Bioprinting machine manufacturer Inventia Life Science has opened its first U.S. office and facility at Delaware NGO The Innovation Space. The Sydney, Australia-based startup will benefit from the rich life sciences ecosystem in the Mid-Atlantic region and Delaware’s strong reputation for attracting engineers, chemists, and other talented scientists that will contribute to the brand’s digital bioprinting technology for fast, scalable, and reproducible printing of realistic 3D human tissues for drug and therapy research applications.
Inventia Grows Bioprinting Business
Located at the century-old Experimental Station in Wilmington – one of the country’s first industrial research laboratories – Inventia’s new space will allow closer support to its customers in North America and tap into a large talent pool. Ahead of the new office opening, the company had already started growing its local workforce by hiring former GE Healthcare manager Dwayne Dexter as U.S. director of sales and operations last year, along with a solid base team composed of newly appointed Roger Malerba as associate manager of business development and operations, Whitney Symons as customer success manager, and Diane Filo as sales consultant.
Growing its global team from roughly 40 employees to 150 by the end of 2024 is among Inventia’s top priorities and is possible thanks to a $25 million funding round raised in early 2022 that allowed the company to expand to the U.S., where the biomedical research and drug discovery markets are estimated to be worth more than $40 billion by 2030.
Driven by strong international demand from leading research institutes and top global pharmaceutical companies, Inventia sees excellent potential in the U.S. for its 3D cell culture platform, the Rastrum. Dexter indicated that the startup was initially attracted to Delaware due to its rich life sciences environment, which hosts many of the world’s largest life science companies, including Astra Zeneca, Siemens Healthineers (which recently announced that it is expanding in the state), Incyte, Agilent, Corteva and FMC.
A Bioprinting Biome in Deleware
That’s not all; a 2021 report released by Delaware Prosperity Partnership and the Delaware BioScience Association found that Delaware’s growing life sciences industry generates an annual economic impact of more than $2 billion for the state. At the time of the study’s publication, Delaware Bio President Michael Fleming said that the state’s bioscience sector has never been stronger thanks to growth across every facet of the sector, including private businesses, training programs, increased R&D investment, and expanding manufacturing capacity.
Home for science entrepreneurs, The Innovation Space is quickly becoming the First State’s latest hub. Formed from a public-private partnership between the State of Delaware, DuPont, and the University of Delaware in 2017, the space started with 100,000 square feet of multi-use lab space at DuPont’s Experimental Station campus in Wilmington, and in early 2022 added a 50,000 square feet expansion of Class A laboratory and offices.
In addition to lab space, the Innovation Space offers funding, growth partners, and business support for the companies based there, including its First Fund investment program, four-month Science Inc. accelerator, and Spark Factory mentoring program. Some startups that have labs at The Innovation Space are Versogen, Carbon Reform, and Prelude Therapeutics, which raised $60 million in VC funding in 2019.
Describing Inventia as a new growth client, The Innovation Space President and Founder William Provine said, “We are already working collectively with the Inventia team to rapidly accelerate their global growth. The Innovation Space is fully equipped with the facilities, expertise, and networks to bolster the international capabilities of Inventia in order to enable them to build the value of their company and exceed customer expectations.”
Inventia’s Bioprinting Technology
Since launching in 2013, Inventia has grown its team to support a broad list of customers, mostly locally based in Sydney. Its flagship hot pink Rastrum system results from years of research and is built around digital bioprinting technology for fast, scalable, and reproducible printing of 3D cell constructs. For example, it can greatly benefit the pharmaceutical industry by allowing new drugs to be tested in a 3D cellular environment and eliminated, if necessary, long before they reach the clinical trial stages. By reducing the risk of drugs failing once they enter human clinical trials, pharmaceutical companies can save hundreds of millions of dollars on the cost of bringing a successful drug to market (one of the industry’s biggest challenges).
Similarly, researchers can now work at scale with cell models that mimic the human body almost exactly and produce research results that are more accurate and predictive than before. Thanks to a combination of speed and precision, Rastrum can build cell models in a matter of hours that can’t otherwise be created. More importantly, Inventia Co-founder and CEO Julio Ribeiro told 3DPrint.com in a 2020 interview that the device “is gentle and uses fewer cells than other 3D cell model approaches, which is beneficial when handling precious patient-derived cells or sensitive neural cells.”
Although Inventia’s had the upper hand as the premier bioprinting startup in Australia, the U.S. market could turn out to be much more competitive. This is because most of Australia’s advances in bioprinting technologies have come from researchers in academia, institutes, and university hospitals, such as the University of New South Wales, the University of Melbourne, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Queensland University of Technology, and primarily Australia’s University of Wollongong, led by world-renowned bioprinting expert Gordon Wallace. Instead, the U.S. is a leading force in bioprinting, hosting 40% of the total companies in the industry.
Until now, the pink printer has won one of Australia’s major design awards, the prestigious 2019 Good Design Award of the Year. In addition, it has been used in a wide range of research areas by Inventia customers and collaborators, particularly in immuno-oncology cancer research on solid tumors looking at the interaction of the immune cells with cancer cells, as well as for drug screening to study the interaction between drugs and cells, making this distinguishable pink machine a new contender in the U.S. market.