In these unprecedented times, SMEs across Europe are facing profound transformation processes in which the technological challenges are becoming ever greater and, at the same time, the need of embracing the twin (digital and green) transition needs to be tackled quickly and decisively. Therefore, a strong positioning on the national and international market is a crucial success factor for small and medium-sized enterprises. External support through cooperations can be an important factor, but these are rarely free or without strings attached.
The Vanguard Initiative and its initiated SME Success Stories support program precisely tackles these challenges. Three Enterprises (AddCat B.V., Remembrane Srl. and Bond High-Performance 3D Technology) have been selected and supported by building cross-regional innovation practices. The program aimed to promote the participation of these companies in the activities of the Vanguard Initiative in order to foster interregional value chains and accelerate market adoption of their products and services.
The selected companies not only benefited from the strong network and experience of the Vanguard Initiative experts, but were also able to stimulate and expand interregional partnerships and collaborations in the Vanguard regions through an innovation voucher.
We met with a representative of one of the selected companies, Remembrane, to discuss their experiences of the SME Success Stories Program and the story behind their enterprise.
To start off, could you give us some more information about the story behind the creation of your company?
Remembrane is a European SME that was incorporated in 2010 with the mission to lead the cell culture technology a step forward. The idea behind the creation of the company was to create our products around the consideration that the cell membrane network and its lipid composition is a cornerstone of cell physiology. We’ve gone a long way since the creation of the SME, and we have now developed a product, Refeed, designed to boost key performance parameters of any kind of cultured cells.
And that product, Refeed, is currently commercialized?
Yes – Refeed is now commercialized and used by many international customers of the pharmaceutical and industrial biotechnology sectors, with main applications in the fields of biomanufacturing, in-vitro testing, advanced therapies. We have top notch R&D and production facilities fully equipped to fit the needs of our customers, from research and analysis to manufacturing, ultimately producing a GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) grade product for clinical applications.
Would you say that the SME success stories program provided opportunities to develop it further?
We became aware of the Vanguard SME Success Stories program through a newsletter from our regional innovation center. Then we looked specifically at it on the Vanguard website. We saw the possibility to perform a project we had in mind with a European partner in order to evaluate the possibility to set up a new product of our catalogue. The strengthening of the relationship with the partner was also of primary importance.
Could you say a few words about how your collaboration with that partner was of added-value for Remembrane?
At Remembrane, we develop and manufacture Refeed mixtures, but we needed a partner to perform full scale tests of Refeed on a specific type of protein. Our partner was Acies Bio d.o.o.m, a Slovenian-based SME. They are a reserch-focused microbial biotechnology company, dedicated to the development of efficient microbial sustainable production processes with decades of experience in industrial fermentation development.
The relationship between Remembrane and Acies Bio, boosted by the Vanguard project, can easily evolve into a business relationship, where they adopt and makes use of the ready-to-use Refeed product for their manufacturing process. On top of this, new projects on other cells types used in their biomanufacturing processes can potentially emerge and strengthen our relationship.
The SME success stories program helped us in starting our collaboration with Acies Bio, through designing and performing the first two experiments of the project. But the collaboration is still ongoing with the ultimate goal of setting up a new product for our catalogue. The Vanguard Initiative gave the spark to our collaboration, which we hope will last for a long time.
Given the experience that you had during this partnership and throughout the program, would you endorse and recommend it with regards to innovation support?
The SME Success stories program really gave us the the possibility to start a collaboration with a European partner and to have access to technology and know-how that is hard to find elsewhere. Throughout the program, the SME Success Stories team did a great job in supporting us and we would definitely endorse and recommend the program.