Created in 2011, the programme Mind the Gap promotes biotechnology entrepreneurship to enable technologies with commercial potential, developed by Spanish scientific institutions, to reach the market to generate social and economic development. Its objective is to bridge the gap that separates science from business and society.
To this end, the Mind the Gap programme selects incipient business projects based on technologies in the life sciences area generated in Spanish research institutions, to which it provides:
- Financial investment of up to a maximum of € 500,000 per project for a maximum period of two years.
- Accompaniment to the project, , through a specific methodology to support maturation, which includes the incorporation of an expert advisor appointed by the Botin Foundation, who will provide guidance and support in those critical aspects to convert projects arising in the academic field into viable business initiatives.
Since 2017, Mind the Gap chas a new co-financing vehicle in which, in addition to the Botin Foundation, a group of private investors who contribute capital to finance the projects participates, this being a pioneering initiative on the national scene that demonstrates the capacity of Spanish science to attract private capital.
Requirements to participate
The Mind the Gap Programme is aimed at the following types of project promoters:
- Spanish non-profit research institutions dedicated to scientific research, including universities, public research organizations and, in general, public or private research centres, with international prestige.
- Companies interested in promoting and encouraging projects based on knowledge and / or technology owned by a Spanish research institution.
Each promoting entity can present one or more projects that meet the following conditions:
- They belong to the field of life and health sciences
- They must be able to reach sufficient maturity within a maximum period of two years to attract partners and additional resources to ensure the continuity of the business project.
- They will be based on knowledge or technology developed by a Spanish research institution (under sole or shared ownership).
- Its expected results must have a clear positive socio-economic impact.
- They should be in a development phase such that they have confirmed a solid scientific-technological base and show a high potential in terms of commercial viability, but require additional tests and studies that limit the risk to acceptable levels for the industry or capital.
- The investment requested will never exceed € 250,000 gross per year, or € 500,000 gross in a total period of two years.
Mind the Gap portfolio
Diagnostic company dedicated to the measurement of telomeres, chromosomal structures whose length is an indicator of cellular aging and are used as a biomarker in the establishment of biological age, the early detection of chronic diseases and risk stratification. Project based on the results of the laboratory of Dr. María Blasco (National Center for Oncological Research).
Project for the development of an innovative test for colorectal cancer with application in personalised medicine, which would allow improvements in the current treatment selection protocol. Based on the results of the group of Dr. Eduard Batlle (Institut de Recerca Biomèdica de Barcelona).
Company whose objective is to collaborate with companies dedicated to the development of drugs and molecules of biotechnological interest, supporting the initial phases of drug discovery to reduce costs, time and risk, increasing the reliability of research through methods based on supercomputing. Based on the research of Dr. Modesto Orozco (Institut de Recerca Biomèdica de Barcelona).
Company based on Varstiff® technology, a patented textile material, with variable flexibility by adjusting its internal pressure, whose properties allow the development of innovative products in various sectors. Technology developed by Dr. Jan Veneman from Tecnalia Research & Innovation.
Company created to exploit a novel technology for the manufacture of hydrogels capable of releasing molecules in a controlled manner, the first applications of which are being developed in the ophthalmological field: contact lenses loaded with emollient and / or therapeutic substances. Based on the results of Drs. Carmen Alvarez and Angel Concheiro (University of Santiago de Compostela).
The Innitius company is dedicated to the development of in-vivo diagnostic technologies based on the use of torsional ultrasound. They are currently developing the Fine Birth device for the early and effective diagnosis of pathologies associated with childbirth: premature birth and induction of labour. Technology developed by Drs. Guillermo Rus and Francisca Molina (University of Granada / Andalusian Health Service).
The company EpiDisease is focused on diagnosis based on epigenetic techniques. In addition to offering epigenetic analysis services, it is developing the ScoliPro® device, a new molecular test that will make it possible to diagnose idiopathic scoliosis in adolescents (EIA) with high sensitivity and specificity, as well as to decide the follow-up and treatment of these patients in a more precise in a more specific way.
The Cyclomed company is developing a compact cyclotron for the on-site production of radiopharmaceuticals. Cyclomed technology enables the production of molecules labelled with the Carbon-11 isotope to improve PET imaging and for biological traceability studies of new drugs. Technology developed by Dr. Luis García-Tabarés (Center for Energy, Environmental and Technological Research).
The Vaxdyn company is developing a vaccine against antibiotic-resistant bacteria (known as “superbugs”), one of the main global threats according to the WHO, with an estimated cost of 10 million lives per year in 2050. The vaccine under development is aimed at the three bacteria that cause half of all resistant infections. Technology developed by Drs. Jerónimo Pachón and Michael McConnell at the Institute of Biomedicine in Seville.
MiWEndo Solutions is developing a novel medical device based on microwave imaging technology that can be used during colonoscopies to facilitate the identification of malignant polyps, precursors of cancer. The objective is to improve the early detection of colorectal cancer to reduce its incidence and mortality. Technology developed by a multidisciplinary team of researchers from the Pompeu Fabra University, the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, the Barcelona Clinical Hospital and the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA).
Biotechnology company founded to improve the delivery of drugs to the central nervous system through a new, patented and peptide-based technology. The first product in development is a therapy against a currently incurable pediatric brain tumor, diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG). Technology developed by Drs. Ernest Giralt and Meritxell Teixidó, with a multidisciplinary team of researchers from the Institute for Biomedical Research (IRB Barcelona), the University of Barcelona and the Sant Joan de Déu Research Institute – Sant Joan de Déu Hospital.
