From University to Industry: Success through Innovative Research and IP Protection

Name:Borean Pharma A/S
Country / Territory:Denmark
IP right(s):Patents, Trademarks
Date of publication:July 23, 2010
Last update:July 9, 2012

Background

Borean Pharma A/S (Borean) is a private biopharmaceutical and protein engineering company based in Aarhus, Denmark. The company was established with the objective of developing a new generation of pharmaceutical protein products. Borean’s competitive advantage lies in its proprietary technology, which enables it to develop a new generation of highly efficacious protein-based compounds with potential therapeutic applications.

Borean Pharma started as a university spin-off project; the founders of Borean – Hans Christian Thøgersen and Michael Etzerodt – developed the technological platform of their science-based company in the Laboratory for Gene Expression at the University of Aarhus. A number of research projects relating to the structure and function of modular proteins were initiated from this laboratory.

In 1993, the founders, in cooperation with Cheminova A/S Denmark, commercialized the first established elements from Borean’s technology platform. Together with Cheminova, they established the first spin-off company, Denzyme ApS, which was later developed and acquired by Cambridge Antibody Technology Ltd., a British firm. In 2001, the founders, their counterpart in Cambridge and the pre/seed-investor NOVI A/S agreed to unite all the elements of the technology platform of Borean Pharma to jointly endeavor to raise venture capital for the establishment of a biotechnological company.

Research and Development

Borean has now embarked on a mission to create the next generation of protein-based pharmaceuticals to combat major human diseases. Its scientific research aims at developing therapeutic protein products which may replace or supersede antibody products in pharmaceutical applications.  In early 1990s the company came up with a revolutionary idea of folding and unfolding proteins until they take a desired shape that can be used for therapeutic purposes.

Borean is aiming at achieving the optimal utilization of its competitive position through the establishment of selected strategic partnerships with pharmaceutical companies for specific products, which at the outset are expected to be within the cancer therapy area. The new generation of pharmaceutical protein products represents a considerable potential as these products, in the long term, are expected to be the successors of the antibody-based technology that currently constitutes the basis for the majority of the pharmaceutical protein products presently under clinical development.

Financing

The Danish Invention Center supported the scientists from 1997 until the actual spin-off in 2001. During this period, the Center provided financial support and guidance on drafting the business plan, gathering market information and identifying investors. The firm has been backed by an investment syndicate consisting of Forbion Capital Partners, Aravis Venture, BankInvest Biomedical Venture, East-Jutland Innovation, INCUBA Venture and NOVI. Other investors include Cambridge Antibody Technology, Ltd., Aarhus University and the founders themselves. Borean successfully raised venture capital amounting to 10.7 million Euros in 2001, and a total of 5.5 million Euros in a series of equity financing in 2005.

Patents and Trademarks

Borean’s initial patent applications were filed with the assistance of the Danish Invention Center, financed by the Danish Ministry of Trade and Industry. The company holds a number of pending patents and international patent applications. It has also filed a patent application with the USPTO. The trademarks of the Borean Pharma word and logo are also protected in many countries including the United States.

Partnerships

The management of Borean focuses on strategic partnerships with selected firms for different aspects of its operations, including financing, research and product development. To ensure the optimal utilization of its competitive position, Borean has been seeking partnerships with other pharmaceutical companies, particularly those working in cancer therapy. In 2007, Borean concluded an agreement with Eden Biodesign Ltd., an expert provider of development and manufacturing services for new biopharmaceutical medicines, under which Eden will manufacture MBP-DC-SIGN, a novel therapeutic candidate for the treatment of a range of cancers, for Borean to use in key preclinical studies. 

Business Results

Borean has established its potential as a strong and reliable player in the global biomedical market within the relatively short history of the company. Borean’s new generation of pharmaceutical protein products possess huge potential and are expected to be the successors of the antibody-based technology that currently constitutes the basis for the majority of pharmaceutical protein products.

Future products of Borean are expected to achieve a strong position in the marketplace, as they represent next-generation products, succeeding many therapeutic antibodies which are facing logistic and commercial barriers such as scarce production capacity, high development and production costs and inherently low design flexibility of the antibody framework. The company believes that it can unleash the true potential of biopharmaceuticals by providing efficacious and cost-effective protein-based antibody analogues.

The sustained growth of the company has been reflected in its organizational structure. Starting as a small, university spin-off, Borean now has a well-structured management and about 30 staff members. Borean currently occupies approximately 1,500 square meters of laboratories and offices. The facilities include fully equipped and classified laboratories for molecular biology, fermentation and cell culture facilities, protein purification and characterization.

From University to Industry: Success through Innovative Research and IP Protection

Two key factors played the crucial role behind the success of Borean. The firm’s competitive advantage comes from its innovative research work leading to its current proprietary and technological position. At the same time, in order to secure value addition, Borean is highly focused on protecting its IP. These two factors have enabled Borean to develop a new generation of highly efficacious compounds and antibody analogues with strong market potential.