On February 11th, we co-organised a webinar on health and biotechnology in Atlantic France with the healthcare cluster Atlanpole Biotherapies and Nantes Saint-Nazaire Développement. The occasion for the biotech companies Goliver Therapeutics, Naobios and Owkin to share their inspiring success stories.
Goliver Therapeutics: cell-based regenerative medicine for liver transplantations
Tuan Huy Nguyen is the CEO of the startup Goliver Therapeutics. He spent more than 10 years in Atlantic France (INSERM / University of Nantes) doing research on liver diseases which are responsible for over 2 million annual deaths worldwide.
With the financial support of the European Union, he created Goliver Therapeutics in 2017 to implement this academic research in biotech. The company develops innovative cell-based Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMP) to improve liver transplantations. Breakthrough technology in regenerative medicine which needed the right soil to flourish.
In Nantes, there is a real dynamic in academic research. People are open-minded and keen to work together. The biotech economic environment in Atlantic France allows startups to convert academic research into products adapted to the market, and there is strong support from Atlanpole and other organisations for the promotion of scientific research. It is also important for us to have local facilities to produce GMP* cells: that means we can stay here when the startup grows.Tuan Huy Nguyen, CEO of Goliver Therapeutics
Naobios: manufacturing viruses and cells for clinical trials
Naobios is a Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization (CDMO) which specialises in developing, manufacturing and testing viral vaccines and viral vector candidates. As subsidiary of the group Clean Biologics since 2019, the company relies on 40 people and has a vast knowledge of the manufacturing of cell and virus banks.
Naobios works for customers from all over the world (in Europe, the US and Asia). The company has expertise in upstream and downstream process development and can manufacture GMP batches for phase 1 and 2 clinical trials. It also has its own quality control laboratory.
In Atlantic France, we can rely on quality training with a good mix of talents. First with the veterinary medicine school Oniris – we have a lot of engineers coming from there – and the University of Nantes which has a speciality dedicated to innovative therapies, but also with good schools to train technicians. There is also a strong network of health research laboratories and local capacities to manufacture cellular therapies. Last but not least, Nantes is a city offering an excellent quality of life and with easy access from a logistical standpoint.Éric Le Forestier, Managing Director of Naobios
Owkin: machine learning to accelerate medical research
Owkin is a fast-growing startup which uses AI and data provided by hospitals and pharmaceutical companies in order to create medical knowledge in the field of oncology. The company opened an office in Atlantic France in 2018, only a few months after its creation, and recently raised $18 million in funding.
Our first motivation was to find a place offering a good quality of life to our employees. We were looking for cities not too far from Paris and not too big but very dynamic, and Nantes appeared to be the best solution. We also wanted to be close to the Nantes University Hospital Center which is very dynamic and open to innovations. We found a very welcoming environment, and the Nantes Saint-Nazaire Développement agency helped us to discover the ecosystem, find an office and relocate our employees. We have offices in New-York, Paris, London and Nantes… and I think that in Nantes we are by far the luckiest! We can go to work walking or cycling and benefit from an excellent quality of life. This allows us to attract key talents, and in particular senior software engineers and data scientists.Camille Marini, Chief Technical Officer of Owkin
* Good Manufacturing Practice