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Pluriomics: how European funding supports an innovative SME in the healthcare biotechnology sector

June 21 2016

For a while now, EU funding and support is available to enable innovation projects that will help them grow and expand their activities into other countries in various dedicated programmes. Specifically, for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), these so called SME Instrument grants have great potential to expedite product development, market introduction and increase the geographic scale of marketing.

European funds/SME instruments can have a tremendous impact on companies and the story of an excellent example of that:

Dr. Stefan Braam, CEO of Pluriomics (Leiden, the Netherlands).

Pluriomics’ mission is to develop stem cell-based assays for cardiac safety pharmacology and drug discovery and development. To this end, Pluriomics established a unique proprietary protocol to differentiate heart muscle cells derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs). The company provides its customers with reliable cell technology systems to test potential drugs in the preclinical phase with high predictive value. The recently acquired SME Instrument (€3.2M) provides an important stepping stone for Pluriomics to tackle the challenges that remain to become global market leader in cardiac cell-based assays. In line with this, the main objectives of the project are (a) to further upscale our quality controlled manufacturing process and (b) to further develop novel translational cardiac high throughput assays to screen for safety and disease modifying effects of compounds. Together this provides Pluriomics with the opportunity to ensure a substantial market share in the fast growing hiPSC cell-based cardiac safety pharmacology and cardiac drug efficacy testing market. Moreover, it will also support the establishment of additional strategic collaborations with pharma partners and key academic opinion leaders.

Our collaboration with ttopstart in this project has been of great added value, because they perfectly understood the fit of Pluriomics’ mission with the cell technologies SME Instrument call (SMEInst-05-2016-2017: Supporting innovative SMEs in the healthcare biotechnology sector). Additionally, they really helped us by highlighting the important messages and simplifying the story as much as possible without comprising on quality. Therefore, we have perceived our collaboration as much more than just supporting us with the writing of the grant, and rather as a partnership.

To conclude, some important lessons for SMEs in general and the SME Instruments in particular that we have identified are:

  • Many different SME Instruments exist  (as well as other funding schemes: Eurostars and the SME Innovation Associate and a range of R&D programmes where the involvement of SMEs is crucial (e.g. the Personalised Medicine topics and FET-OPEN), so explore and brainstorm to find the most optimal fit to your company’s mission.
  • The balance between R&D and commercial activities is extremely important, also keep an eye on this when you compose your budget.
  • Avoid academic jargon, be and think commercial, the market is an end goal but should be on the radar from the start.


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Patrick de Boer, MSc
+31 (0)653897487