Best of Biotech 2010: The Winners

In October 2010, the international life science business plan competition “Best of Biotech” (BOB) – funded by the Ministry of Economy, Family and Youth (BMWFJ) and organized by Austria Wirtschaftsservice (aws) took place for the fifth time.

The attendance numbers at the competition were the highest ever: a total of 25 teams participated in the last phase of the two-staged competition. Researcher teams from all over the world, including Austria, Hungary, Germany, Poland, Singapore as well as the US were submitting business plans. The prize money awarded amounted to a total of EUR 30,000 sponsored by Baxter, Boehrin - ger Ingelheim, and AFFiRis. In addition, the first LISA VR Medtech award in the amount of EUR 10,000 was granted.
The first prize (EUR 15,000) was awarded to the young biotech company AyoxxA from Singapore. The team of Dr. Andreas Schmidt commercializes a platform that enables the simultaneous measurement of multiple proteins as well as other biomolecular analytes from a single minute volume sample. The Viennese company Xiber Science set up by Sonja Reingruber and Peter Petzelbauer was awarded the second prize (EUR 10,000). The spinoff of the Medical University Vienna develops new peptides to reduce mortality and morbidity of critical care patients.
And the third prize (EUR 5,000) went to the team of Jürgen Jesenko and Horst Koinig. The Carinthian dental care company, Blueline, develops and distributes an intra - oral 3D scanner, which digitalizes dental im - pressions and leads to accurate dental replacements. Blueline also prevailed against outstanding competitors from the medical devices industry and was furthermore awarded with the LISA VR Medtech Award in the amount of EUR 10,000.
Four months after the award ceremony, LISA VR interviewed Dr. Schmidt of AyoxxA and asked him about the BOB participation and the company developments afterwards.

LISA VR: How did you become aware of the BOB competition?
If you are a biotech startup in a “small red dot” city state like Singapore, you realize at a very early stage that probably your market, your partners, and potentially investors are not just in front of your door, but actually far away. Europe and the US appeared very early on our screen. Everything else is then just Googling and looking for the right fit…

LISA VR: Can you explain your submitted project in one sentence?
AyoxxA’s biochip can de tect and quantify hundreds of proteins in a single most minute droplet – Accura tely, Reliably, and Rapidly.

LISA VR: Did AyyoxA benefit from the participation in BOB respectively from the first prize?
Well, the nice green mega-sized check became the “decoration & inspiration” of our lab and the money is still in our account. But more seriously: It was very valuable feedback that we got from the jury. Many of them really hit the nail on the head concerning our strengths and weaknesses. I am actually in quite regular contact with some of the people I met during BOB. And finally it has a psychological effect: If you work hard on pushing a “silly research project” to become a serious biotech company, validation is very important if a highly renowned jury puts a stamp of approval on your project and confirms that there is some business substance in what you are doing. So, for us, it was very valuable by all accounts.

LISA VR: How do you rate the differences in business funding between Singapore and Europe?
It’s a completely different situation. Fifteen years ago, Singapore basically did not exist as a biotech hub. Many of the research institutes and technology companies here just started. So by now there are quite a few support schemes and government grants available in Singapore. There is also a small but distinct community of private people willing to put their money into biotech and there are several schemes that attracted venture capital firms to set up office here. But, of course, it is still all in an early stage. In Europe, I have the impression that there are quite a number of regional funding schemes as well as VCs, which are actually fairly flexible from Vienna to Amsterdam and Munich to London.
By this time there is even some more great news about AyoxxA: At the beginning of 2011 they were selected as a recipient of SPRING Singapore’s Commercialization Grant TECS in the amount of about EUR 300,000. Furthermore, the Kauffman Foun - dation listed AyoxxA under the top ten of the 50 most promising startups. And Dr. Schmid was nominated as “Junior Scientist of the year 2010” by the German weekly newspaper “Die Zeit”.

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