Tor 26 maj / År 40 / Nr 1 2022

GU Holding’s ambition: improving healthcare to the community at large

The Gothenburg region is regarded as one of Sweden’s most important hubs for innovations and advanced large-scale research within a broad spectrum of disciplines. The role of GU Holding is primarily to support innovations at an early stage. The University of Gothenburg’s globally recognized expertise, particularly within biomaterials, cardiology, anti-inflammatory drugs and vaccines, grants GU Holding a unique position in promoting advancements within the field of Life Science.

GU Holding, wholly-owned by the University of Gothenburg, was founded in 1995 as an initiative by the Swedish government. The core business of GU Holding is to create successful businesses by developing and investing in new innovations originating from the university, and thereby creating new employment opportunities as well as promoting industrial and economic growth in the Gothenburg region.

Promoting innovations into tangible projects
The projects within the Life Science area are focused on an ambition to improve healthcare to the community at large.
“The project portfolio is comprehensive, containing anything from new medicines; anti-inflammatory drugs in particular, to newly discovered treatments. By supporting projects that for instance are focusing on Alzheimer’s disease and kidney cancer, we aim to develop innovations into viable treatments”, Andreas Albertsson, Information Manager at GU Holding, explains.
The company MIVAC Development AB was founded in 2008 with the aim of creating a professional development platform, primarily for researchers within MIVAC (Mucosal Immunobiology and Vaccine Center), at the University of Gothenburg. The founding of this company is a perfect example of how GU Holding can boost and promote research findings and innovations into tangible projects of commercial interest.
There are currently three large projects within MIVAC Development. Based on research from MIVAC, the company has developed a protein drug to prevent the body from developing various autoimmune disorders or allergies. The project is primarily targeted to therapeutic treatment of RA.
MIVAC Development is also focusing on antibody treatment of AD disease and development of AD diagnosis. Today, it is only possible to relieve the symptoms of AD but not to influence the course of the disease. The project concept enables the development of a variety of therapies to treat transgenic animals and to assist in the future diagnosis of AD.
The company also aims to target stomach ulcers and gastric cancer based on a unique multi-component vaccine against Helicobacter pylori. Current therapy is based on antibiotics and a gastric acid inhibitor which provides no protection against re-infection, also leading to increased development of antibiotic resistance, so the need for the vaccine is immediate.

Large investments in the commercialisation process
The agreement with BIOMATCELL is another example of how GU Holding can assist in the process of commercialisation. BIOMATCELL is a strong research environment and VINN Excellence Center at the University of Gothenburg involving ten collaboration partners. The Centre conducts problem-oriented research on biomaterials and cell therapies that will lead to new implant materials and treatments based on regenerative medicine.
VINNOVA is investing seven million per year over a ten year period and with co-funding from industrial participants we are talking over 20 million per year. GU Holding is promoting the commercialisation process of innovations generated from the center. Only during 2010, GU Holding invested in three new ideas from BIOMATCELL.

Further opportunities for new and existing companies
The Sahlgrenska Center for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research, CMR, focuses on defining the underlying mechanisms of the metabolic syndrome, which has become a leading public health issue.
“We are involved in strategic work for utilisation and commercialisation of CMR research results. So far, two CMR-projects are enrolled in our portfolio; Procardia and BacLabs”, Business Development and Investment Manager Sara Pellmé reveals.
Procardia is a service company providing preventive care and advanced monitoring of cardiovascular disease. BacLabs is a commercialisation structure for research results focusing on the gut flora and its metabolic effects, based on research conducted by Fredrik Bäckhed and his research team. The work has so far resulted in identification of a novel pharmaceutical target with applications for atherosclerosis. Fredrik Bäckhed was recently awarded 12th place on a list of 101 most talented Swedes, presented by the Swedish business newspaper Veckans Affärer.
“Life Science presents a large platform of knowledge and expertise in our geographical area, i.e. the Gothenburg region. The University of Gothenburg is aiming for a stronger link between innovations and commercialisations, and here is where our mission starts. Our aim is to become one of the world strongholds within Life Science, presenting further opportunities for new and existing companies in our region”, Sara Pellmé concludes.