As a part of our SLAS Europe 2022 protection, we converse to Héctor Martínez, CTO of BICO, in regards to the know-how and companies they provide inside life sciences analysis and the way they’re utilizing science to cut back organ shortages and additional human well being.
Please are you able to introduce your self and inform us what impressed your profession into the life sciences?
I’m Héctor Martínez, CTO and co-founder of BICO. My background is in engineering. I like engineering, and I got here into the sector many, a few years in the past. I got here into the biomed area about 12 years in the past and fell in love with the alternatives and potentialities. My co-founder, Erik Gatenholm, and I based BICO collectively six years in the past.
You are at the moment the CTO of BICO, an organization consisting of 14 subsidiaries protecting numerous areas of life sciences. Can you inform us extra about why BICO was based and what a few of your core values are?
BICO was based with the imaginative and prescient of decreasing the organ scarcity interval. We noticed that we may make a contribution in that area. We are very dedicated to that imaginative and prescient. We are additionally very a lot dedicated to decreasing or rushing up drug growth. Right now, the cycles of growing a drug are just too lengthy. We consider we are able to make a distinction, and we’re enthusiastic about contributing to that.
This is one thing that might be completed in our lifetimes, which is the type of purpose or mission I need to be a part of: I need to dedicate my life to one thing greater than myself.
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At BICO, you additionally give attention to combining a number of areas of science akin to synthetic intelligence (AI) and genomics to additional human well being. How vital is taking a multidisciplinary strategy to analysis? What benefits does this have?
It has been on the core of what we do. Throughout BICO, in case you have a look at each single one of many firms now we have, it’s all a mix of physics and biology. It is both a mix of synthetic intelligence with biology or a mix of fabric sciences with biology. Using know-how or engineering robotics for an software in biology is one other manner wherein fields could be mixed.
Though, after all, every area may be very thrilling in itself, we select to mix the 2 as a result of we all know that there’s a lot of area that’s open to innovation. As an organization with shut to 1300 colleagues, we all know we are able to make an amazing impression by specializing in these intersections.
We love working on the intersections, and significantly the intersection the place biology meets know-how is a dynamic and thrilling space to be in.
CELLINK, a BICO firm launched in 2016, is answerable for creating the world’s first common bioink. How did you create this bioink, and the way did its creation lead to breakthroughs in numerous analysis areas, together with drug growth and tissue engineering?
That is a really thrilling story, as that was our first product. When Eric and I began the corporate, we had this imaginative and prescient of decreasing the organ scarcity, and we thought that bioprinting was an amazing device and the know-how may very well be used for that.
In 2016, after we launched this product to the market, it was a bio-ink that allowed scientists to convey human tissues into organs. That was a creation that got here from my Ph.D. in Gutenberg, Sweden, on the Chalmers University of Technology: I labored carefully with my professor on that know-how, and it primarily grew to become our first product. Eric and I commercialized the product and introduced it to market, the place this entire image began to emerge.
This is CELLINK
With over 14 subsidiaries, you’re employed in a wide range of life sciences fields and have many merchandise. Despite your huge portfolio of firms, what else makes BICO distinctive?
I believe what makes BICO distinctive is primarily the those who now we have managed to appeal to. We are all very enthusiastic about what we do. Of course, although there could also be many firms that may say that, we’re of the opinion that once you have a look at what we as colleagues have achieved in such a short while, it’s distinctive and fairly outstanding.
We like to transfer quick. I believe that is likely one of the distinctive options of BICO: after we see a possibility, we go for it full-heartedly, and we get the job completed.
Despite elevated consideration lately, additional highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the drug growth sector nonetheless faces nice hurdles in accelerating analysis into new therapeutics. What do you consider to be a few of the greatest challenges the drug discovery sector faces, and the way are BICO making an attempt to overcome these?
There are many challenges concerned. Of course, it’s onerous to get into the main points, however one of many greater challenges is the duty of bringing extra automation – particularly built-in automation – into processes the place there are numerous research taking place within the labs.
This is the place we consider we are able to make a major contribution. A second level is combining the automation, digitalizing the lab, and miniaturizing the experiments to accomplish extra experiments with fewer sources. There are a number of areas the place we would like to work carefully with our colleagues within the pharmaceutical area to advance drug growth. I might say that automation, digitalization, and miniaturization are the fields wherein we are able to greatest contribute and the place we consider there’s a nice want.
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As a global firm with places of work in each the US and Europe, how vital of a task do you consider Europe performs throughout the acceleration of the life sciences business?
Simply put, the function of Europe is big. For occasion, in case you have a look at the know-how stemming from Europe, there are some unbelievable and even lovely applied sciences accessible available on the market in the present day as a result of there’s quite a lot of funding that reaches these universities. There is numerous curiosity in working with the most recent and biggest.
All these mixed means that you’ve quite a lot of analysis taking place, making its manner to new firms, after which these applied sciences ultimately attain the business. I strongly consider that Europe is doing a wonderful job in growing the variety of improvements introduced ahead.
