Biomedical engineering is a rapidly evolving industry that attracts billions of dollars. Its ultimate mission is to make people healthier and prolong their lives. Scientists believe that humans can live up to 120 or even 150 years if they take good care of their health. However, sleeping at least 7 hours per day and staying hydrated is not enough. Our bodies need to combat diseases and the negative impact of the environment.
Biotech startups strive to understand and manipulate the basic building blocks of living creatures. They investigate the physical, chemical, and genetic properties of organisms, tissues, and cells. They use the obtained knowledge to deliver treatments, therapies, and medicines for various diseases.
To launch a biomedical engineering startup, the entrepreneur needs to have solid expertise in science and technology as well as business skills. They should be able to build a network of contacts that will include specialists from various fields of knowledge: from finance and logistics to quality assurance and marketing.
Challenges of launching biomedical engineering startups
The biggest challenge of launching a biomedical engineering startup is costs. You can’t fund such a company from your own pocket or bootstrap it, and a bank loan will be unlikely to cover your needs.
You’ll need to attract investors and let them control a part of your business. However, investors need to be aware that the biotech market is highly volatile. Here are the main factors that might impact the required budget.
- Rising global competition
- Escalating research costs
- Increasing complexity of distribution systems
- Pressure from government
- Consumer demands to reduce prices
- Shift in prevalence and distribution of chronic diseases
To convince investors to support you, you’ll need to write a compelling business plan. Each time the circumstances change, you’ll need to inform your stakeholders about it. If they lack profile knowledge, it’s essential to explain what’s happening in simple terms.
The second major challenge is hiring. Even in the US, which is the global leader in biomedical engineering, professionals with relevant expertise are scarce. Over 13,000 professionals are currently employed in the country. Most of them are located in Boston or New York. But it doesn’t mean they will stay there forever. Many students involved in research come from abroad. If they join a startup but it doesn’t meet their expectations, they might want to leave for their homeland. Or, they might not be eager to work for a startup at all because they would love to go back home immediately after completing their studies.
The third challenge is legislation. The biotech industry heavily depends on the government. Companies receive financial support from the state, and they also need to comply with industry regulations and protect their intellectual properties.
Top American biomedical engineering startups
The US is the global leader in the biomedical engineering industry. This country attracts top talents from all regions of the planet. Here, entrepreneurs can find investors with a lot of money and experience in supporting biotech companies. Below, we’ll list the most promising US-based businesses that produce innovative biotech solutions.
This company was founded in 2019. It strives to make drugs more affordable to consumers by making their pricing transparent. EQRx partners with other biopharmaceutical companies to produce more cost-effective therapies. Plus, it works on producing late-stage cancer drugs. The EQRx CEO and chairman has previously founded a few other biotech startups.
This one was launched in 2018. Its primary goal is to help patients get rid of coronary artery disease and its deadly effects by editing adult genomes. Verve Therapeutics successfully collaborates with other companies in the industry.
Founded in 2017, this startup announced a $370 million funding round in November 2021. Cellarity is focused on four areas: metabolism, respiratory disease, hematology, and immuno-oncology. This company tries to accelerate the process of drug discovery. Instead of using individual proteins, it wants to create medicines that target cell behavior.
This cellular biology company was established in 2008. The demand for the custom micro-organisms that it produces comes from various industries, not only pharmaceuticals. For instance, in 2018, Ginkgo Bioworks partnered with Bayer to develop molecules for agricultural applications. This startup puts a lot of effort into biosecurity, discovering useful enzymes, and improving strains for fermentation.
Launched in 2018, this business can boast an exceptionally experienced and talented leadership team. The main goal of this startup is to create revolutionary therapy options for Hepatitis B and other viral diseases.
In 2019, this business sprung from research at MIT. The oRNA acronym stands for circular RNA. The startup aims to innovate and create treatments based on oRNA. It employs advanced technology to develop oRNA therapies that can cope with the issues related to linear messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutic development.
Launched in 2018, this business relies on a profound understanding of human genetics to develop novel medicines. Its team compares genetic markers in people who are affected by rare diseases and in healthy individuals.
This company was established in 2019. Its team accentuates that 90% of cancer deaths take place because of cancer recurrence. Professionals with impressive expertise in oncology, neuroscience, and other medical disciplines create therapies that tackle not initial cancer but its relapse and metastasis.
Founded in 2020, this startup is backed by the Third Rock Venture. To provide better precision treatments, it makes the most of enzymes that produce force and motion through energy. This business aims to harness the power of molecular machines.
