Uni.Fund recently invested €400,000 in EnzyQuest, the first company operating in the field of enzymatic biotechnology in Southeast Europe. EnzyQuest is headquartered in the Scientific and Technological Park of Crete and was established in 2019 with the aim to develop enzymes and reagents used in research methods in Biotechnology.
The founding team of the company consists of scientists of FORTH and executives with experience in Innovation and Technology Transfer in Greece and the USA. Dr. Dimitris Koutsioulis, EnzyQuest’s CEO, was a lead scientist at Minotech Biotechnology at FORTH involved in the development of molecular biology products- and a member of New England Biolabs in Boston. He has developed over 20 enzymatic products currently on the market. Sotiris Xydis, EnzyQuest’s Operations Sales Manager, has extensive experience in the field of Technology Transfer and Innovation in industrial and research organizations as well as in companies active in the health sector. Lambros Kourtis, Head of Business Development, has launched several biotechnology, materials science, and digital health startups in Boston and San Francisco. He is a consultant at Gates Ventures, Evidation Health, and Eli Lilly. Giannis Vlatakis, Manager, holds a PhD from the University of Crete and has extensive experience in the field of Molecular Biology.
There is an increased global demand on molecular biology enzymes and on optimized versions, due to the introduction and broad use of molecular diagnosis and identification methods in the field of Health, Agri-food and Research. This trend has led to a substantial growth of the Molecular Biology Enzyme market which is estimated to be valued at $20B in 2020. COVID-19 outbreak is expected to further increase global demand. With 70 products already included in its portfolio, and more under development, EnzyQuest is entering the global market, focusing on the identification and discovery of enzymes with novel properties and pioneering applications from Extremophiles, i.e microorganisms that are able to grow optimally under very low or very high temperature, extreme pH, and high salinity. EnzyQuest has already signed a partnership agreement with FORTH for the commercialization of enzymes, and has developed a wide distribution network in Greece and Cyprus, which is currently expanding to Europe and Asia; at the same time, the company is working on the establishment of partnerships with renowned Research Centers and organizations in Greece and abroad.
Regarding the collaboration with Uni.Fund, Dr. Dimitris Koutsioulis says: “In our common course, Uni.Fund has always demonstrated immediacy and teamwork, helping us drive results. The fund played a key role in the transformation of our idea into a company and that makes it an integral part of our team.
With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, EnzyQuest started looking for ways to support the Greek ecosystem, through the production of enzymes required for the molecular diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2. Taking into consideration that in the next stage of the pandemic, diagnostic tests will be used in larger populations, the company decided to develop at least one diagnostic test that could be used to cover the domestic demand. As Sotiris Xydis states: “Our initial planning involved penetration in the global market. However, in just a few days, we decided to make a big shift in our business plan, and to use our knowledge and expertise in the battle against coronavirus. Our company is currently in the process of developing two types of molecular diagnostic kits that will be produced in Greece to cover domestic demand. To this end, we are collaborating with the Diagnostic Laboratory of the Veterinary School of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, as well as with other innovative companies, such as Nanoplasmas (which is also included in Uni.Fund’s portfolio).