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Biopôle Start-up Fund: First companies of 2023 announced

We are pleased to reveal the recipients of the first round of our Biôpole Start-up Fund for 2023: Genknowme, Testmate Health and Alithea Genomics. The fund offers up to CHF 90,000 a year over three consecutive years to promising life sciences ventures and all three of these companies, residents of Biopôle’s StartLab, have been selected before.

For Genknowme, this is the third and final year it will receive the fund. The company, which has used cutting-edge research into epigenetic signatures to develop a novel blood test that supports healthcare professionals coach patients to make healthy lifestyle changes, is the first ever start-up to be selected for the Biopôle Start-up Fund for three consecutive years. The company’s ability to identify key epigenetic markers to help adults track, maintain and improve their well-being and potential longevity means they are closely collaborating with Biopôle’s corporate partner Clinique La Prairie, which, thanks to this collaboration, was the first clinic in the world to perform epigenetic tests on all guests as standard. Genknowme performs all the epigenetic testing for Clinique La Prairie’s clients.

Semira Gonseth Nusslé, Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer, explains how the fund has helped Genknowme: ‘Over the past two years, the Biopôle Start-up Fund has been a valuable partner for our company. With its support, we’ve expanded our presence in both the Swiss and European markets. Additionally, we made significant progress in our R&D efforts, resulting in the development of several new products that will soon be available to our customers. The fund’s financial backing also allowed us to equip our laboratory to be fully self-sufficient. Overall, our partnership with the Biopôle Start-up Fund has solidified our position in the market and positioned us for future investment opportunities.’

Overall, our partnership with the Biopôle Start-up Fund has solidified our position in the market and positioned us for future investment opportunities

Semira Gonseth Nusslé, Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of Genknowme

Meanwhile, Testmate Health has been selected for the second consecutive year, having first received the fund in February 2022. The start-up is developing the first rapid, over-the-counter at-home test for four common STIs. Supported by digital health technology, the test gives immediate results without needing to visit a clinic.

Co-Founder and CEO of Testmate Health, Siew-Veena Sahi, outlines what the first year’s funding enabled the company to do: ‘We used the Biopôle Start-up Fund to achieve so much. We covered infrastructure rental in the form of lab benches and office desks for our growing team, designed a cogent clinical pathway within the FDA, developed a go-to-market strategy with experts and purchased our own thermocycler to increase throughput of experiments. The impact on the company has been palpable, with 12 months of highlights to celebrate: we successfully integrated our technology sub-blocks into a user-friendly workflow; filed five new patents; received the Eurostars EUREKA grant; and made key hires. We are, of course, elated to have been selected for the fund for a second year.’

From left to right: Sébastien Nusslé, Co-founder and CEO at Genknowme; Nasri Nahas, CEO at Biopôle SA; Siew-Veena Sahi, Co-founder and CEO at Testmate Health; and Riccardo Dainese, Co-founder at Alithea Genomics.

Alithea Genomics also receives the fund for the second time, after being initially selected in December 2021. The company offers large-scale RNA sequencing ‘for everyone’, having developed a new technology called bulk RNA barcoding and sequencing (BRB-seq) that enable simple, fast and cost-efficient generation of ‘big RNA data’ from diverse sample types. Alithea Genomics offers its solutions to other companies by running BRB-seq as a service on their behalf, but it has also created a range of library preparation kits that can be used by labs in their own facilities.

Riccardo Dainese, CEO and Co-Founder, explains why the timing of the fund is crucial: ‘We are in a pivotal moment of our journey in which large and consistent orders are starting to pile up. The Biopole Start-up Fund constitutes a significant support system to cope with rapidly increasing needs for more lab space, reagents and materials.’

Companies interested in applying for the Biopôle Start-up Fund can find all the information they need by clicking on the button below. The next application deadline is 2nd June, 2023.

Apply here

Company related to the news

Biopôle Start-Up Fund
Launched in 2021, the Biopôle’s Start-up Fund is a flagship initiative that helps the most promising life sciences ventures on campus to focus on what they do best. With up to three years of support with the costs of rental, research and development and key services, Biopôle SA supports entrepreneurial passion and early-stage innovation. The fund’s primary goal is to encourage start-ups that show scientific impact and growth potential. Companies are chosen based on scientific excellence, the relevance of their business model and the quality of founding and management teams.
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