Swedish EnginZyme has announced a Series A investment of 6.4 million EUR led by Sofinnova Partners.
The funds will be used to accelerate the development of the company’s technology platform and take its first internal production process to pilot, it states.
A cell-free synthetic biology platform
The chemistry industry has a central role to play in the mitigation of climate change, before 2050 it needs to cut its own emissions by half, while at the same time quadrupling production to meet the needs of the world’s growing population.
EnginZyme has developed a cell-free synthetic biology platform that can provide R&D services to companies in multiple industries, including the pharma industry. The technology platform combines the breadth and power of nature (enzymatic cascades) with the efficiency of the chemical industry (packed bed reactors) in a best-of-both-worlds technical solution, the company states.
“When it comes to the pharma industry, for active pharmaceutical substances there are many advantages with our technology.”
“When it comes to the pharma industry, for active pharmaceutical substances there are many advantages with our technology. For example, pharmaceuticals are often complex molecules that demand an advanced synthesis in several steps, which produces a lot of waste. But by using enzymes in combination with flow chemistry (our technology) there are less steps, the amount of waste is decreased and the manufacturing process becomes simpler, cheaper and more environmentally friendly,” describes Dr. Karim Engelmark Cassimjee, CEO and co-founder of EnginZyme to Nordic Life Science.
The long-term aim is to make its cell-free synbio platform the foundation upon which the future chemical industry rests.
“It has long been recognized that if we could effectively access nature’s full palette of molecules, we could solve many of the world’s most pressing problems,” says Engelmark Cassimjee. “There’s just so much more you can do with biological systems than with traditional catalysts and petroleum-based building blocks. But the key word here is ‘effectively’ — it needs to be as cheap and easy to scale as the chemical solutions we’ve used for more than a century now. We’re the first company to truly address that and by doing so we are building foundational technology for an entire future industry.”
Not only financial support
“Sofinnova Partners brings a deep industrial experience, which makes them the perfect partner for us,” says Engelmark Cassimjee. “This is a complex field, so it is important to have investors that can provide not only the financial support but also strategic guidance. With over a decade of experience investing in industrial biotechnology, there are few investors as well placed as Sofinnova Partners to bring this domain expertise to the table.”
The company has also announced that Michael Krel, Partner of the Sofinnova Industrial Biotech Fund, will join EnginZyme’s Board of Directors.
“There’s never been a more important time to provide solid, long-term support to pioneering companies in industrial biotechnology,” says Michael Krel, Partner of the Sofinnova Industrial Biotech Fund. “We strongly believe in EnginZyme’s outstanding team and the potential of its technology to join the power of biology with the efficiency of chemical engineering to bring us towards a more sustainable future.”
A leader within synthetic biology
Right now, EnginZyme is focusing on developing its own production processes and the possibilities are many, says Engelmark Cassimjee. “Our vision is to become a leader in the transition that the chemistry industry needs to go through in order to meet the demands of the future. The competition therefore consists of many parts, process development companies, companies that manufacture chemical catalysts and pharmaceutical intermediates, etc.”
Within five years he sees his company as the leading company within synthetic biology, with a number of implemented manufacturing processes for products in several different market segments.
Synthetic biology is the design and construction of new biological parts, devices, and systems, and the re-design of existing, natural biological systems for useful purpose (Nature). The field is hot, with many investors and entrepreneurs making comparisons to the dawn of the computer age, states EnginZyme. This is reflected in the almost $4 billion invested in it in 2018 (up 8x from 2014) and in the Chemistry Nobel Prize awarded to Processor Frances Arnold in the same year for her work on enzymes.
Read also: Exclusive interview with Frances H. Arnold, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry 2018