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Market Opportunity Confirmation for Biomimetic Tissue Matrix Products

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BIOTIMA (Market Opportunity Confirmation for Biomimetic Tissue Matrix Products)

Reporting period: 2015-02-01 to 2015-07-31

A variety of in vitro human tissue models are used in the fields of testing of cosmetics products, drug discovery and regenerative medicine. However, many models made from artificial materials do not properly reflect the native human tissue morphology and cell environment. Ferentis scientists have developed an innovative patent-pending hydrogel material comprised of functionalized natural polymers. It is cell-friendly, stable, biocompatible, optically clear scaffold material, amenable to nanoengineering and microfabrication techniques. It allows us to create functionally modified products for a variety of lab tissue experiment applications, thereby reducing the use of animals in product testing and biological research. To date, Ferentis has been mostly focusing on the technology and product development aspects, while an in-depth understanding of the target markets, competitive environment, production scale up and a number of other aspects that comprise areas of a business plan was neded. To address these areas, a number of external specialist resources were needed (IP specialists, market research specialists and reports, etc.), as well as re-directing some of the actvitities of the company management to focus more on the commercial-strategic acpects of the company development. The objective of the BIOTIMA project was to develop a feasibility study by addressing specific areas (market analysis, production scale-up and sales strategy development) where FRN resources and skills are lacking.
With the help of a specialist market research consulting company, a thorough market and competitive analysis was undertaken to define and quantify the target segments for application of tissue models, prioritize them in terms of short and long term entry strategy, to determine the optimal product offering & positioning for target markets. The competitive analysis has resulted not only in much more thorough knowledge of competitors and their products, but also in an improved understanding of the competitive situation and confirmation of key differentiation points for BIOTIMA tissue matrix products.
Demand analysis and use case confirmation was also undertaken as part of the project, which resulted in customer visits across the globe and interview sessions to better understand the customers’ context, needs and motivations. This resulted not only in elaborated product specifications for target customer groups, but also in continuing validation and partnership projects with these customers. The aspects of marketing and sales strategy, production and operations, regulatory environment, organisational alignment, IP strategy and risk analysis were also elaborated. Although a number of issues for further development were identified (some requiring new approaches), the overall market opportunity was successfully confirmed.
The key result of our product was a commercialization feasibility study and an elaborated business plan. It will serve as a roadmap for scaling-up and market replication, as well as the document for seeking further external investment for execution of our strategy.

During the process of preparing the feasibility study and the business plan, we have been able to devote considerable time and access a vast number of research materials, as well as customer/user insight and feedback, and better understand the industrial and research state of the art. The above activities confirmed our main business idea- that the hydrogel technology platform which Ferentis is developing is unique and highly desirable due to the combination of key important factors. Furthermore, the overall market opportunity was successfully confirmed by establishing that a) there are sizeable and growing market segments in tissue matrix and 3D cell culture products, b) there is substantial demand for unique features and capabilities of our technology platform and c) there are technologies available (although still in emerging stage) for advanced manufacturing and scale-up of the business model. Finally, a financial model was developed, taking into account the projected sales, associated operating expenses, capital expenditures and financing required, resulting in financial projections and pro-forma financial statements for the next 7 years. The company’s projections show a profitable financial opportunity creating value for the company’s stakeholders.

After this feasibility study and business plan, we intend to make some quick improvements in a few critical areas, and start approaching the investors to take the company forward. Translating our tissue matrix product prototypes into industrial scale production continues to be a major challenge. This will require establishment of tissue matrix materials’ nano engineering processes and the setup of advanced manufacturing systems, where advanced engineering expertise will be needed. This suggests financial funds needed for further development, and the company will now engage in the finance raising activities, from both private and public sources. The financial resources raised will accelerate bringing our cross-sectorial innovation to market, create jobs, revenue and profits for the company, and benefits for the industry and society.

The SME Instrument program has been a very valuable excercise. Aside from the financial support received, which allowed us to procure specialist services, visit our (potential) technology users/clients worldwide, attend forums and conferences where we could gather the needed intelligence, the project has discplined the management team to focus our efforts and activities on very specific tasks leading to the feasibility study and the business plan. Business coaching has also been a very valuable excercise, where an outside expert's view allowed us to take a slightly different look at the company development and strategy. As a beneficiary of the SME Instrument, we have opted to participate in an investment readiness assessment which was particularly useful, and even contributed to some of our work on the feasibility study (i.e. risk analysis and mitigation plan).
BIOTIMA Hydrogel disks
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