23.06.2014

The cycle of science: from the laboratory counter to the international market

Three Argentine start-up companies are presented for the first time at BIO 2014, the world's largest biotechnology convention, to be held in San Diego, United States of America.

The cycle of science: from the laboratory counter to the international market

Yanil Parma in representation of Inbio Higway, Esteban Lombardía in representation of Terragene and Alberto Saul in representation of Argenomics.

Within the framework of BIO 2014, the world's largest biotechnology convention, 24 Argentine companies, laboratories, chambers of industry and agencies will be presented in the Argentine pavilion organized by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship. This year the event will be held from June 23 to 26 in the city of San Diego, California, United States of America. With the aim of boosting the biotech industry, the ministry of Science invited the start-up companies Terragene, Inbio Highway and Argenomics to participate in this edition of the event.

Terragene

According to Esteban Lombardía, manager of Terragene, the road began in 2006. After being a doctoral fellow of the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET) and the National Agency for Scientific and Technological Promotion, he decided to focus in the development of biotechnology solutions to determine the effectiveness of sterilization processes for medical and dental equipment, among others.

In 2008 the first product line was released, a series of biological indicators to determine the effectiveness of these procedures. "The device is a plastic container with a very thin glass bulb at the bottom.The bulb contains spores, which is one of the forms of resistance developed by bacteria", he explains. These containers undergo the same sterilization process than the material and if spores are eliminated, then the method can be certified as effective.

After these first devices have proven to be successful, Terragene developed other products as chemical indicators inks to determine the sterilization efficiency in addition to the software for tracking equipment and adhesive tapes that change color when wrapping packages are sterilized properly. At present the company exports its products to over 60 countries and has an annual turnover of six million dollars, figure almost doubled each year. "In recent times there has been a significant advance in Argentine science and in Argentine technology-based companies", Lombardía says. "By coming to the BIO 2014 we seek not only meeting new strategic partners to enter other markets but also find suppliers to develop new products", he concludes.

Inbio Highway

Yanil Parma works in the area of Coordination and Promotion in Inbio Highway, a company engaged in providing molecular biology reagents - necessary enzymes for DNA amplification reactions, for example - and in vitro diagnostic kits.

The thesis of Parma as a doctoral fellow of CONICET concerned the development of several diagnostic kits for detection of hemolytic uremic syndrome, a disease caused by some strains of Escherichia coli, a bacterium whose toxin can cause kidney failure, anemia and, in severe cases, death. Today, his doctorate is closely related to his current activity. "It was a thesis project with a highly applied approach and now we are putting all that knowledge into practice in Inbio Highway", she says.

The company is, according to Parma, the first laboratory authorized to produce such molecular biology reagents in Argentina. So far, Inbio Highway only commercializes its products in the country, but from its participation in the BIO 2014 the company seeks to expand its market to other countries. "The purpose is to present our products abroad and also learn how companies manage in other markets. We have an academic background and having a company in charge is quite different", says Parma. ‑{}‑

Argenomics

Alberto Saul chose a different manner to enter the world of science. An economist by training, throughout his career he was focusing on the biotech project incubation . And so Argenomics came up, a company dedicated to the production of genetic markers, clinical research and pharmacotechnical development programs.

"However, in addition to the products of our portfolio" Saul says "We are a project incubator. This means that someone with a good idea consult us how to put it into practice and we put our expertise to help implement it".

Though Argenomics currently only operates in the domestic market, it will soon offer services and products to Peru, Colombia and Uruguay. "By participating in the BIO we seek further disseminate what we do, create opportunities for partnerships with platforms and products contributing to expand the Argenomics supply" Saul says.

Science Portfolio Funding

Argenomics has four projects funded by the National Agency for Science and Technology Promotion, through the Argentinean Technology Fund (FONTAR). Two of them involve the incorporation of doctors for the development of products for the determination of biomarkers in the amount of $ 492,804. The third project corresponds to Non-Refundable Contributions (NRA) for Research and Development (R & D) in the amount of $ 983,480. In the latter case, it refers to Bio, Nano, ICT Non-Refundable Contributions in the amount of $ 630,935 for the development of noninvasive methods for diagnosis and pharmacological study of cancer.

Meanwhile, Inbio Highway receives funding from FONTAR in the amount of $ 73,427 and 982,660 through the line of ANR 800 and ANR R & D Non-Refundable Contributions, respectively. The first project deals with the innovation of processes and products applicable in molecular biology and the second with implementation of a platform for R & D applied to the production of recombinant proteins for use in molecular biology.

Finally, Terragene has two projects funded by FONTAR through the ANR 600 line. The first amounts to $ 269,625 for innovation and automation in the manufacture of biological indicators of the health area and industry. The second amounts to $ 459,795 and is allocated to the development and innovation of indicator ink for monitoring sterilization processes.

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The cycle of science: from the laboratory counter to the international market

Yanil Parma in representation of Inbio Higway, Esteban Lombardía in representation of Terragene and Alberto Saul in representation of Argenomics.

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