The start-up Metabolyzer is part of the Business Acceleration Academy at BII and for the past four years, the founders have worked on their digital metabolism technology. In the BAA program, they decided to dive deep into the gut microbiome and unravel what drives beneficial interactions on a molecular level.
The company brings a strong scientific team with the three co-founders: CEO Moritz Emanuel Beber and COO Christian Lieven who are both Postdocs in Computational Systems Biology at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability and CTO Ali Kaafarani, who is a Software Developer and Operations Engineer.
We met with Christian Lieven and Moritz Emanuel Beber for a talk about business and science.
What are you working on?
Essentially, we have found a way to translate the gut’s language by taking into account an individual’s unique combination of gut microorganisms and their corresponding genes. We can compare the state of a healthy gut with a diseased one and find specific markers or strategies that transform the latter into the former. By using computer models, we can then identify how one can help the good bacteria and drive out the bad ones.
Where is your market?
Many people want to be proactive about their well-being or maximize their performance. Both can be affected by the microbiome. We see a problem with the current solutions on the market in that they do not offer any specific advice on how to improve the microbiome through dieting. We believe we can do that through our computer models.
Our technology could also help people who suffer from Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Even patients with Type 2 diabetes who need to lose weight could benefit from having specific bacteria in their microbiome.
For someone with a strong scientific background, what is it like to be in business?
Difficult. We are stepping quite far out of our comfort zone, but it is also fun to challenge ourselves, and we have been looking for an opportunity like this for the past year and a half. It has been hard to make time to work on the business side of the project at the university so having these three months without distractions is really helpful.
What is the difference between the approach in science and business?
Science is very much about methodology while it seems business is more about appearances. It is quite difficult to accept that we try to sell something first and then back it up afterward. We are used to triple checking everything before we tell anyone about it, so there is definitely a character conflict in how we work. On the other hand, it is very interesting to be exposed to many different ideas and interesting people. For the past three years, we have worked with the same five people but here we are getting new and very valuable perspectives.
What is your focus right now?
We came here because we want to see our application all the way through to the market and understand how we can have the biggest impact on society with our technology.
Follow Metabolyzer here.