ImmunXperts s.a. a start-up located in Gosselies (Belgium) and specializing in the development of proprietary and innovative methods to assess the immunogenicity of novel biotherapeutics and biosimilars has raised USD 1 million in equity and bank financing.
Expertise in immunogenicity
Unwanted Immunogenicity is a known characteristic and side effect of biotherapeutics, where patients build an immune response against the drug they receive during their treatment. In most cases, this simply results in drug inactivity in the patient, but in some cases it causes adverse and severe side effects. As such, the “ex ante” risk assessment of drugs is part of any drug discovery project. This is the area where ImmunXperts provides its expertise.
A leading position thanks to a fully integrated approach…
Founded in 2014 by Arno Kromminga, Sofie Pattijn and Philippe Stas, ImmunXperts is the first service provider to operate each aspect of immunogenicity throughout the drug discovery cycle. “We support our partners in the evaluation of new drug candidates with a solid experimental platform for drug testing and a network of experts. There are 3 to 5 companies in the world which are operating in the same technological area. The main difference is that they only focus on certain stages of the drug testing cycle while we offer a fully integrated approach (from early development to post marketing surveillance). This is what makes ImmunXperts a front runner in the immunogenicity service providing sector”, says Sofie Pattijn, co-founder and Chief Technological Officer of the company.
… that was made possible by a strong local technological ecosystem
We have chosen Wallonia, and Gosselies in particular, mostly for the strong focus that this region puts on immunotherapy, biotechnology and biotherapeutics.
ImmunXperts is working with partners in Germany, Denmark, France, the Netherlands and the UK. The company could have settled in any region of Europe but, just like Pluriomics, ImmunXperts chose Wallonia to launch its activities. “We have chosen Wallonia, and Gosselies in particular, mostly for the strong focus that this region puts on immunotherapy, biotechnology and biotherapeutics. We were also interested in joining a local network where companies are willing to work together and pool their expertise to bring innovative solutions. For example, we have a very good partnership with ImmuneHealth which made its laboratory available to us. This collaboration enabled us to start our activity quite quickly without spending too much money, which was also a real asset when we decided to attract investors”, explains the CTO.
Mixing equity and bank financing, the best solution
From a financing perspective, the proceeds provided by the founders of the company were complemented by additional and equally provided equity funds by Sambrinvest and Invest4Immune (i.e. a group of private investors led by François Blondel and Philippe Janssens). In total, USD 1 million was raised. “It took approximately nine months to launch ImmunXperts and to find some funding to support our growth strategy. Immune4Heatlh and Sambrinvest were quickly involved in the round. Our objective was to raise enough money to become a profitable company without diluting our capital. But to do so, we had to prove our investors that we were able to ensure their return on investment by generating a significant turnover in the short run. In this sense, the commitment of ING is a very positive signal for the sector, showing that the bank is keen on supporting young companies that are not yet profitable, to contribute to the economic development of the region. Last but not least, Wallonia Biotech Coaching (WBC) also us for material and biomaterial issues, which is much appreciated”, says Sofie Pattijn.
Market and strategy
ImmunXperts aims at becoming (and remaining) leader of the global immunogenicity service providing market. To achieve this goal, the company will have to strengthen its expertise in regulatory issues (through partnerships and the hire of new employees) but also to raise its visibility at the international scale. ImmunXperts provides support to a wide range of customers, from large pharma and SMEs to small or virtual companies which are developing new molecules or entering the clinic. Deals have already been signed and the company does not plan to raise more money but they would like to maybe build its own laboratory one day. To be continued…
Co-Founder & Chief Technological Officer