ExCulture wins Venture Challenge Spring 2023!

The winner of the Venture Challenge was announced today at the Dutch Biotech Event. The proud winner of the 2023 spring edition is ExCulture! The innovative startup ExCulture has developed a proprietary, natural, mixed-culture fermentation bioprocess to produce the world’s most commonly used blood thinner, heparin.

According to the jury, comprised of Carine van den Brink, Sterre Witteveen, Inez de Greef-van der Sandt, Rob de Ree en Brigitte Drees, choosing a winner was a very tough decision. The participating teams all had such high quality pitches, which made it almost impossible to choose only one winner.

The jury finds that ExCulture is addressing a real need as heparin has been on the FDA drug shortage list since 2017 due to the fact that it is produced as a by-product of pig slaughter which can no longer meet global supply demand. They have a clear value proposition on which they can expand in the future.

Opposed to the current heparin production method, ExCulture’s technology has the potential to ensure supply security, reduce risk of contamination and remove dependency on animal material. Moreover, it differentiates from the emerging synthetic methods for its capacity to be readily scalable.

The initial proof of concept studies showed comparability between ExCulture’s heparin compound and commercial heparin. In the coming months they will carry out biosimilarity and safety studies in compliance with the Pharmacopoeia heparin monograph.


“The venture challenge was a very beneficial programme for us. We sharpened our focus to identify our unique selling points. It enabled us to view crucial aspects from a different and critical perspective. Alongside learning from seasoned professionals, much value was added by our fellow participants. It’s our mission now to execute our venture plan and make ExCulture a success.”

- Aisling Foley and Ilaria Poledri, founders of ExCulture


The Venture Challenge Spring started in April and today at the Dutch Biotech Event ExCulture takes home the €25.000 prize money to invest in their growth. Contact Aisling Foley for more information about ExCulture.

The other highly-motivated participating teams were: Invision-Ex, Pneoo Tx, Saturn, Sencilia and Spatium Medical. As mentioned before, it was extremely hard for the jury to pick one winner out of all of these outstanding teams. Keep an eye on them!

Participating in the Venture Challenge leads to a clear venture plan, as well as to investor-ready pitches. The  LifeSciences@Work Accelerator  is powered by  Health~Holland, Top Sector Life Sciences & Health. 

Our specialised coaching focuses on developing your initial idea into a solid business during a series of boot camps and 1-on-1 coaching and mentoring sessions. Startup teams learn to identify key risks, analyse customer value propositions, develop a validation strategy, learn to build a venture plan and, ultimately, get connected to Life Sciences experts, investors and seasoned entrepreneurs. Read moreLifeSciences@Work: The national accelerator for high potential Life Sciences start-up initiatives. We help scientists build their business. We offer activities designed for researchers with entrepreneurial aspirations as well as for life sciences startups. LS@W is powered by Health~Holland | Top Sector Life Sciences & Health. Contact us.

Want to participate in the next venture challenge? Click here for more information.


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