Overcoming the Valley of Death in Emerging Biotechs

Spain - December 14, 2016

Recently StemTek was selected by the European Commission Horizon 2020 SME Instrument for being one of the top innovative SMEs in its sector. Significantly, Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation program ever with nearly €80 billion of funding. By winning Phase I, StemTek will receive €50.000 in funding and is eligible to participate in Phase II for up to €2.5 million in funding and mentorship. With this funding our goal is to expand and ramp up scalable production of ready to use 3D cell culture kits for cancer stem cell oriented drug development.


Why is this so important?

The backbone of the EU industrial biotechnology sector is made up of large numbers of small and medium-sized businesses that play a crucial role in making the region competitive and sustainable when it comes to biotechnology-based processes. According to the European Commission’s Directorate General for Enterprise and Industry, the biotech industry in Europe spends nearly $7.32 billion in R&D and $23.2 billion in revenue. Around 20% of the total marketed medicines, and as much as 50% of all drugs that are in the pipeline, are all healthcare biotech products providing employment to approximately 95,000 people. To participate in the Horizon 2020 businesses are required to forecast potential growth impact with and without funding. Based on the Global Cell Market, for our particular industry, the impact is significant going from single digit growth to double, an increase of eight-fold.


Given the delicate financial climate in 2016 and significant political challenges in the EU and US, the biotech sector faces greater challenges down the road. Unsurprisingly, those that suffer the most from poor performance, political instability and lack of funding are not big pharma but the smaller, emerging biotechs. Characterized by research intensity and long lead times between early technological development and market introduction. Most emerging biotechs need to be supported to overcome the so-called “valley of death.”

Creating new anticancer drugs is a billion dollar investment, biotech companies like ours depend on support from both public and private investment to carry out our important work and build a long-term global growth strategy.

We are grateful for the support of the Horizon 2020 SME program and look forward to continued growth. Wish us luck in Phase 2! And reach out for any questions.


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