Synthelis raises funding

Synthelis, a company specializing in the production and characterization of therapeutic targets and antigens, has secured initial backing from a group of French investors. Backers include Rhone-Alpes Creation, Alpes Developpement Durable Investissement, Sud Rhone-Alpes Capital, Viaduc and the Savoy and Grenoble Business Angels networks.


Synthelis, a company specializing in the production and characterization of therapeutic targets and antigens, announces today that it has secured initial backing of EUR 610,000 from a group of French investors comprising Rhone-Alpes Creation, Alpes Developpement Durable Investissement (A2D-Invest), Sud Rhone-Alpes Capital, Viaduc and the Savoy and Grenoble Business Angels networks.

The aim of this initial round of funding is to speed up the development of toll manufacturing services for membrane proteins for use by R&D departments in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. The funding also gives the company scope to consolidate and expand its functional and structural characterization services.

“This investment is an important step for Synthelis, allowing us to strengthen our team of scientists and invest in essential new equipment to optimize production and enhance our services,” explains Bruno Tillier, CEO of Synthelis. “Synthelis can now accelerate its commercial development, both in France and internationally.”

Founded in 2011 by Bruno Tillier to build on Professor Jean-Luc Lenormand’s work at the TIMC-TheREx laboratory, part of the Universite Joseph Fourier in Grenoble, France, Synthelis develops and leverages an innovative patented technology for the acellular production of membrane proteins in the presence of liposomes. The technology preserves the structure and the natural properties of these molecules, along with their ‘transportability’. This removes a major technological stumbling block in bio-production: previously, faithful reproductions of natural membrane proteins were difficult to manufacture in sufficient quantities.

Membrane proteins account for 60 per cent of current therapeutic targets. These membrane proteins (so called because they are embedded in the membrane which separates the cell’s internal and external environments) play a role in ensuring that the cell – and therefore the organism as a whole – functions properly. Membrane protein abnormalities are also implicated in many diseases such as cancers, neuro-degenerative diseases and metabolic, genetic, immune and inflammatory disorders. In 2012, the market in which Synthelis currently operates – R&D services for the pharmaceutical industry – was valued at EUR 20 billion, with an annual growth rate of 13 per cent (source: Equity Research).

“We are pleased to be contributing to the development plans of what is a very promising young company. This is a classic case of a start-up founded on a technology coming out of a university laboratory needing financial support to make its mark as a leader in its field. The role of regional funds such as Rhone Alpes Creation and the Business Angels is to help innovative businesses like Synthelis,” adds Gwenael Hamon, senior business manager at Rhone Alpes Creation.

In two years, Synthelis has produced over 50 membrane proteins as part of more than 20 projects undertaken in conjunction with internationally-renowned pharmaceutical organizations. The success rate for protein expression across all the work undertaken by Synthelis to date is in excess of 90 per cent.

Once the initial commercial objectives have been achieved, new investment is planned in order to industrialize Synthelis’ acellular procedure and consolidate its leading position in this market. The funding will open up the market for contract manufacturing services, complementing and ensuring continuity with the existing contract research offering.

About Synthelis
Synthelis is a company specializing in the production, purification and characterization of membrane proteins. It tackles a significant bio-production challenge by providing expertise in the toll expression of membrane proteins. The company provides services to produce these biomolecules in soluble form or as active proteoliposomes. They can then be used in the development of new therapeutic treatments and vaccines; in screening for candidate drugs and in characterizing ligand/receptor interactions, in diagnosis and structural biology, and in the development of antibodies.
Synthelis is based in La Tronche, France, and employs nine staff members. It was co-founded in January 2011 by Bruno Tillier and Professor Jean-Luc Lenormand of the TIMC-TheREx laboratory at the Universite Joseph Fourier (UJF) in Grenoble, France and after a period of incubation at UJF’s Floralis subsidiary.
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About Rhone-Alpes Creation
Rhone-Alpes Creation has provided financial backing for innovative projects for over 24 years. They do so by taking equity interests in new companies to fund the initial phases of their development. Rhone-Alpes Creation is pivotal in the provision of seed capital. It has EUR 44 million of funds under management, plus the support of the Rhone-Alpes region and banks in the French city of Lyon. An active team of eight manages a portfolio of over 50 interests.
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About Alpes Developpement Durable Investissement (A2D-Invest)
Alpes Developpement Durable Investissement (A2D-Invest) is one of two local capital investment subsidiaries of the French banking institution Banque Populaire des Alpes (the other being Expansinvest). Founded in 2009, AD2-Invest makes equity investments in the capital of early venture-stage technology SMEs in the Rhone-Alpes region. Typically they involve renewable energies, environmental compliance or projects that build on advances in the fields of medicine and biotechnology. AD2-Invest and Expansinvest manage a portfolio of around 70 equity interests.
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About SudRhoneAlpes Capital
SudRhoneAlpes Capital is a capital investment company founded by French bank Credit Agricole Sud Rhone-Alpes to meet the need for capital support for businesses within its geographical remit at key stages of their development.
A local investment company and a key player in the region, SudRhoneAlpes Capital supports entrepreneurs within its geographical remit in their plans for development, innovation or business acquisition, with a view to building sustainable partnerships.
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About Viaduc Participations
Viaduc Participations is an investment fund founded in 2006. It enables individuals to invest and get involved in the development of SMEs in the context of shared risk and participatory risk management.
The fund holds thirty equity interests. It invests between EUR 500,000 and EUR 1 million each year in businesses based in France’s Rhone-Alpes or Ile de France regions. The fund has more than 70 active shareholders. It is led by a team of associates with significant professional investment experience. Viaduct Participations monitor and provide ongoing assistance to the businesses in which it invests. The fund is fully independent and takes an entrepreneurial, committed approach to its active support of these companies.

About Savoie Angels
Founded at the end of 2006, Savoie Angels is an association dedicated to local investment. Its aim is to promote regional development and job creation by providing hands-on support and financial backing to the founders of innovative regional businesses. It boasts six investment funds and comprises over 160 members. One of France’s five largest associations, Savoie Angels leads the way on the national stage in terms of investments made by funds.

About Grenoble Angels
Founded in 2005 on the initiative of the Grenoble Chamber of Commerce, the purpose of the Grenoble Angels is to contribute to local economic development with sustained commitment from local investors. Today, the association is a federation of 160 members representing all business sectors with a presence in the region.
Grenoble Angels takes equity stakes in an average of 15 companies a year at an average of EUR 250,000 per stake. Since it was founded in 2005, the group has made direct investments of EUR 16 million and has co-invested EUR 65 million in 75 businesses which have benefited from the support of the Grenoble Angels and the GAP sas and GAP sas II investment funds, contributing to the creation of nearly 2,500 jobs.