VIB has a well-known track record in turning its own research into biotech start-ups. Through Biotope, VIB wants to prepare external teams with innovative ideas for them to become start-ups. According to Annick Verween, “Biotech start-ups not only need help in developing their business plans and entrepreneurial skills. Above all, they need access to infrastructure to develop their technology.”
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VIB launches Biotope, an agri-biotech incubator in Flanders
By strengthening both the business skills and technology of biotech start-ups, we want to transform ideas into investment-ready companies.
Since no science-based start-up is the same, the incubator only works with a small number of teams, offering each a tailor-made journey matching their specific challenges and strengths. “We are first focusing on start-ups in agri-food because this fast-moving sector faces many challenges," continues Annick Verween. “In a coming second phase, we will be aiming at start-ups active in healthcare.”
Through the incubator program, the selected teams will receive a year of personalized guidance from mentors – including international experts, biotech and research leaders and investors. They also get access to biotech infrastructure, such as labs and greenhouses – both from VIB and partner institutes. It’s the second program for biotech initiated by VIB in the past two years.
Since it was founded in 1996, VIB has already helped to establish 30 start-ups in Flanders – Biotalys, Ablynx and Aphea.Bio to name a few – which employ around 900 people in total. The Biotope incubator is a top asset for Flanders’ growing agri-tech cluster. It starts with a budget of EUR 3 million, funded by VIB, the city of Ghent, the government of Flanders and the European Union. The selected teams will each receive EUR 250,000.