Univercells was created in Belgium in 2013 with one mission : making biologics available to all. Discover how the company and team has grown and continues to evolve closer to that goal
Experienced entrepreneurs Hughes Bultot and José Castillo establish Univercells in 2013. After several successes in the biotechnology and life sciences sectors, they seek the development of technologies in order to have a direct and meaningful impact on the way biologics are manufactured worldwide.
Proof of Concept & kick-off commercial operations
Univercells R&D activities commence in Gosselies, leading to a successful demonstration of its technology principle. The company focuses on its commercial deployment benefiting from its founders’ understanding and expertise of the Life Sciences industry.
Kick-off R&D activities in the Biopark Charleroi
While keeping its Brussels office, dedicated to business and administration teams, Univercells moves its corporate HQ in Wallonia to establish itself at the i-Tech Incubator in the Biopark Charleroi (Brussels South). Here, Univercells’ growth is fostered by the incubator’s ecosystem, full of cutting-edge and flourishing technology companies, opening access to new avenues for growth and collaboration. “In terms of Life Sciences, the Biopark helps us to create and consolidate synergies with a series of pertinent stakeholders, as well as benefitting from the site’s existing facilities.” – Hugues Bultot, CEO
Successful capital increase
After receiving its first substantial injection of capital by closing a €3M investment with Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, Limited, through its strategic venture arm Takeda Ventures, Inc., Univercells is now able to take its first big steps forward to work towards the expansion and evolution of its efforts and products to further revolutionize the biologics industry.
Inauguration of Univercells laboratory
Univercells rings in the holiday as it toasts to the inauguration of its first laboratory established to pursue commercial development of its technologies in Gosselies. With the inauguration of its laboratory in the i-Tech incubator of the Biopark of Charleroi (Belgium), Univercells assembles an international team of the best, brightest and experienced specialists from various fields dedicated to R&D and customer projects.
Viral platform commercial development
Based on the recent completion of the Universcale R&D project, funded by the Public Service of Wallonia - Operational Direction of Economy, Employment and Research (DGO6), Univercells achieves a successful proof of concept for its vaccine manufacturing platform. Over the year 2016, the company puts strong emphasis on securing support and partner organizations aligning with its mission and goals to develop its vaccine platform.
Univercells Receives $12 Million Grant to Develop Breakthrough Vaccine Manufacturing Platform
Univercells is awarded by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation a $12 m grant to establish a microfacility for inactivated polio vaccine (sIPV) that can deliver 40 million doses of trivalent vaccine per year at a manufacturing cost of less than $0.15 per dose. The development is to be performed by a consortium which also includes Batavia Biosciences and Natrix Separations.
Recombinant platform development
With the viral platform now under commercial development, Univercells focuses on the second pillar/application of its technology – its recombinant proteins platform. Armed with several successful R&D proofs of concept, Univercells engages in a commercial partnership for a first roll-out of this promising solution, to provide affordable life-saving treatment.
Inauguration of extended facilities and laboratories
Univercells’ continued and fruitful advancement allows it to grow, facilitated and accompanied by the expansion of its facility space in Gosselies’ Biopark. The new extended laboratory, now encompassing three times the initial space in the Biopark, boosting its overall capabilities, now hosts the development of its recombinant protein technology.
€3M Series A2 funding
Univercells closes out the €3 million capital increase for its second Series-A equity financing round led by US & EU-based equipment development and vaccine industry executives, and Belgian entrepreneurs. This capital accelerates development and commercialization of the company’s platforms and solutions, aiding its viral platforms’ commercial roll-out and its recombinant platform completion. The support from such seasoned industry experts will contribute in positioning Univercells’ innovative solutions on the global market
€2.4M grant from Walloon region for “Universimilar”program
The Walloon government grants Univercells €2.4M to launch its “Universimilar” program that focuses on the design of next-generation production technologies to reduce manufacturing costs, deliver large quantities and answer the growing market demand for antibodies. The resulting low-footprint, high-capacity production units are affordable to build and operate, and easily deployable worldwide, providing access to high-quality biologics independent of location.
Univercells opens Nivelles facility
Due to its burgeoning growth, Univercells expands its activities and starts operations at its new Equipment Design & Production Center in Nivelles, Belgium. This new facility fosters the broader development of its successful manufacturing platform and lets visitors experience firsthand its micro-facility proof of concept to learn more about the groundbreaking impact of its innovative technology.
€16M Series B funding to support Univercells’ revolutionary biomanufacturing technology
Univercells closes out a Series B financing round of €16M led by Global Health Investment Fund, a public health-focused R&D fund, joined by Korea Investment Partners, Inventures Investment Partners, impact Venture Capital, The Innovation Fund, and private investors federated by TheClubDeal SA. This support will enable the commercialization of a diversified portfolio of technology solutions for a variety of vaccines, monoclonal antibodies and enzyme replacement therapies, with the first products available for human use for next year.
Univercells announces the commercial launch of its proprietary NevoLine™ bioproduction system for vaccines. The system was initially developed as part of a $12M Grand Challenges grant awarded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to deliver affordable inactivated polio vaccine (sIPV). Leading the consortium, Univercells was responsible for the NevoLine system, Batavia Biosciences for the polio manufacturing process and Merck for the purification membrane. After attaining its goals of delivering a very low Cost of Goods for an sIPV below $0.30 per trivalent dose, the consortium has now received a $4M grant extension to scale-up the manufacturing system and process in preparation for clinical and commercial application.
Univercells granted $14.3M to deliver affordable measles & rubella vaccines
After a first successful project to deliver affordable polio vaccines, Univercells has been awarded a new grant of $14.3 million by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to increase the availability of measles and rubella (M&R) vaccines in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Univercells will adapt the process design of its proprietary NevoLine™ platform to deliver affordable M&R vaccines.