biotope by VIB, the incubator program by Flanders’ leading life sciences research institute, VIB, today announced the launch of its pre-seed venture fund ‘Biotope Ventures’. The venture fund is unique in its kind, providing investments to early-stage agrifood and health biotech startups to help them leap from concept to a viable business.
The fund will help biotech entrepreneurs to narrow the gap between science and practical applications by providing financing to de-risk their early innovations. VIB foresees that the combination will boost the Flanders-based biotech ecosystem with new participants and invites further private investors to join the effort.
In spring 2022, VIB launched the biotope incubator program to support up-and-coming entrepreneurs in life sciences. The program helps teams to rapidly advance their biotechnology, grow confidence, and turn their startup into an investment-ready business by offering them access to a stimulating life sciences ecosystem and one-on-one support.
In addition to the program, securing sufficient means through first investments is essential for advancing these novel technologies. The well-known pool of friends, family and fans can only invest so much, and startups are often faced with a ‘chicken or egg’ problem: the experimental testing of an innovation requires funding, but to attract this funding, entrepreneurs need to show de-risking data. Because of that, first investments are often the hardest to come by as investors seek robust evidence that innovations can be successfully developed and will generate business potential.
Accelerating biotech startups thanks to pre-seed venture capital
Going forward, that is where the new Biotope Ventures fund can play its role, complementary to the biotope incubator program. Through early investing, the fund will help local and international, promising biotech startups take root and grow in the flourishing biotech system.
The fund launched with a first close of 4,5 million EUR thanks to cornerstone investors PMV, AIF, BNP Paribas Fortis, The Nest Family Office, Quantum Biotech, Anacura, and VIB. Biotope Ventures will finance startups during the biotope incubator program to answer the financial challenges during the early days. The fund’s investments will concentrate on sustainable innovations positively impacting ‘people and planet’ through agriculture, food, and health. As a result, these investments will combine business success with a positive societal and environmental impact.
Annick Verween, biotope manager: “The strength of biotope lies in the combination of its high-quality biotech incubator program with a dedicated fund. The fund is backed by seasoned investors to support selected startups during the program. Throughout this journey, these investors will gain an ‘insider view’ on the growth of these startups and teams, offering a unique opportunity for investment in later financing rounds. We believe this is the best recipe to stimulate passionate biotech entrepreneurs with possibly disruptive concepts and enhance their success through smart financing.”
An ecosystem building on years of experience
VIB’s successful track record and international reputation in venture creation and ecosystem support was crucial for the confidence of Biotope Ventures’ investors. VIB’s legacy includes the creation of 35 private investor-backed startup companies, a long list of companies it helped establish in the region and an even longer list of business partners in biotech research projects. This culminated in its solid reputation in the investor community and partner network.
Jérôme Van Biervliet, Managing Director VIB, on behalf of the investors: “Young biotech startups may have great potential but are often hampered by a lack of financial, technical, and business support in the early days. Especially biotech entrepreneurs that are not backed by institutions like VIB feel this challenge acutely. Biotope ventures and the complementary biotope program will give the most driven entrepreneurs the ingredients to make a development leap, to build their business case and to tap into the biotope and VIB network for potential follow-up investors and partners. Our investors are convinced that this fund will strengthen our ecosystem and that the focus on sustainability and societal impact is urgent.”