INCATE receives Lighthouse Award 2024 from Swiss National Science Foundation

The unique non-profit organization supports start-ups in the development of urgently needed new antibiotics, as the industry has almost completely withdrawn from this business

| Helena Costa Pereira

The INCATE management team and Christoph Dehio from the INCATE Board, here at the AMR Conference 2024 in Basel.
The INCATE management team and Christoph Dehio from the INCATE Board, here at the AMR Conference 2024 in Basel. F.l.t.r.: Derry Mercer (Bioaster), Sina Gerbach (Leibniz-HKI), Mercedes Gonzalez Moreno (Leibniz-HKI), Helmut Kessmann (Univ. Basel), Ina-Kristin Behrens (DZIF), Silke Alt (DZIF), Doug Häggström (Univ. Basel), Helena Costa Pereira (Leibniz-HKI), Christoph Dehio (Univ. Basel), Peter Seiler (Leibniz-HKI). Source: eventfotografen.com / bamconn GmbH

INCATE, the INCubator for Antimicrobial Therapies in Europe, has been honoured with the 2024 Lighthouse Award for outstanding Transfer of Knowledge and Technology by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). The award ceremony took place on June 27th, in Bern, Switzerland.

The SNSF has developed the Lighthouse Awards to recognize the quality of non-science initiatives such as promoting the transfer of knowledge and technologies, open science initiatives, communication of science, equal opportunity and education.

INCATE supports innovators in combating drug-resistant bacterial infections. It connects research, industry, entrepreneurs, and investors to accelerate solutions for new therapies, diagnostics, and interventions in the fight of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The organization offers advice, a collaborative community, and funding opportunities for selected start-ups to help construct compelling business propositions and attract investors. The partnership was founded as a collaborative project in 2021 by the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology – Hans Knöll Institute (Leibniz-HKI), the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) AntiResist and the University of Basel. As one of the central founding parts of this consortium, it is the Leibniz-HKI’s mission to bridge the gap between early-stage innovation and market readiness.

According to the SNSF, “INCATE wins the Lighthouse Award for the transfer of technologies as it plays a key role in addressing antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Worldwide, AMR causes more than a million of deaths each year. In addition, research is stagnating as the development of antibiotics is not profitable. The INCATE initiative seeks to change this. In three years, INCATE established strong links between the biopharmaceutical industry, European institutions and innovators from academia to fill the pipeline with new antibiotics.”

“Let me express, on behalf of the entire INCATE team, how honoured we feel receiving this award. The SNSF and NCCR AntiResist Management supported INCATE’s creative design and implementation from its inception, with the objective of creating an international and impactful organization. Since 2021, we have helped innovators turn university findings into start-up businesses.”, said Helmut Kessmann from INCATE’s Management team. “We would also like to express a big thank you to all the founding institutions as well as our Selection Committee, who play a crucial role in selecting the most promising enterprises.”

Since its beginning, INCATE has been contacted by over 280 start-ups and projects, gathering more than 118 applications. The establishment of a robust pipeline for new ventures has been a hallmark accomplishment, along with furnishing essential support to 33 ventures at Stage I. The current portfolio of Stage I ventures comes from 16 countries so far, with over half not founded as companies when they first contacted INCATE. The technologies selected include traditional direct acting small molecules and peptides but also phages, anti-virulence and other technologies. Notably, two of these ventures moved forward to Stage II. At present, the landscape includes some INCATE ventures that have achieved the coveted “investable stage” status, successfully securing equity investment and forging impactful collaborations. Some success stories from the portfolio include Invitris, smartbax, CC Bio, Disperazol, and Xiretsa. INCATE was listed as a push incentive in the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response (HERA) report of the EU commission in 2023.

The Lighthouse Award, together with the €1m funding by the Leibniz Association and other milestones, allow INCATE to continue its commitment to advancing novel and breakthrough technologies and new products to fight the antibiotic resistance challenge.

About INCATE

INCATE is a not-for-profit partnership which brings together translational and basic research, industry, experienced entrepreneurs and investors from across Europe and beyond. The German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), the Leibniz-HKI (member of Leibniz Association) in Germany, the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research AntiResist, the University of Basel are the academic founding members of INCATE with the University of Basel acting as the host. Together with the four industry partners Boehringer Ingelheim, Roche, Shionogi and MSD as well as other organizations, funders and investors, INCATE want to ensure that the pipeline of new antibiotics and technology platforms is filled and strengthened.

About SNSF

Based on a government mandate, the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) supports scientific research in all academic disciplines – from physics to medicine to sociology. At the end of 2022, the SNSF was funding 5500 projects involving more than 20,000 researchers. This makes us the leading Swiss organization for the promotion of scientific research.

In close collaboration with higher education institutions and other partners, the SNSF strives to create the best possible conditions for the development and global interconnectedness of Swiss research. It pays particular attention to the promotion of early-career researchers. In addition, it accepts evaluation mandates to help ensure that large third-party-funded research initiatives deliver the highest scientific quality. The Lighthouse Awards were created to recognize the quality of non-science initiatives such as promoting equal opportunity, the transfer of knowledge and technologies, open science initiatives, communication of science, and education.

About NCCR AntiResist

The National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) AntiResist is a Swiss research consortium funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), which aims to tackle the urgent global imperative of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), one of the top ten threats to global health. AntiResist is a diverse panel of experts in the fields of clinical research, infection biology, and engineering, which aims at transforming the research and development of new antibiotics and antimicrobial strategies by building human tissue-based infection models to screen and discover new antibiotics.

For more information please contact:

helena.costa.pereira@incate.net or +49 176 46172549

www.incate.net

X and LinkedIn: @INCATEurope

Staff

Axel A. Brakhage
Helena Costa Pereira
Sina Gerbach
Mercedes Gonzalez Moreno

Science communication & accreditation

Friederike Gawlik
Head
Charlotte Fuchs

Accreditation

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