Since January of 2013, a commercial subsidiary of Ipratech(Mons, Belgium) has been up and running on America’s east coast. Thanks to the support of Sofinex, (subsidiary of the group Sowalfin,Wallonnia Region), a group endorsing the internationalization of Wallonia-based enterprises, Ipratech has founded APIcells, Inc. with a strategy to launch its shared technologies to the biopharmaceutical market and a vision to enhance productivity with lower running-costs for cell culture processes.
At the helm of this entrepreneurial project sits David Sergeant, CEO of Ipratech, who has in a sense, received a civil engineering degree in computing and management to further develop the strategy of shared technologies.
“I was always fascinated by the biocellular world and I thought that my formation in management of computing processes could open a lot of real possibilities in this niche for me”, explains David Sergeant. With the North American biocellular market representing about 60 % of this activity in the world, Mr. Sergeant describes setting-up business on the other side of the Atlantic as “clearly justifiable”. Hence, APIcells, Inc. has established headquarters and a future hardware production facility on the outskirts of Boston in Lowell, Massachusetts and has also introduced an intensive plan of collaboration with UMASS – M2D2 as well as other partners.
Ipratech, a company focused on cell production and the equipment required for such production, began in 2007 and has been accommodated by the Polytechnic Faculty on the University of Mons premises. Alongside Sergeant in this journey, sit Thierry Poskin and Jules Vereecke, two associated shareholders. In addition, an investment from IMBC, through its subsidiary Spinnova, has supported this initiative from the beginning by taking a 46 % participation in equity. A partnership catering to the needs and timing of Ipratech’s founders, and receiving a loan of €100,000 has also made it possible for Ipratech to diversify their sources of funding and head overseas. It is also worth mentioning, the Mons-based company has actually finalized a capital increase linked to the forthcoming collateral loan already put into action with IMBC / Spinnova that has without a doubt helped to further increase its strength in the US market.
From cell production to installation
Following the recent repurchase of Cillbiotech, Ipratech has been developing two distinctly different activities that nevertheless remain inherently connected: the production and commercialization of mammalian cells for university laboratories and small pharmaceutical companies, and the installation of equipment for the production of these cells. ” With our cell production laboratory we test and control the material and solutions required to manage a continuous production of cells, with a specifically designed drip technology “, explains Mr. Sergeant.
Ipratech’s and APIcells’ shared technology
The two companies’ first shared technology, CytoSys, was recently launched and is now widely used in the development and manufacturing facilities of biotech and pharmaceutical companies throughout Europe. IpraBio, the biological branch of Ipratech, attentive to the needs and problems faced by biologists in their daily work, has been responsible for the manufacturing and marketing of the fully automated continuous (over months) production systems to improve the qualitative and quantitative results of cell cultures, providing innovative yet user-friendly solutions so as to facilitates the research or production of new biologics. The products are the result of 3 years of research on the daily management of cell cultures infused into clean environment. The initial focus and success of Ipratech & Iprabio has been on state-of-the art upstream design of any cell culture process based on fed-batch to perfusion with several proven successes using typical animal cell lines.
The company’s expanding strategy for bioprocessing also benefits from the use of Ipratech’s proprietary model for perfusion control with CytoSys, coupled to a perfusion device (CYTOPERF) that is either customized in-house or at the customer’s site for application to any cell culture process. Through the CytoSys station and its diverse components apace with Iprabio, Ipratech offers a solution for production and control of continuous cells both remotely and “on line”. This particular equipment, unique to its market, is intended for the large pharmaceutical companies that are actually producing the mammalian cells for the purpose of new therapeutic solutions themselves.
With the launch of approximately ten CytoSys stations expected on the market this year, sales of Ipratech could sail well beyond half a million euros.
Seems this journey has Ipratech and APIcells sailing in the right direction!
David Sergeant, CEO Ipratech
Rue de l’Epargne, 56
Phone: +32 65 37 45 80
Mobile: +32 499 41 27 04
Fax: +32 65 37 45 79
Wannalancit Mills Complex
600 Suffolk Street
Lowell, MA 01854
Phone: +1 978 703 1477
Fax: + 1 978 934 3442