Scenic Biotech are pioneers in the identification of genetic modifiers, developing breakthrough therapies for cancer and rare diseases. Following a successful funding round, Scenic Biotech will expand its current facilities and activities at life sciences innovation hub Amsterdam Science Park.
Having just raised €28 million in Series A funding, Scenic Biotech is now planning to grow its team substantially. It will expand its facilities at Amsterdam Science Park to accommodate the growth in its (pre-)clinical capacities. Since setting up at the park five years ago, Scenic Biotech has already grown out of its first facility and moved to a larger space. And now, says Izeboud, the company’s offices and laboratories are again “bursting at the seams” and it’s time for another move, this time to the Science Park’s newest addition, Matrix ONE. “We can rent almost an entire floor, so that’s nice. We looked around and we wanted to stay in the park and Matrix itself could facilitate our growth.”
The new funding will accelerate the company’s growth into developing its own medicines and moving into human clinical trials. The creation of new programmes is likely to lead to new industry collaborations – another reason the Science Park is a desirable location. The mix of academic and research institutions, alongside innovative entrepreneurs, stimulates synergy. The Science Park, says Izeboud, “is a bit of a mix, which makes it interesting. It’s not only biotech life sciences, it’s also physics. Interaction becomes synergistic. You start to find each other. It’s really started to accelerate the last two, three years.”
The world of biotech has been on a roll for quite a few years now, says Izeboud, who acknowledges that as well as collaborating with other innovators, his company is sometimes competing with them for space and new talent. But he describes the atmosphere at the Science Park as very friendly and, he notes, “it’s synergistic, or how can I say it? One-plus-one is three.”
Scenic Biotech was founded in 2017 by Sebastian Nijman and Thijn Brummelkamp. The company focuses on identifying genetic modifiers, also known as disease suppressors. These are genes that counteract the effect of a disease-causing gene. Scenic Biotech CEO Oscar Izeboud explains: “There are people who have the affected gene, but they don’t get sick. These people are called superheroes… they have a repair mechanism, and our technology allows us to find it in the lab. We call it evolutionary-inspired medicine. The body has its own repair mechanism. To develop therapies, we don’t go after the disease-causing gene – we go after the repair gene.”
There are also solid practical and logistical advantages to being based at the Science Park hub. It’s conveniently situated and easy for staff to access with up-to-date facilities in attractive surroundings. Izebout mentions the shared spaces such as the auditorium that will be part of the new Matrix One building as offering opportunities for joint meetings to share knowledge. He hopes Science Park companies will also intensify their cooperation around pooling resources with joint procurement and services such as legal or employment advice.
And while Scenic is first and foremost a biotech and patient-focused company, sustainability is front-of-mind for both colleagues and management. “As a new, young company,” says Izeboud, “everybody’s quite involved with sustainability and the planet.” The Matrix ONE building is built for sustainability and and their upcoming move is a chance, says Izeboud, for Scenic to reassess and reset their working practices on both the environment and their people. “It’s a little bit of a nuisance to move, but at the same time, it’s a nice opportunity to review your office sustainability, your lab sustainability, the environment, everything. And this is what we’re doing.”
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