The start-up Sundew is one of the five early-stage ventures that are entering the BII Creation House program with DKK 10M in funding and access to business development, labs and office space.
During an EU Horizon 2020 project, scientists from University of Copenhagen and Netherlands Institute of Ecology developed a technology to treat water-borne pests and diseases that are causing major problems for fish farmers around the world.
The founders of Sundew acquired the license for this technology after learning about it at Copenhagen University’s IP Fair in 2018.
“Our product BIOKOS is a simple lipopeptide formulation from a proprietary bacterial strain that is effective against the freshwater protozoan parasite ICH – one of the most common plagues not only of fish farms but also of display aquaria, ornamental pond fish in recreational parks and similar, and pet fish”, says Jørgen Hansen, co-founder of Sundew.
Jørgen Hansen brings expertise in fermentation and microbial engineering to the founding team that also consists of biologist Esben Halkjær Hansen and life science entrepreneurs Andy Gardiner and Neil Goldsmith, the latter of which takes the role of Chair of the board.
“There are currently two main treatments for ICH, but one is banned in most countries as it is non-degradable and cancer-causing. The other is formaldehyde, which is dumped into fish farm ponds in large volumes. The solution we offer is naturally degradable and appears to cause no damage to the fish nor the environment”, explains Neil Goldsmith, who has had key roles in Evolva, Topotarget, Biotage and others.
Focusing on China
One key market for Sundew is China. It is by far the world’s largest aquaculture producer, with a production of close to 50M tonnes of farmed fish per year while a country such as Norway produces around 1.3M tonnes per year.
“Sundew’s biological solution is what the world of aquaculture needs right now. The industry is dealing with bans on the usage of antibiotics and other harmful chemical solutions and a product such as BIOKOS could help the transformation towards a more sustainable industry. Beyond that, I see that Sundew’s technology could also impact related sectors”, says Christian Brix Tillegreen, Senior Business Developer at BioInnovation Institute who will be working with the company.
Sundew will commence the production and sales of BIOKOS within the 18 months incubation at BioInnovation Institute. The initial product launch is expected to be in the ornamental market and Sundew is interested in talking to potential customers and groups around the world who would like to test BIOKOS, not only against ICH but also against other pests and diseases.
“At BioInnovation Institute we can establish a strong network around us and reach our production and sales goals much faster than we could on our own. We believe that being the first bioindustrial start-up at BII will have good branding value for our product launch”, says Jørgen Hansen.
Meet the other four start-ups in this batch of Creation House companies:
ALS start-up funded by BII
BII welcomes CRISPR start-up in Creation House
Ciana Therapeutics, a Zealand Pharma spin-out enters BII
Therapeutics start-up in osteoporosis funded by BII