This business was established in 2019. While many other companies employ gene therapy to cure rare monogenic disorders, Kryia relies on this technology to handle highly pervasive conditions. The gene therapy treatments that it produces can help patients with diabetes and obesity.
Launched in 2018, this company aspires to conquer the $3.4B-worth American market of manufacturing hair loss treatments. To revive follicles, Stemson Therapeutics relies on the Pluripotent Stem Cells.
This one was founded in 2018 and offers two therapies: WU-NK and WU-CART. The former is an off-the-shelf drug that has proved its efficiency in combating hematological diseases and treating solid tumors. The latter helps patients get rid of T-cell malignancies. Both products are currently in their pre-clinical and clinical testing phases.
Established in 2006, this startup landed in the 5th position of Fastcompany’s rating of the most innovative biotechnology companies in 2020. Its main product is an oral hydrogel that absorbs water in the stomach and mixes it with ingested food. This solution helps patients with obesity and other chronic diseases decrease hunger. This method is known as biomimicry.
This business was launched in 2018 and has formed a strategic partnership with OpenEye Scientific. The startup can integrate OpenEye’s cutting-edge Orion technology into its platform to boost its efficiency. Redesign Science stimulates protein targets at their atomic level to facilitate the discovery of new, hidden drug opportunities.
Founded in 2018, this company aims to “restore the natural shape of life”. With the help of RNA targeting, it treats oncology, as well as metabolic and neurodegenerative disorders.
This business was launched in 2020 and has received financial support from PXV Fund, Drive Capital, and Perceptive Xontogeny Venture Fund. The custom manufacturing and development facility of Forge Biologics is called The Hearth, and it occupies 175,000 square feet. The company specializes in end-to-end development of gene therapies, from initial idea to production.
Founded in 2016, this company strives to transform treatment of brain disorders using a method of precision-targeted medicine. Its CEO is an expert in robotics and AI. To deliver targeted treatment, the company employs micro-robots that can be controlled remotely — this advancement is called Bionauts.
This business was launched in 2019 as a spinoff from Ginkgo Bioworks. It produces proteins and other building blocks that improve the quality of already existing plant-based food and help develop new alternatives to animal-based food. This technology provides worthy substitutes for dairy and meat products.
This one was established in 2016 and has secured financial support from 8VC, Two Sigma Ventures, and The Column Group. Hexagon is focused on studying the fungal genome. It enables the startup’s team to understand how small molecules target illness-causing proteins. This knowledge should allow them to produce more effective treatments.
This R&D platform was created in 2012. Its valuation has reached $6.1 billion. BP Biosciences, Regeneron, and Pfizer are among its most well-known clients. Benchling helps teams bring research data to a centralized location and streamlines the R&D process from beginning to end.
This company was founded in 2013. Its team believes that by understanding people’s individual biomarkers they will be able to provide better, more personalized treatment plans for patients.
This business was founded in 2013. In 2019, the FDA cleared its drug candidate that cures a rare childhood disorder. This ailment makes skin fragile and easy to blister. To combat this disease, medical professionals can use stem cells — but this method is costly and involves certain risks. The alternative that Aegle Therapeutics offers is safer and more affordable thanks to being cell-free.
This one was launched in 2018. The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine provided a $23 million grant to this startup. Plus, it received money from Abingworth LLP and Qiming Venture Partners USA. The company has a compound in clinical development that facilitates hematopoietic cell transplantation by ridding bone marrow of hematopoietic stem cells. The mission of this business is to enhance the availability and safety of gene therapies and hematopoietic cell transplantation by producing conditioning agents of a higher quality.
This business was founded in 2020. It helps individuals diagnosed with non-small lung cancer. Lumeda came up with an innovative photosensitizer agent and a photodynamic combination device. Together, these two products kill cancer cells by forming a reactive oxygen species.
This business was established in 2013. It came up with a drug that prevents nerve cell degeneration. It can help patients with Alzheimer’s Disease and Wolfram Syndrome.
Launched in 2013, this startup might be acquired by Pacific Biosciences. Its team has built a breakthrough DNA sequencing platform that guarantees unprecedented accuracy. It managed to secure its competitive edge thanks to polymerase’s natural matching ability.
This company was established in 2015. Its technology is called BEACON. It unlocks the biochemical roles of NAD-utilizing enzymes to target stress support pathways in cancer.
