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Four young Nordic life science entrepreneurs wins prestigious award

Evelina Vågesjö, Hans Genee, Lauri Sippola and Erik Gatenholm have all been recognized by MIT Technology Review European Innovators under 35.

These Innovators Under 35 Europe 2019 have been selected by the jury from more than 1,000 candidates. Among the winners there are different profiles, from researchers to entrepreneurs, and all are developing new projects that will change all areas of society and business, as well as our ways of working, learning, curing, manufacturing or communicating. The 35 innovators are enclosed in different categories of the competition: entrepreneurs, humanitarian, pioneers, visionaries, and inventors.

Evelina Vågesjö

“She creates “living” drugs based on harmless bacteria to accelerate tissue regeneration and healing,” describes the jury. Evelina Vågesjö is the co-founder and CEO of Swedish Ilya Pharma.

“Putting millions of bacteria in contact with an open wound may seem, at first glance, the worst of ideas. However, this is exactly what researcher and entrepreneur Evelina Vågesjö proposes, in order to treat quickly and efficiently, some of the most dangerous wounds that bring patients and doctors face to face. The proposal of this young woman, founder of the biomedical company Ilya Pharma, spin-off of the University of Uppsala (Sweden), is to turn these microorganisms into allies in the regeneration of damaged tissue. In particular, she proposes to use them to transport therapeutic substances that help rebuild damaged skin and mucous membranes to the point where they are needed and, once there, promote their effectiveness as much as possible,” describes Elena Zafra/MIT Technology Review.

Researcher at the Reina Sofia-IMIBIC University Hospital (Spain) and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital at Harvard Medical School (USA), as well as member of the Innovators Under 35 Europe 2019 jury, Miguel González-Andrades, states that this project stands out for its innovative character. For this judge, this is also supported by the “several publications in high-impact journals within the sector,” and for the fact that it focuses on “a well-defined clinical application.” According to González-Andrades, Vågesjö’s “excellent” scientific and business training “ensures the success of the project.”

Hans Genee

“His “synthetic selections” allows for the production of vitamins in a sustainable, efficient, and biological fashion,” describes the jury. Hans Genee is the founder of BioSynthia.

“Biotechnologist, Hans Genee, sees microbial fermentation as a highly promising approach to biologically obtaining the vitamins and antioxidants needed in future diets. Bacteria become factories that generate this type of molecules without the intervention of petrochemicals and at a more competitive cost. Nevertheless, getting them to do so efficiently remains a challenge as the internal mechanisms of the cells associated with fermentation are not fully understood,” describes José Manuel Blanco and Elena Zafra/MIT Technology Review.

Rodomiro Ortiz, Professor of Genetics at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and member of the jury for Innovators Under 35 Europe 2019, highlights Genee’s mix of “academic knowledge and entrepreneurial skills to build a start-up and raise 10 million euros in order to devote himself to a technological innovation. If this succeeds not only will it bring profits for the company, but also benefits for the world.”

Lauri Sippola

“His platform monitors treatment of cancer patients to anticipate symptoms and personalize the process,” describes the jury. Lauri Sippola is the founder and CEO of Kaiku Health.

Kaiku’s algorithms monitor treatments for over 25 different types of cancer. With the data it collects and processes through machine learning, the platform predicts the evolution of treatments. “The oncologist has the information of what could happen next and in this way supports and instructs the patient in a more personalized way. This methodical digital monitoring has helped patients better understand their own situation and progress and thus be more informed,” explains Sippola.

Livindas Oy’s CEO and member of the Innovators Under 35 Europe 2019 jury, Tiina Hynninen, believes that the technology, already being used in more than sixty European hospitals, “is an excellent demonstration of the need for and success of a monitoring platform for cancer patients,” describes José Manuel Blanco/MIT Technology Review

Erik Gatenholm

“His products could accelerate the development of 3D printing of human organs and tissues for transplants and medical research,” describes the jury. Erik Gatenholm is the co-founder and CEO of Cellink.

According to the company’s calculations, Cellink products are already present in more than 700 laboratories around the world. Gatenholm emphasizes: “We are trying to minimize or limit the use of animals in research,” as well as trying to reduce the time it takes to obtain new medications.

Rafa Luque, Professor at the University of Cordoba, Spain, and member of the Innovators Under 25 Europe 2019 jury, highlights the businessman’s “entrepreneurial soul combined with his very intelligent approach in one of the most promising topics of the future (3D bioprinting for transplants),” describes José Manuel Blanco/MIT Technology Review.

From left to right: Evelina Vågesjö (Photo Martina Sjaunja), Lauri Sippola, Hans Genee and Erik Gatenholm (Photo levon Biss/Forbes)