The Incubator helps cancer companies grow, led by Janne Nestvold, COO, and Ketil Widerberg, CEO & Chairman. Photo: Wenche Gerhardsen / Oslo Cancer Cluster

Cancer incubator secures further financing

SIVA continues backing our Incubator so we can help cancer start-ups succeed

Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator has been awarded NOK 3,5 million to continue supporting cancer innovators during 2023. The funds come from SIVA, a governmental enterprise facilitating a national infrastructure for innovation.

Why are these funds important? Well, the road is long from a promising innovation is born until it becomes a solution that improves patients’ lives. An innovator often needs support to make their idea into a commercial product.

Precision therapy against cancer

This was the case with Kongsberg Beam Technology, founded by Per Håvard Kleven who had invented a digital solution to improve proton therapy, based on expertise from the Kongsberg defence industry.

The company was admitted into the Accelerator programme at Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator in 2019. The incubator team worked closely with the company and helped with everything from setting up a business plan, developing a company strategy and recruiting management, to attracting the company’s first investors.

Kerstin Johansson, CEO of Kongsberg Beam Technology, one of the companies in the Incubator that has received help from SIVA.

“If it wasn’t for Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator, Kongsberg Beam Technology wouldn’t be where we are today.”

“If it wasn’t for Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator, Kongsberg Beam Technology wouldn’t be where we are today. From being a one-man company, we have grown to a semi-virtual company with a mix of employees and CRO/service companies with key competences for the road to commercialise our product MaMa-K. To date we have attracted NOK 50,4 million in private investments and public funding. We strongly believe that with our solution, MaMa-K software intended for radiation therapy the clinical benefits will be significantly better and cancer patients will have a much better life with less side effects after the treatment,” said Kerstin Jakobsson, CEO of Kongsberg Beam Technology.

A melting pot for innovation

Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator is the only cancer incubator among the total 35 companies accepted into the SIVA’s new ten-year Incubator programme starting 2023. The Incubator offers business development services, state-of-the-art laboratories, and access to a global cancer community.

Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator have state-of-the-art labs that are shared between academics and private companies. Photo: Christopher Olssøn

A multitude of languages can be heard between the international researchers as you walk down the hallways. When peering into the labs, you see academics working side-by-side with private companies. This is a true melting pot for health innovation.

“Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator is uniquely situated next to Oslo University Hospital and can provide the network in oncology that early-stage companies in cancer need.”

“Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator is uniquely situated next to Oslo University Hospital and can provide the network in oncology that early-stage companies in cancer need. We are now expanding the Innovation Park to make room for more companies, who are in dire need of our facilities and expertise. This is good for the companies, it benefits the patients and adds value to Norwegian society,” said Ketil Widerberg, CEO and Chairman of Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator.

The Incubator is situated in Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park, right next to the Cancer Research Institute and a stone’s throw away from the Oslo University Hospital (a Comprehensive Cancer Centre). Photo: Christian Tandberg

Janne Nestvold, COO i Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator, deltok på Biostock Life Science Fall Summit 2022 i Lund, der tre av Incubatorns selskaper presenterte. Foto: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen

Presenterte på svensk investorkonferanse

Please note. This article is only in Norwegian. A longer article in English will be published shortly.

Tre av Oslo Cancer Cluster Inkubator sine selskaper, Kongsberg Beam Technology, AdjuTec Pharma og Thelper, presenterte i går og i dag seg på den svenske investorkonferansen «Biostock Life Science Fall Summit 2022».

I tillegg presenterte Oslo Cancer Cluster-medlem Ultimovacs seg.

Konferansen gikk av stabelen i Lund og var fullbooket. Gjennom to dager har selskaper og investorer satt hverandre i stevne, der en majoritet av svenske selskaper har vist seg fram for investorer fra både Sverige og Danmark.

Inkubator-selskapene har fått tilgang til å delta her gjennom et nylig etablert samarbeid mellom inkubatoren og BioStock, som er et svensk, digitalt nyhets- og analyseselskap fokusert på selskaper innen livsvitenskapssektoren.

Fra Oslo Cancer Cluster Inkubator har COO Janne Nestvold og Senior Advisor Business Development Thomas Andersson deltatt.