This company was started in 2008 and specializes in protein design. It produces unique enzymes, proteins, and other components that can enhance fermentation strains for nearly any chemical. Unilever has partnered with Arzeda to discover new enzymes for laundry and cleaning substances.
This one was founded in 2010 and has been funded by 5 investors. Its patented technology is called Illuminox. It’s an investigational treatment platform that enables medical professionals to deal with solid tumors with the help of precision-targeted therapies.
This business was launched in 2009 and has 14 different immunotherapies in its pipeline. 8 partners help TeneoBio develop these solutions. This startup aims to treat infectious and autoimmunity diseases as well as cancer using biologics and antibodies.
This company was established in 2018. In 2019, the industry giant Bayer supported it with $215 million. The startup creates drugs that treat cancer with the help of induced pluripotent stem cells. It strives to make earlier therapies more efficient and available.
This one was founded in 2017. Its mission is to increase the usage of DNA-based treatments beyond gene replacement. Thanks to its advancements, medical professionals can reach organs and tissues that used to be unreachable.
Top biomedical startups outside the US
For entrepreneurs outside the US, it might be more difficult to secure funding and find team members with relevant expertise. Nevertheless, a few prominent biomedical startups have appeared recently in Chile, China, Sweden, Switzerland, South Korea, Singapore, the UK, and India.
This company was started in 2015 in Chile. Its most famous product is NotMilk, a tasty and nutritious plant-based substitute for traditional milk. NotCo strives to replace animals in the food production with plants and other natural ingredients. They believe that analogs should taste like animal products and imitate their texture. NotCo employs AI and deep learning algorithms in its workflows.
This one was established in 2018 in Chile. It makes proteins that can be used for agricultural purposes and food production. The brand Protera Sense offers a healthy oil alternative that replaces trans fatty acids. Another one, Protera Guard, prolongs the shelf life of food.
This startup was founded in 2013 in South Korea and is planning to file for an IPO very soon. It specializes in next-gen drug delivery. Its award-winning, patented technology is called DegradaBall. It facilitates the process of delivering drug candidates into cultured cells.
This company was launched in 2018 in Singapore. Until now, it has been in its R&D phase and is only beginning to commercialize. Its mission is to reinvent seafood. Instead of killing living creatures, Shiok Meats grows meat from the cells of lobsters, crabs, and shrimp. So far, this startup has no competitors in its home region of Southeast Asia.
This business was founded in 2015 in Canada. It’s just getting started with its founding rounds. Its mission is to repair and regenerate human body tissues. The team behind the startup has proven its ability to treat spinal cord injuries during clinical trials.
This one was started in 2014 in Canada. Its team includes over 50 professionals which is a big achievement given that Deep Genomics recruits only the top 1% of the talent available. This business combines RNA biology and AI to power drug development. To build machine learning systems for this purpose, AI generates billions of data points.
This business was established in 2010 in Switzerland. Atlas Antibodies, one of the industry giants, has confirmed it would like to acquire Evitria. This startup specializes in CHO-based expression of antibodies and has already performed more than 60,000 transfections.
This one was founded in 2017 in the UK. It is 100% focused on cannabis-based medicines and hopes to become a leading supplier of this ingredient to medical and pharmaceutical companies by 2025.
This company was launched in 2014 in Sweden. Its pipeline currently features 4 treatments targeting 15 different health issues. Anocca relies on engineered genetic, molecular, and cellular tools to make the most of the potential of T-cell immunity. Before the startup’s team begins to manufacture T-cells therapies, it processes the information that the above-mentioned tools gather by analyzing the immune system.
This one was established in 2016 in China. Healthcare Partners and Hillhouse Capital Group are just a few of the prominent investors that have supported it. This startup creates vaccines to protect patients against rotavirus, herpes, and shingles.
This business was launched in 2019 in the UK. Thanks to its unique tech stack, it creates growth factor proteins. They make cultivated meat more profitable and affordable.
Founded in 2017 in India, this company has completed 3 funding rounds and attracted 5 investors. It develops next-gen vaccines against the influenza virus. Its secret to success is the recombinant DNA technology that boosts the efficiency of the vaccines.
Biotech companies strive to prolong the human life span as well as make people healthier and happier. They have a noble mission and can bring a very good income to their founders and investors.
Most new businesses in this industry are launched in the US. Compared to other regions of the planet, it’s much easier to find investors and professionals with relevant expertise in America. However, promising startups are founded in any part of the world: from China, India, and South Korea to Canada, Switzerland, and the UK.