i&i Biotech Fund will invest up to EUR 340 000 into Czech startup Sophomer s.r.o. The funding will support further technology development
Prague, 15 March 2023 – Czech academic startup Sophomer s.r.o. has announced an investment of up to EUR 340 000 from i&i Biotech Fund. The funding will be used for further technology development, team expansion and new laboratory space. Sophomer s.r.o. was established at the end of 2022 as a result of a collaboration between the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry CAS, the company Elisa Development, and the bio-innovation center i&i Prague. The establishment of Sophomer represents another unique example of successful technology transfer.
Synthesis of a polymer product at a defined temperature in a bath.
Sophomer s.r.o. specializes in the development and production of synthetic polymers for in vitro diagnostics. The first product to be launched in the upcoming months is SophoMer F10. This polymer could fully replace the widely used bovine serum albumin (BSA) in common immunological assays. BSA blocks unwanted signals during testing, which in turn increases the measurement accuracy.
The difference between a SophoMer™ F10 and a BSA.
Martin Burkhard, managing director of Sophomer s.r.o., describes the key advantages of the new polymer: “Because the production of our fully synthetic polymer requires no animal-derived constituents, we eliminated the problem of pathogen occurrence and the associated need to obtain veterinary certificates. It also means we’re able to produce individual lots in a standardized quality, which typically presents a significant challenge otherwise. Lastly, SophoMer F10 is at least five times more efficient than BSA.”
The company is currently collaborating with a leading European manufacturer on the development of diagnostic kits utilizing SophoMer F10 as the primary component. In addition, internal tests carried out by several important in vitro diagnostics manufacturers are nearing completion. If everything turns out well, nothing should prevent the world's largest manufacturers from using SophoMer F10 polymer in their diagnostic kits. Finally, Sophomer s.r.o. has also recently begun developing three additional polymers.
Synthesis of a polymer product at a defined temperature in a bath.
The necessary costs associated with the growth of the startup will be covered by the initial investment provided by i&i Biotech Fund specializing in unique academic startups in the areas of drug discovery, diagnostics, and medical technologies. “We were particularly interested in this young Czech startup because of its dynamism. In record time its team managed to sign a licensing agreement, start operations, secure their first contract, and launch the first product. We have every faith in their science and in their ability to attract industry partners. We’re pleased to be a part of this promising project from square one,” says Tomáš Maršálek, financial director at i&i Biotech Fund.
The ability to attract its first investor represents an important milestone in the history of the company, the creation of which is a model example of effective technology transfer. “Technology transfer is a long haul, but it’s an essential part of conveying research results into practice. Without it, many outstanding scientific discoveries would fall by the wayside. Our task in this journey is to be a useful intermediary, helping cutting-edge technologies find applications on the market,” explains Jiří Moos from i&i Prague, which has been with the project since its inception.
Martin Kovalčík, 777 472 863, email@example.com
About Sophomer Ltd.
Sophomer s.r.o. is an academic startup founded by a group of people who come from both industry and academia. Their vision is to bring together two seemingly unrelated fields: immunochemistry and polymer chemistry to help anyone who uses immunoassays in their work. One of the startup's first and widely applicable products is SophoMer F10, a polymer that can replace the widely used bovine serum albumin, currently a component without which the development of immunological analytics is seemingly unimaginable.
About i&i Biotech Fund
i&i Bio is a Luxembourg-based venture capital firm that invests in innovative European Life Sciences companies focused on drug discoveries, medical devices, diagnostics, and digital health. The Fund was created thanks to the cooperation of the biotech incubator i&i Prague and the European Investment Fund (see below). With over €47M under management, i&i Bio plans to invest in about 20 early-stage companies. i&i Bio is led by an experienced team of professionals with backgrounds in private equity, healthcare and venture capital supporting entrepreneurs on their journey to global success. Thanks to close cooperation with the fund’s main sponsor, the biotech academic incubator i&i Prague, i&i Bio is supporting and advancing transformative Central European technology companies. For more information visit www.inibio.eu.
About i&i Prague
The i&i Prague Bio-Innovation Center focuses on the transfer of new technologies into practice. The company was established at the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS and is mainly dedicated to innovations in the field of drug development, diagnostics and medical devices originating from academic institutions. It supports the creation of spin-off companies and the sale of licenses. So far, the company has participated in the creation of or otherwise supported 15 spin-off companies from five countries, has an equity stake in nine of them and has invested over 70 million crowns. In total, the spin-offs in i&i Prague's portfolio have raised more than CZK 1.8 billion from other investors. In addition to direct financial investments, i&i Prague also assists more than 15 research institutions and universities in the Czech Republic and abroad in the commercialization of innovative technologies. In 2021, i&i Prague started up the i&i Bio investment fund. Learn more here: www.iniprague.com.
About Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry of the CAS, v. v. i. (IMC)
The Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry of the CAS, v. v. i. (IMC) is the largest research institution in the field of polymer and polymer materials research in the Czech Republic. In this field, it is also among the most important academic research centres in the world. IMC has a knowledge potential of more than 120 scientists in the key fields of macromolecular chemistry, physical chemistry and polymer physics, as well as in related fields such as biochemistry or biomedical or materials engineering. Although the institute is primarily focused on basic research, it also works closely with the application sphere, as evidenced by a number of applied basic research results. Read more here: www.imc.cas.cz/eng.
About Elisa Development
Elisa Development, in cooperation with the Food Research Institute Prague, has previously developed and marketed several ELISA format immunoassay kits for the quantitative detection of food allergens in food and food raw materials. During this development, the company's staff has repeatedly faced the problem of variable quality of BSA, which is very often used as a blocker of non-specific interactions. These problems were the impetus for the idea of replacing BSA derived from bovine serum with a synthetic polymer, which led to the approach to i&i Prague and subsequently to the collaboration with the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry.