Diarrhea amongst elderly does not only decrease the quality of life for patients. It can also have a fatal outcome and it puts a huge economic burden on society. PrOxi Biotech is part of the Business Acceleration Academy and they are trying to solve the problem of diarrhea with a vaccine. In the past weeks they have worked on their business plan after having gained a lot of new insights from the BAA program.
The start-up is founded by René Jørgensen, Aria Aminzadeh and Kasper G. Ørtenblad. It was René who got the idea for a new platform to create toxoid-based vaccines and Aria who found the solution. Kasper who is a master student at CBS joined the team to bring knowledge around building a business.
We talked to René Jørgensen about the company and their ambitions.
How did you come up with the idea for the vaccine?
Clostridium difficile is the most common cause of healthcare-associated diarrhea in the western world. I have worked several years at Statens Serum Institute in this field, and I have always wanted to develop something that can help people and make a difference in the world. I came up with the idea to efficiently deactivate bacterial toxins while preserving their immunogenic properties. Several students have worked on this idea over time without luck, but eventually Aria came up with a solution that worked.
What did you do from there?
We began the process of retrieving patents and tried to understand how to overcome the initial barriers that exist around starting a biotech company. It was not easy to find support at this very early stage and the skills we needed around legal issues and our IP situation are not acquired in academia. That is initially why we applied for the BAA program and it has already given us much more than that.
What has been the biggest eye opener since you joined the program?
It has been an eye opener to see how much work it takes to start a company and how completely different the mindset is. I have had to break out of my scientific bubble and be very outgoing, talk to a lot of people and constantly seek input. Building a start-up is very little about science and a lot about making a business model, finding investors and selling a product.
What are your plans after the BAA program?
Currently, we are working on a business model and seeking out different funding opportunities to continue our work after we graduate from the Business Acceleration Academy. Our ambition is to take our product to clinical trial and eventually the market, but it is also an ambition to learn the basics around building a biotech start-up.