NUIG spin-out company Orbsen Therapeutics produces stem cells that are more highly purified and more effective than those prepared using competing technology. The company has been helped as it develops by the team in the technology transfer office (TTO) at the university. The Ignite West TTO provided numerous early stage business supports from exploration of the broad technology concepts to accessing crucial business networks and providing incubation space. Ignite West TTO also linked the company with the best in field in terms of intellectual property and patenting supports, which was key to securing strong protection of the company’s proprietary technologies. This has enabled Orbsen to develop a lean and cost-effective start-up business model.
“We established Orbsen with the specific intention of developing new stem cell therapies that could potentially be used in a spectrum of different diseases,” said Professor Frank Barry of NUI Galway who, along with Professor Timothy O’Brien, founded the company. “NUI Galway has provided an outstanding environment for this enterprise to grow, with access to world-class research infrastructure and a critical and unique focus on advanced manufacturing, clean room technology and GMP [Good Manufacturing Practice] production. There is nowhere else in Ireland, and few places in Europe, where this type of translational commercial effort could take place,” said Barry.
“The Technology Transfer Office at NUI Galway has been an essential part of Orbsen’s commercial success and has provided a great deal of legal and commercial advice during the early stages of the company’s development. At the end of the day, everything depends on having access to people with the skills, expertise, energy and focus to get things done,” he said.
A strong patent portfolio has been key to establishing a proprietary position in the market for the company. “The university wants to see potential therapies advanced from the lab bench to the marketplace,” said Jacinta Thornton, Associate Director at Ignite West TTO. “Through the creation of Orbsen Therapeutics (in which NUIG holds equity), we have a company dedicated to that development pathway. Orbsen Therapeutics has been able to execute an IP strategy that has seen the rapid prosecution of its family of stromal stem cell patents from a priority filing in 2012 to a granted patent by the European Patent Office (EPO) in April 2015.”
Orbsen Therapeutics has scheduled four clinical trials with a fifth in the planning stages, partnering with NUI Galway and international academic and industry partners.
The company has been extremely successful in raising money from private investors and from highly competitive EU research programmes under both Framework 7 and Horizon 2020 and is in advanced commercial discussions with several global investors. It has grown from one full time employee in 2012 to a team of 15 at the end of 2015 with 30 collaborating researchers in the EU and US. The company has recently appointed internationally recognised surgeon and entrepreneur Dr. Jack Kavanaugh as Chairman of the Board. 2016 looks a promising year for Orbsen.