The protein engineering company Biomatter Designs, founded by the alumni of Vilnius University (VU), has raised €500,000 in seed funding led by Practica Capital, accompanied by 70V and angel investors. The raised capital will be used to further develop the company's protein design technology and product pipeline.
To accelerate the burdensome and resource-intensive process of protein engineering, Biomatter Designs has developed a machine learning powered platform for next-generation computational protein design. The platform analyses vast amounts of natural protein data to learn the complex rules governing the functions of proteins and later applies the acquired knowledge to design new protein molecules.
“Our company is striving to shift the paradigm in protein engineering”, Laurynas Karpus, the CEO of Biomatter Designs says. “We are moving from classical protein discovery process to well-predictable computational protein design. Classical methods often resemble searching for a needle in the haystack - looking for the right answer in already existing or similar molecules. This takes a great amount of time and requires loads of expensive and time-consuming experimental data. This is where our technology steps in to intelligently augment the protein engineering process, allowing us to generate new proteins right from the first atom. When it comes to solving problems in healthcare or environmental sectors, we can’t afford to waste time.”
VU vice-rector for research Prof Edita Sužiedėlienė is pleased with the investment attracted by Biomatter Designs and says that one of the goals of the University is to encourage the entrepreneurship of students and researchers.
“Beside ongoing studies and research activities, an important part of the University’s strategy is also science-based innovative solutions for society and business. Applying knowledge accumulated at the University as well as technology in existing companies, the establishment of new innovative companies to commercialise science-based ideas are just a few forms of knowledge commercialisation. New innovative companies, originating from the University environment, have great potential to produce high value-added products and services, thus contributing to the transformation of the Lithuanian economy in its effort to change from a traditional industry into a knowledge-based economy with the perspective of generating a long-term return.
It is great that the activities of Biomatter Designs have been recognised and appreciated by investors. For a start-up, investing means more opportunities to grow and expand. It is also good news for the University community, meaning that the ideas developed by University researchers and students are relevant to solving the current problems of society and business and have the potential for applicability. So, by further developing ideas based on scientific knowledge together with the business or establishing innovative companies makes these ideas available to every consumer,” Prof Sužiedėlienė suggests.
In 2017-2018, the founders of Biomatter Designs participated in the international synthetic biology competition iGEM in Boston (USA) and had won its main prize.
Biomatter Designs is one of more than twenty innovative companies of Vilnius University. The founders of the company link its origins to the University. In 2019, VU start-ups generated a turnover of over EUR 5 million. These companies employ more than 170 employees.