•Kongsberg Beam Technology ble presentert av CEO Kerstin Jakobsson. Selskapet utvikler neste-generasjons protonterapi ved å persontilpasse behandlingen til hver enkelt pasient.

Kongsberg Beam Technology ble presentert av CEO Kerstin Jakobsson. Selskapet utvikler neste-generasjons protonterapi ved å persontilpasse behandlingen til hver enkelt pasient. Foto: Thomas Andersson

Besøk nettsidene til Kongsberg Beam Technology

AdjuTec Pharma ble presentert av CEO Bjørn Klem. Selskapet utvikler antibiotika-produkter mot multiresistente infeksjoner.

AdjuTec Pharma ble presentert av CEO Bjørn Klem. Selskapet utvikler antibiotika-produkter mot multiresistente infeksjoner. Foto: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen

Besøk nettsidene til AdjuTec Pharma

Thelper ble presentert av CEO Katja Vetvik. Selskapet utvikler anti-viral immunterapibehandling av solide svulster.

Thelper ble presentert av CEO Katja Vetvik. Selskapet utvikler anti-viral immunterapibehandling av solide svulster. Foto: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen

Besøk nettsidene til Thelper

Ultimovacs ble presentert av CEO Carlos De Sousa. Selskapet utvikler en universell kreftvaksine, UV1.

Rebel connects information technology- and software developers – and soon also companies working in the cancer field. They are located in the renovated Televerket building in Universitetsgata 2 in Oslo. All photos: Rebel

New collaboration with Rebel

Drone photo of a square at night.Rebel

Rebel and Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator start a collaboration to tighten the ties between cancer research and information technology.

The world of cancer treatments and the world of information technology sometimes seem far apart. A new collaboration between Rebel and Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator sets out to be beneficial to companies that inhabit both worlds – and to our society in general.

“Technology is about more than lines of code and gadgets. It is also about solving big societal challenges. This is an opportunity for us to contribute in one of the most important cases there is – cancer. Imagine how rewarding it is for tech heads to use their knowledge to improve diagnostics and cancer treatments,” said Peter Jetzel, Chief Rebel.

Rebel connects information technology- and software developers in the centre of Oslo. Since the hub opened last autumn, they have experienced that the need for technological competencies in Oslo is massive, also in the health sector and in companies that are traditionally considered biotech.

 

Man on hood of car - DeLorian

Peter Jetzel, Chief Rebel, on the hood of the DeLorian in one of the common areas in Rebel.

 

Technology is an important driver in the future of cancer treatments, as digitalisation changes how we understand and develop medicine,” said Ketil Widerberg, CEO at Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator.

 

Wonderful spaces

The emerging health industry in Norway is booming, and more space is needed as the main Oslo Cancer Cluster hub at Campus Radiumhospitalet develops. While the construction of a second part of Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park is under way, companies in Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator can find space and new partners at Rebel.

Rebel has offices, conference rooms, project rooms, studios, makers spaces and a software lab in the area of Tullin, in the middle of Oslo. These will be made available to companies in Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator.

 

A meeting room.

Some of the meeting rooms in the Rebel building come with a view.

 

A dynamic collaboration

The collaboration is dynamic and full of opportunities. There is room for projects, exchange of expert competencies, new establishments, and common arenas. The ambition is that the initiatives will grow from the grass, so to speak, on arenas that are made for knowledge sharing.

“To give the right treatment to the right patient at the right time, artificial intelligence will be central. To accelerate development of new cancer treatments, health data will be collected and analyzed in entirely new ways. In short, we need to think differently,» said Ketil Widerberg.

«Collaboration in clusters and collaborations between clusters are two sides of the same coin. Our two knowledge environments have different professional anchorages, but we are heading towards the same goal. We are starting this collaboration to find synergies and energy for mutual benefits,” said Peter Jetzel.

Rebekka Rolfsnes will be working at a lab at the Department of Pharmacy during her PhD, but in this photo, she and Pål Rongved are in one of Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator’s labs.

A PhD on antibiotic resistance

Two people at a lab, one in a white coat.OCC

Rebekka Rolfsnes is doing her PhD with the start-up AdjuTec Pharma AS and the Department of Pharmacy at the University of Oslo (UiO). Together, they will look for solutions to antibiotic resistance.

