The University of Copenhagen is the first Danish university to invest in a company based on its own research in unique collaboration with a venture fund.
On April 11th 2023, the company GutCRINE ApS received an initial financing of 4 million DKK to begin development of a completely new class of biological medicines, so-called pharmabiotics. The expectation is that the drugs will be able to prevent and treat diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinsonism. The investment comes from the two entities Eir Ventures and the University of Copenhagen’s newly established investment company UCPH Ventures.
GutCRINE is a spinout company from Copenhagen Science City-partner University of Copenhagen and is based on pioneering research into the intestinal community of billions of bacteria. The so-called gut microbiome. Professor Oluf Borbye Pedersen, together with assistant professor Yong Fan at the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Health and Medical Sciences, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research has mapped bacteria in the human gut which produce hormones that go into the bloodstream and regulate metabolism and brain activity.
Theirs is the first discovery worldwide that the gut microbiome synthesizes hormones that influence human biology. With their company GutCRINE they hope to develop a completely new class of medications called pharmabiotics. If successful, this will be a paradigm shift in the treatment of several chronic diseases.
“We have identified and characterized specific intestinal bacteria that surprisingly affect human health in previously unknown ways. This insight opens a highway that can lead to both the prevention and treatment of several frequent common non-communicable disorders,” says Oluf Borbye Pedersen, CSO GutCRINE ApS and professor, University of Copenhagen, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research.
The University’s newly established investment company UCPH Ventures
GutCRINE is the first University of Copenhagen spinout to receive funding from the University’s newly established investment company UCPH Ventures. The initial investment was made in collaboration with the life science investor Eir Ventures.
“The University of Copenhagen is known for doing leading research. We also have a long history of helping researchers set up companies based on their research, but until now that help has consisted of business advice and legal assistance. We are proud that, as the first Danish university, we can also directly invest in a company that one of our researchers has spun off,” says David Dreyer Lassen, Pro-Rector for Research, University of Copenhagen and chairman, Copenhagen Science City development council.
Eir Ventures has been actively involved in the establishment of GutCRINE, and Tobias, Hornemans-Thielke, who is a partner in Eir Ventures, will be the managing director of the company. Eir Ventures co-founder, Stephan Christgau, is pleased to be able to establish this Seed investment together with UCPH Ventures.
“We are excited to participate in the first investment from the University of Copenhagen’s new investment company. The research Professor Oluf Borbye Pedersen and his team have carried out is of the highest scientific quality and has been for decades. Their insights are crucial for understanding the role of gut bacteria in human health. Original and innovative research like this is exactly what Eir Ventures is looking for when we support the establishment of new biotech companies,” says Stephan Christgau, Partner, Eir Ventures.
New innovation strategy
The University of Copenhagen adopted a new innovation strategy in early 2023. An important element is to support researchers who want to turn their research into new companies. For example, via closer cooperation with private investors.
Photo: University of Copenhagen/Jens Fink-Jensen