Movax Biopharma wins 35.000 AtlasInvest Entrepreneurship Grant
Start-ups that win an AtlasInvest Entrepreneurship Grant can use the money to set up their own lab or expand their business, for example. For many start-ups, the Grant is the extra push they need to take their business to the next level.
The University Fund Wageningen awarded the AtlasInvest Entrepreneurship Grant for the fourth time this year. The Grant is awarded to sustainable start-ups with a commercially promising or socially impactful idea. There were two prizes to be won: the Start-Up Award and the Impact Award. On 10 February, this year’s 5 finalists pitched their start-up to a panel of experts and businesses. Movax Biopharma won the Start-Up award and with that the 35.000 euro prize.
Movax Biopharma was founded by Christian Südfeld. The genetic engineer and his team participated in the Fall 2023 edition of the Venture Challenge. The Movax team strengthened their businessplan around microalgae as a new option for producing and delivering vaccines.
Infectious disease outbreaks can seriously derail the health and economy of our society, as the COVID pandemic has shown. Prevention and control of these outbreaks require effective vaccines that can be produced quickly, at low cost, at large scale, and that are easy to distribute and use. Finalist for the Start-Up Award MoVax Biopharma has risen to this challenge and develops oral vaccines in the form of a pill. However, one thing must be taken into account with using a pill: the active substances must survive the strong stomach acid before they can be absorbed in the intestine.
For this, founder Christian Südfeld relies on the innate ability of microalgae to withstand degradation in the stomach and deliver drugs to the intestine. “Microalgae are promising vehicles for oral drug delivery but it has been challenging to turn them into a vaccination platform. Our innovative genetic engineering technology allows us to make microalgae that resemble any pathogen at the molecular level. While these engineered microalgae are perfectly safe for consumption, they trick the intestinal immune system into producing antibodies against the chosen pathogen. With the Atlast Invest Entrepreneurship Grant prize money we will finance a proof of concept study to show that our microalgal vaccines are not only safe but also generate a protective immune response.”
Movax Biopharmaceuticals participated in the Venture Challenge in the fall of 2023. The hard work they put in developing their businessplan then is already paying off! We're very curious to see what the results of their proof of concept study will be.