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Top European Biotech SMEs announced at 7th edition of EuropaBio Awards

Brussels, 27 September 2016 – A record breaking 41 companies from 13 countries applied for this year’s Most Innovative European Biotech SME awards. The initiative recognises highly innovative small and medium sized enterprises in Europe that have developed novel ways of meeting our societal, technical, and environmental problems through the application of biotechnology. During a high-level event among biotech CEOs, Robert Madelin (Senior Advisor for Innovation to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker) awarded Cellectis from France, Oxymem from Ireland and Plant Response Biotech from Spain as winners of the competition in the healthcare, industrial and agricultural biotech categories respectively.

[Quote] Tom Saylor, Chairman of the EuropaBio SME Platform: “European biotech companies are at the leading edge of innovation worldwide as represented by the winners and runners-up of this competition. However, our biotech SMEs continue to face a challenging environment in terms of finance, regulatory policy and legislative rules. It is, therefore, important to offer a platform for public recognition to demonstrate their outstanding work and benefits to society, and to recognise the importance of sound European policy and business environment for such enterprises to thrive.”

HEALTHCARE OR RED BIOTECH CATEGORY WINNER: CELLECTIS (FRANCE)

Cellectis is a French biopharmaceutical company developing adoptive immunotherapies for cancer. In order to address unmet medical needs, Cellectis is developing immunotherapies based on CAR T-cells. The specificity of those allogeneic therapies is that T-cells from healthy donors are genetically edited with the company’s proprietary technology TALEN®, to seek and destroy cancer cells. This approach could lead to a drug that would be cost-effective, easily distributed across all geographies and available to patients who don’t have enough T-cells to undergo an autologous CAR-T therapy (based on the patient’s own T-cells).

With top innovations and competitions scores, the runners-up in this category were:

  • Oryzon Genomics, a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company listed on the Spanish stock market leveraging epigenetics, to develop innovative therapies in oncology and neurodegenerative diseases.
  • TiGenix, an advanced biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Belgium (with operations in Spain) focus ing on developing and commercializing novel therapeutics from its proprietary platforms of allogeneic, or donor-derived, expanded stem cells.

INDUSTRIAL OR WHITE BIOTECH CATEGORY WINNER: OXYMEM (IRELAND)

OxyMem is an Irish industrial biotech company aiming to revolutionise biological aeration for industrial and municipal wastewater plants. Conventional wastewater treatment consumes large amounts of electricity due to its reliance over the last 100 years on bubble diffusion which will typically suffer energy losses of 65-70% in the process because of the oxygen transfer limitations in the bubble aeration process. OxyMem’s proprietary Membrane Aerated Biofilm Reactor does not have such limitations since it is not using bubbles to deliver oxygen, making it 75% more energy efficient. This enables OxyMem’s customers to build and operate energy efficient biological wastewater treatment plants and allowing them get closer to energy neutral wastewater treatment goals.

With top innovations and competitions scores, the runners-up in this category were:

  • Biosyntia, a Danish biotech start-up in synthetic biology and metabolic engineering which enables the production of complex chemical compounds by fermentation, reducing both production costs and environmental impact compared to other processes such as chemical synthesis.
  • MetGen, a Finnish biotech company developing cost-effective industrial enzymes that can easily be adopted to any required changes and parameters in industrial production.

AGRICULTURAL/GREEN BIOTECH CATEGORY WINNER: PLANT RESPONSE BIOTECH (SPAIN)

Plant Response Biotech is a Spanish green biotech company focused on searching for novel natural products that confer resistance and enhance plant responses to biotic and abiotic stress. With the aim of bridging the gap between early research and the market and bringing solutions to farmers in an efficient way, the company develops and commercializes products employed as preventive applications to crops. This approach enables a more sustainable crop production with minimum environmental impact by reducing chemical use, as well as other agricultural inputs which create residues.

Its innovative products and top scores from the jury make Plant Response Biotech the first agricultural biotech company to receive an award. This gives hope that Europe can still inspire innovative ideas in an area that has been so badly hit by a malfunctioning approval system.