Oniria Therapeutics is a biopharmaceutical company in the preclinical phase that is developing first-in-class drugs in the field of precision oncology to eliminate persistent tumour cells, which are responsible for patients progressing into the fatal phases of cancer. Oniria Therapeutics has conducted preclinical studies on various drugs activators of TET2, proving their efficacy in animal models for colon cancer, melanoma and acute myeloid leukaemia. TET2 is a Achilles heel of persistent tumour cells, and Oniria’s new drugs are attacking specifically such vulnerability.
The company was established in 2021 as a spin-off of the Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO), University of Barcelona (UB) and ICREA. Oniria is based at the Cellex Centre in the Vall d’Hebron hospital campus in Barcelona. ))
Mind the Gap´s first divestment occurred in 2018, with the sale of Fundación Botin’s stake in DREAMgenics S.L. This company is dedicated to the development and exploitation of bioinformatics products and services aimed at the application of knowledge about the human genome, medical diagnosis and basic and pre-clinical research. The analysis tools are based on the work developed by Dr. Carlos López-Otín (University of Oviedo).
Leon Bushara, Chair
Leon Bushara has worked in the biotechnology industry since 1993, when he joined Serono (Geneva, Switzerland), Europe’s largest biotechnology company until its acquisition by Merck in 2006. During more than twelve years at Serono, he held management positions of increasing responsibility, ultimately as Senior Executive Vice President of Corporate & Business Development and a member of Serono’s Executive Management Board.
In 2006, Leon was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Astex Therapeutics (Cambridge, England). Astex was a pioneer in the field of fragment‐based drug discovery, a platform it used to discover a number of compounds currently in development by Astex or partner companies, including Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and GSK. In 2017, Novartis launched Kisqali®, a CDK4/6 inhibitor discovered in partnership with Astex, for the treatment of certain types of breast cancer. Astex was acquired by Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. in 2013 for $886 million, following a prior merger between Astex and Supergen in 2011. During the last ten years, Bushara has been a board member and advisor to various companies and investors in the bio-pharmaceutical field.
He holds a BA (Hons.) degree from Brown University with concentrations in Economics and English & American Literature, and is a U.S. national.))
Pilar de la Huerta
Pilar de la Huerta has accumulated an extensive experience in the pharma and biotech sector over the last 25 years. Pilar holds a Master Degree in Business and Administration by the UCM and has completed the IESE’s Advanced Management Program (AMP) and Program for Management Development (PMD) courses in the Navarra University.
She started her career in the biotech sector in 1999 as CFO of Zeltia Group, which at the time was the biggest publicly listed biotech company in Spain, raising more than 230M euros in 2000. Since then, Pilar has been the CEO of a number of biotech companies, Spanish and European, listed and unlisted. She served as board member of more than twenty listed and private European companies during the last 15 years.
Pilar currently holds the position of CEO of the Healthcare area in the industrial and technological business group “Arquimea Group”, CFO and board member of the German listed biotech company Biofrontera AG, she is part of the board and chairwoman of the remuneration committee of 4BaseBio Ltd, listed at AIM, and board member of Epidisease S.L., Vaxdyn S.L., ANKAR Pharma S.L. and Atlas Molecular Pharma, S.L.
In 2021 she wrote the book “Entrepreneurship in biotechnology: From lab to public markets”, published in Spanish by LID editorial, as a practical guide for young entrepreneurs coming from the science environment to create a successful biotech company. She is also an associate professor at Francisco de Vitoria University in Madrid for several subjects related to management and finance in some sciences degrees. ))
Mirko de Melis
Mirko de Melis is a Sr. Research Manager & Technical Fellow in Medtronic coming from a diverse background as he started from a master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering deciding to then explore cross-over venues with a Ph.D. in Biomechanics and a post-doctoral position to deliver innovative non-contact technology for vital signs sensing. In parallel to cover his tuition fees, he worked as IT specialist and progressed to a marketing specialist role, an experience that offered a valuable different perspective from research.
Currently his main research focus, closely working with world renown clinical opinion leaders, is Diagnostics and Sensors feasibility research, ranging from idea generation to clinical assessment and validation in different arenas from Heart Failure to Atrial Fibrillation Management, from Myocardial Infarction to Sudden Death Prevention, including the management of related comorbidities like Diabetes and Neurovascular diseases.
Moreover he is coordinating multiple public private partnerships, including Horizon Europe and EIT Health, in order to complement Medtronic research roadmaps with external knowledge to offer the patients improved chances for a better outcome.))
Eva Méndez, PhD in biological sciences with more than 20 years of experience in academic and industrial biomedical research.
After the postdoctoral training in the University of Oslo, Eva joined Ferrer and become head of several R&D departments, being responsible for biotech, compound management and in vitro screening activities. She was a member of the team responsible for the identification and evaluation of new projects, project manager and scientific coordinator of multidisciplinary teams involving other companies and public institutions.
Currently working as an independent consultant, Eva collaborates with many research institutions, biotech companies, private foundations, investors and other stakeholders on different aspects related to biomedicine and drug discovery and strategy.
Among others, Eva is a Member of the Business Advisory Board of the Institute of Research in Biomedicine of Barcelona (IRB Barcelona) and advisor for European Collaborative Research Projects. She is also a founding member of the Spanish Drug Discovery Network (SDDN) and teaching staff in three biomedical official masters.))
Kerstin, has done her PhD at German Cancer Research Centre and Imperial College to work on novel treatment options within the field of tumour immunology.
She has since spent more than ten years in leadership roles at impact-driven organisations advancing medicine and therapeutics inducing LifeArc and the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, while also securing an executive MBA and a Women in Business Award.
She joined Deep Science Ventures in 2010, where she has been developing science companies designing more effective therapies as well as managing the pharma portfolio.))