At the closing gala of the international business plan competition – Best of Biotech “Get your business started” – on 3 July, the most successful projects received their awards. First prize went to pba³, a research team from Graz, which is working on the development of a new antibiotic. The researchers received the EUR 15,000 award for their business plan. The second prize of EUR 10,000 went to microQCM, from Aachen, for a novel special sensor design which will simplify marker-free analysis. The first prize was put up by Baxter BioScience AG, and the second prize was contributed by Boehringer Ingelheim Austria.
First prize: double-action antibiotic combats resistant bacteria and septic shock
The Graz research project pba³ headed by Professor Karl Lohner impressed the jury with its highly innovative antibiotic. Sponsored by the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the research team has set itself the goal of developing a substance that can be used to fight resistant bacteria and is at the same time capable of preventing the possible septic shock. There is a worldwide need for new treatments for septic shock, because sepsis can occur as a complication in all bacterial infections. Sepsis – commonly known as blood poisoning – is a severe illness, which typically attacks patients in a weakened state and frequently ends in death. The Graz research team is concentrating its investigations on special peptides with an especially innovative dual mechanism which enormously improves chances of recovery.
Second prize: microQCM does the work of 96 test tubes
A new sensor design recently developed by Markus Gruber, a biochemist from Aachen, Germany, analyses biomolecules such as proteins and nucleic acids. The new process dispenses completely with markers, so that the characteristics of the substances under investigation are not affected. The design consists of a microarray of 96 test spots, which can carry out up to 96 individual tests at the same time.
Best of Biotech – a history of success
A total of 45 project teams took part in the two rounds of this year’s competition. Most of the participants came from Austria, but there were also entries from Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine. In the final round more than 15 business plans were submitted, and the best 10 were evaluated by an international jury.
The high quality of the projects submitted shows once again that Austria – and Europe as a whole – is home to a many exceptionally talented researchers. “Commercialising this know-how creates new products, which represent enormous opportunities for Austria as a business location and significant advances for medical progress,” says Eva Czernohorszky, CEO of Life Science Austria Vienna Region, who was helping Austria Wirtschaftsservice (aws) in Vienna to organise the competition.
This cross-border start-up initiative has been in existence 2001, and was held this year for the fourth time. The competition is organised by Life Science Austria, aws’s biotech focal program, and is financed by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Economics and Labour. Peter Schintlmeister, speaking for the Ministry: “BOB is a major growth driver for the life sciences sector. Its international outreach is a strong encouragement to the exchange of skills and expertise and ideas leading to future collaborative ventures.”
Since the competition was first staged, 24 business start-ups have emerged from the ranks of BOB participants. “Our holistic approach to sponsoring is based on the integration of training, research and commercial considerations and complemented by a range of innovative, custom-tailored grants and incentives. We support young scientists right from the start and help them in setting up their business,” says Sonja Hammerschmid, head of aws’s Technology and Innovation group. “Best of Biotech offers researchers special coaching and the chance to turn an initial business idea into a full-blown business plan.”
BOB is a two-stage business plan competition focusing on life sciences, and is addressed to students and researchers at universities and extra-university research institutions and everyone with an innovative business idea developed on the basis of research results.
Best of Biotech hotline +43 (1) 501 75 548 Best of Biotech e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Nina Sallacz Austria Wirtschaftsservice BOB project manager E-mail: n.sallacz(at)awsg.at
Tel: +43 (1) 501 75 350 Fax: +43 (1) 501 75 908 Web: www.awsg.at
LISA VR is a joint initiative of Vienna’s Center for Innovation and Technology (ZIT) and Austria Wirtschaftsservice GmbH (aws). Life Science Austria Vienna Region (LISA VR) is the central life sciences consultancy and coordination hub in the Vienna region, and supports researchers and entrepreneurs on their way to a successful commercial future.