Qbic invests in VUB start-up Pharmafluidics

Brussels – Ghent, 30 June 2014

Qbic and SOFI invest seed capital in VUB start-up in column chromatography

Qbic Arkiv Fund and SOFI each invest 250.000 EUR in the VUB start-up Pharmafluidics NV.  The company offers a new generation of high-performance columns for chromatographic, molecular separations.  Pharmafluidics will use the invested capital for developing a set of commercial columns, applicable in an industrial setting.

Pharmafluidics (www.pharmafluidics.com) has been incorporated in December 2010 as a spin off of the “Vrije Universiteit Brussel”.  Several years of fundamental research in the domains of microfluidica and chromatographic separation techniques at the department of Chemical Engineering and Industrial Chemistry resulted in filing several patents on lithographically etched, micro-pillar columns for molecular separations.  With this technology, Pharmafluidics wants to realise a breakthrough in the world of analytical separations based on high-performant, liquid chromatography (“HPLC”).  First targets are biomolecules, more in particular proteome digests used in biomarker research.  Finding new biomarkers is crucial for the detection of diseases in an early phase.
Even with the most sophisticated separation columns currently available, achieving a sufficient resolution required to analyse a proteome digest is not yet possible.  Pharmafluidics has developed a new generation of molecular separation columns, combining microlithographic production techniques, know how of microfluidics  and expertise in HPLC separation processes.  These new columns offer a disruptive performance when compared with what is achievable with current column technology.  In co-operaton with the reputable “VIB Proteomics Expertise Center” (www.vib.be/pec) lead by Prof. Kris Gevaert (VIB department for Medical Proteine research and Biochemistry department of UGent), Pharmafluidics will further develop the experimental column designs toward industrially applicable products.

Danny Gonnissen, investment partner at Qbic Venture Partners: “We strongly believe in leveraging (non evident) combinations of technologies to develop new products that are disruptive for concrete market applications.  Pharmafluidics has translated the need for better molecular separations in –o.a. – biomarker research in a unique product development trajectory, offering the potential to become a leading player in this market domain.”

Paul Jacobs, general manager of Pharmafluidics: “Our columns tear down a physical barrier in the world of liquid chromatography, the most used technology in analytical laboratories, allowing analysis of complex samples in much more detail.  Moreover, increasing efficiency of molecular analyses allows reducing research costs in analytical laboratories.  Thanks to the financial inputs from Qbic and SOFI, Pharmafluidics will be able to further develop separation columns with a unique performance for a growing market.”
Wim De Malsche, co-founder and lecturer at the VUB: “ Already 10 years ago, using computational fluid dynamics, Prof. Gert Desmet has demonstrated that total order is key for increasing performance of chromatographic columns.   Together with my research team, I converted this idea into practice.  This research resulted in a number of patented solutions, which can now be translated into methodologies that can have an enormous impact on the life quality of next generations.”

About SOFI
With the SOFI Fund, the region of Flanders provides means for transferring ideas of promising researchers into new products, services and processes.  SOFI – a financing vehicle for spin offs – manages € 20 million risk capital for starting up new, innovative enterprises originating from successful developments at Flanders’ Strategic Research Centra for biotechnology (VIB), nanotechnology (IMEC), ICT and digital media (iMinds) and energy and sustainability (VITO).  The first SOFI Fund has financed already 17 spin off projects.  As a result from this success, the Flanders region decided to invest an addional amount of € 10 million risk capital for supporting innovative developments at Universities and Colleges.  Researchers can apply for equity participations or convertable loans of up to € 1 million, but also for kick start loans of up to 50.000 €.  The Flemish investment Company PMV co-ordinates the Fund.

About QBIC
Qbic Arkiv Fund is an interuniversity, risk capital fund investing in spin offs of the universities UGent, VUB and UAntwerpen, their associated Colleges and university hospitals, and VITO.  Qbic has € 31,2 million under management.  Qbic invests in starting companies and provides hands-on support in their journey toward commercial success.
Qbic Arkiv Fund is a joint initiative with Arkimedes-Fund II.  More info about Qbic can be found on www.qbic.be.

About VUB
The Vrije Universiteit Brussel plays a prominent role in attracting and starting new economic activities on and around the VUB campusses in the regions of Brussels and Flanders.  The Technology Transfer Interface (vubtechtransfer.be) is the point of contact for knowledge transfer in the interaction between the university and the industry.  Income is reinvested in the ecosystem of excellent research, open innovation and industrial collaborations.


For more info, please contact:
Danny Gonnissen, Investment partner Qbic
T +32 479 980 508 – danny.gonnissen@qbic.be
Ellen De Greve, Investment partner PMV
T +32 2 229 52 30 – ellen.degreve@pmv.eu
Paul Jacobs, general director Pharmafluidics
T +32 475 69 11 65 – paul.jacobs@pharmafluidics.com