project to a startup venture.

Our financing approach

We quadrupled the amount of private sponsoring compared to the previous year. We decided to prior smart money. This way pitch our project in front of decision maker of large pharmaceutical companies. That gave us a certain project maturity, it was great exercise, that give us tools and experience to convince investor for much larger investments in our venture. This way, we anticipated the possible after-contest outcomes to use the momentum generated by iGEM.

We were also financed by the Brussels Public Institute Innoviris with a startup proof of concept grant. This sponsorship was a first step that opened the door for another financing opportunity if we keep going the project after the contest.