Europe can also be doing a wonderful job selling the startups which might be making a distinction. We are very grateful that now we have been awarded a number of European grants, which have resulted in a lot of merchandise which might be accessible available on the market in the present day. Whether it’s a product or a service, now we have been in a position to remodel European funding and switch that right into a product, which is phenomenal. Our group and people who profit from our merchandise are very grateful – to the establishments who granted us the funding and to the European taxpayer, with out whom this vital work couldn’t happen.
Throughout Europe, many international locations are main in life sciences. The UK, for example, has a formidable report when it comes to what they’ve been in a position to do within the life sciences. Small cities like Cambridge have generated superb applied sciences from such a small hub, and there are a lot of extra all through Europe. Particularly for us as a global firm, now we have entry to many extraordinarily proficient people.
What recommendation would you give to somebody trying to begin an organization throughout the life sciences however is uncertain of the place to begin? How vital is discovering a singular area in a market when competing in opposition to well-established firms and organizations?
There is nobody piece of recommendation, however as Eric usually says: “You do not have to be nice to begin, however you’ve to begin to be nice.” I believe, in a phrase, it’s important to be daring. There are numerous improvements stemming from academia which might be wanted within the business. To put it one other manner, I encourage innovators and entrepreneurs to consider of their concepts.
Another large focus for BICO is regarding sustainability, with you being an official signatory of the UN Global Compact Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) and the Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact. How vital is sustainability to BICO, and the way does your sustainability agenda launched in 2021 assist obtain the SDGs?
Sustainability is important. We are all a part of an even bigger image. That is the framework wherein we would like to function. We consider there’s numerous innovation and numerous area for innovating new applied sciences and discovering new methods of doing issues which might be returning to the ethos of doing extra with much less. This idea could be a guiding drive: we are able to have an effect on decreasing the variety of plastics used, decreasing the variety of chemical compounds used, and nonetheless reaching nice outcomes. That is how we have a look at our work; within the greater scheme of issues, there should be concord amongst individuals, merchandise, and the planet.
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BICO’s subsidiaries have numerous applied sciences accessible inside life sciences, with over 25,000 at the moment being utilized in analysis worldwide. How has know-how superior life sciences analysis during the last decade, and the way important will know-how be in persevering with innovation within the area? Are there any explicit areas you’re excited to see evolve?
Over the final decade, life sciences has advanced quickly and vastly in areas the place now we have seen an amazing shift. Especially in biology stem, cell analysis, most cancers analysis, and general drug growth, there have been dramatic shifts and quite a lot of progress. We have seen a shift from using 2D cell tradition fashions into 3D cell tradition fashions, which is kind of a major growth.
We are proud to be on the reducing fringe of our area, offering the applied sciences that can take our clients in pharma or academia from lastly transitioning from 2D cell cultures to 3D cell cultures. There are a number of applied sciences we are able to provide to assist them in that transition. As one instance, I can see pharma utilizing a number of tissues related in microfluidic units or organ-on-chip methods the place an entire scientific trial could be carried out on a dish. I’m very, very enthusiastic about that.
Another factor is accelerating drug growth, and the end result of that’s that you’ve much less waste, doubtlessly even changing animal fashions fully. Right now, the purpose is to cut back as a lot as doable. We are already doing that: in 2021, we estimated that we saved roughly 95,000 animal lives simply in a single 12 months by offering these different fashions to animal research. That is one more reason we’re so excited in regards to the future and the contribution that we’re making towards science and animal welfare.
Simply put, we’re ecstatic in regards to the progress now we have made – which has been made doable thanks to the nice colleagues now we have on board. Good individuals make good merchandise.
What do you consider the way forward for the life sciences to appear to be? Are you hopeful that we are going to see individuals residing higher and more healthy lives with continued innovation, collaboration, and applied sciences? What would this imply for world well being?
Globally, sufferers have gotten increasingly conscious of their well being. I additionally observe a shift from reactive healthcare into proactive healthcare, wherein many individuals are taking steps to monitor all levels of their well being.
Patients and other people can take preventive measures to ensure that we’re in charge of our well being. So all of those applied sciences we see right here at SLAS are pointing in that path. I consider we’re all contributing in direction of a brighter, more healthy future the place sufferers have extra management over their well being.
Creating the Future of Medicine
What’s subsequent for BICO? Where can individuals go to hold up-to-date along with your newest information and initiatives?
Please go to us on-line at BICO.com. If you need to be taught extra about a few of the thrilling work that we’re at the moment doing, please be at liberty to go to BICO.com/workflows, the place we’re highlighting some actually cool functions that are attention-grabbing for business consultants or pharma healthcare nerds like myself.
About Héctor Martínez
From Mexico, to the US to Sweden, Dr. Héctor Martínez has left his mark across the globe. As CTO and Co-Founder of CELLINK, Héctor has contributed together with his ardour in combining engineering and biology to drive CELLINK to the place it’s in the present day. He acquired his doctorate in Biomedical Engineering from Chalmers University of Technology and has 10+ years of expertise in biomaterials, tissue engineering and 3D bioprinting applied sciences.
He obtained a B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington and M.Sc. in Biomedical Engineering from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. Héctor’s dream is to translate CELLINK’s know-how to the drug discovery, growth and manufacturing processes and in the end to the clinic – to convey higher healthcare therapies to sufferers in want.