Twenty Skolkovo biomed startups are heading to the 2018 BIO International Convention in Boston this week to showcase their innovations at one of the world’s biggest biotech events.

Twenty-six Skolkovo resident startups are taking part in BIO 2018, one of the world's biggest biotech events. Photo: BIO/Flickr.

This year, the convention turns 25 years old, and is marking the occasion in the U.S. biotech capital of Massachusetts from June 4-7. The state is home to a major international biotech cluster thanks to its universities, research institutes and support from the state government.

“Boston is the heart of pharmaceuticals and biotechnology,” said Kamila Zarubina, acceleration director within the Skolkovo Foundation’s biomed cluster. 

“The R&D industry has built up around Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); there are more patents per square metre there than people. Everything you could ever need as a biotech researcher is available there,” she told ahead of the event. 

Skolkovo is making the most of the opportunity by sending a record number of startups to BIO, with 20 companies taking part.

Skolkovo will have its own stand at the convention, but the focus will be on meeting with potential investors and partners, rather than demonstrating their technology. The stand will include space for meetings, and the startups will also be actively taking advantage of BIO’s partnering service to meet with figures of interest. 

The Skolkovo delegation of biomed startups pictured in front of the foundation's stand at BIO. Photo:

“The U.S. market is the biggest for biotech,” said Zarubina, noting that Skolkovo companies can apply for microgrants to cover the costs of their participation in BIO.

Hepatera, which is developing a drug for patients suffering from chronic viral hepatitis B with delta-agent, is currently carrying out clinical research in Germany, and is at the stage when it is ready to license its technology, said Zarubina, while Gero is developing first generation therapy that will eliminate blood protein factors associated with aging, and alleviate age-related health deficiencies. The project is currently at the preclinical development stage, with clinical trials expected to start in 2020. At BIO, Gero plans to find partners and investors, as well as to further develop its R&D.

At previous BIO conventions, Skolkovo startups have reached collaboration deals to carry out joint clinical research, noted Zarubina. 

Other Skolkovo startups taking part in BIO include DRD, the maker of express tests to detect brain damage, and Agroplazma, which is working on the accelerated selection of agricultural crops using cutting-edge post-genomic and biotech methods. 

BIO started out as a pharma event, but as it develops, it is also becoming a platform for agrotech. Fungipak, one of Skolkovo’s first agrotech resident companies, will take its bioinsecticides to BIO.  

“This is mature technology that has global potential,” said Roman Kulikov, head of acceleration for agrotech projects within Skolkovo’s biomed cluster, noting that Fungipak’s bioative pest control agents are effective against locusts, the scourge of many a crop across much of the world.

“The Russian market for this is small: it’s a global market. This is an excellent opportunity to show the technology to large companies and show the large market that it exists: Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and so on,” said Kulikov.