Raising a successful seed round as a research spin-out
Spinning out from a University research project takes enormous effort, will, time– and capital. Raising a seed round for a complex, research-heavy startup takes just the right mix of timing, luck, educated investors and hard work. A mix, Aarhus-based Cystotech, recently succeeded in finding.
Two of the five co-founders of Cystotech, MD, CEO, Jacob Elmose Jensen, and Clinical Trial Manager,COO, Anna Munk Nielsen, have successfully spun out a solution to detect bladder cancer, from a research project at Aarhus University. Together with a strong team, they’re developing a support tool for bladder cystoscopy, using tech-based on Computer Vision and Deep Learning Artificial Intelligence.
The team knew, that getting investors to bite, meant bringing in more commercial competencies, which they found in their now co-founder and investor, Claus Hansen.
“Claus has become a part of the team because he has competencies that complement ours. He is used to think business strategic,”says Jacob, and points to the rest of the team’s more product-based and HealthTech-industry competencies.
With Claus taking lead, they started pitching to investors. In May this year, the Aarhus University spin-out landed a seed round from a local fund and syndicate of angels.
“The investors are bringing IT-competencies, regulatory competencies, and business strategy competencies to our team (…), it was not just a question of getting money, the investors are bringing important contacts and know-how,” says Anna.
Specialized investors are key in securing investments in spin-outs
The lead investor, Claus Hansen, has experience from co-founding and investing in multiple life-science startups. He has a personal ambition of utilising his expertise within the field to help more companies grow.
“Having lived and worked based out of Aarhus all my life I do have a personal ambition to bring Aarhus on the map on a larger scale within the Medtech & lifescience segment,” says Claus Hansen.
Through contacts in the Danish Business Angel network, DanBan, Claus helped convince other angels, why the company, Cystotech, was a good investment, arguing that “it was the composition of the team, the unmet clinical need that Cystotech is addressing and the opportunity to make a meaningful investment in a HealthTech start-up,” that convinced others to join the round.
The two co-founders of Cystotech underline the importance of Claus’ role in their first investment.
“Due to his large network Claus has been the link between us and the investors,” explains Jacob, and highlights Claus’ experience within the field as a key component in him being able to translate their science-heavy startup to more sector-agnostic Angels.
The journey is far from over
Looking toward the future, the co-founders have a clear ambition, “our dream is that this product will be put to use all over the world,” says Anna.
The team is looking into raising their next round in the spring 2023. Until then, they are staying closely connected to Aarhus University by developing their company on the top floor in The Kitchen.