 

Rebekka Rolfsnes has a Master’s in molecular biology and will be starting her PhD next month. The subject is antibiotic resistance, and more accurately she will study the mechanism of action of one of AdjuTec Pharma’s new compounds, called APC247, on resistant enzymes, bacteria, and off-target effects in human cells. The PhD project is a result of a collaboration between the industry and the university.

Read more about the industry PhD scheme at UiO’s web pages.

A hope to save the world

When asked why she wanted to work with AdjuTec, Rebekka Rolfsnes said:

“Working with a start-up in this field is a unique opportunity to be part of something big all the way from start.”

“Besides, the combination of pharmacy and microbiology is the most intriguing I know,” she added.

Rolfsnes will be writing three articles that will cast new light on the global health problem of antibiotic resistance.

“This is the subject that is closest to my heart because it is a global challenge and there is a hope to save the world. Although it is also a very scary issue,” Rolfsnes admitted.

Win-win relationship

Professor Hanne Cecilie Winther-Larsen at the Department of Pharmacy, UiO, is Rolfsnes’ main PhD supervisor.

“This PhD project will meet one of the largest challenges our society is currently facing, antimicrobial resistance, and we are happy to be a part of it. In the early phase of this project, there are many questions to answer and experiments to perform, which we find scientifically interesting,” said Winther-Larsen.

Woman in lab coat at lab

Professor Hanne Cecilie Winther-Larsen, in the lab at the Department of Pharmacy, UiO.

The Department of Pharmacy offers both competence and the infrastructure to support a successful outcome for the project. Professor Winther-Larsen had no doubt:

“The mutual relationship between the industry and the university creates a win-win situation.”

 

The slow pandemic

Antibiotics are important for treating infections but also for prophylactic use during major surgery, cancer therapy, and for patients vulnerable to infections, such as patients on immunosuppressive drugs and catheterized patients. But after many years of successful treatment of bacterial infections, there has been an alarming increase of infections that are resistant to even last-resort antibiotics.

Pål Rongved, founder, project leader, and CSO in AdjuTec, and professor at UiO, put it this way:

“Antibiotic resistance is the slow pandemic. It is a steadily increasing threat.”

Antibiotic resistance, or antimicrobial multidrug resistance, is due to decades of overuse of antibiotics in agriculture and human medicine, and with few antibiotic innovations. This creates all kinds of problems in hospitals, where the presence of bacteria is high.

5 people in front of a modern building in sunshine

The entire Adjutec Pharma team in front of Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park. From the left: Pål Rongved, Bjørg Bolstad, Ragnar Hovland, Rebekka Rolfsnes and Bjørn Klem.

AdjuTec’s story

AdjuTec’s story started in 2009, when professor Pål Rongved and one of his PhD students at UiO, Alexander Åstrand, found a remarkable effect in their PhD project (which was a collaboration with The University Hospital of Northern Norway and the University of Tromsø).

The effect was this: A chemical compound that could inactivate bacterial resistance enzymes, thus preserving the effect of common antibiotics.

In 2019, Rongved established AdjuTec Pharma to commercialize his invention, which he called the ZinChel technology. The first drug candidate was called APC148 and targets one of two main resistance enzyme families, the metallo-beta-lactamases (MBLs). APC148 is the lead product of AdjuTec in preclinical development, planning for clinical trials in healthy volunteers next year.

AdjuTec has been heavily supported by the Norwegian Research Council (NRC) from the start, and with private investors also on board, the company can now develop its pharmaceutical projects and hire the right people. The company was recently awarded financial support from the City of Oslo, an industry innovation project (IPN) from NRC as well as Eurostars to kick-start the new APC247 preclinical program.

A new drug candidate

During the summer of 2021, AdjuTec designed a new substance that works on a broader spectrum of bacteria compared to APC148. This next-generation compound is called APC247. It is based on a different technology that shows promise in inhibiting both the main resistance families, the prior mentioned MBLs and the serine-beta-lactamases (SBLs).

Both AdjuTec products will be administered intravenously to patients in combination with antibiotics. If successful, and with various regulatory fast tracks, AdjuTec expects that the new drug candidate can be ready for market in five years.

Read more about AdjuTec and their progress on their homepage.