This branch of our Sponsor Atlas series focuses on young pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies that are in early stages or stealth mode. In this edition of Sponsor Atlas: Discovering Biotech Startups, we’re looking at Montisera Ltd., exploring the current affairs and future orientation of this emerging Finnish biotech company. To accomplish this, we will give a business overview of their current operations, summarize their outsourcing needs, map out their development goals and decision-makers, and highlight their current strategies for capturing innovation. If you haven’t already read our other blogs on new biotech startups, be sure to check them out here.
Montisera, Ltd. (Montisera) is a Finnish, privately-owned development company focused on discovering, developing, and commercializing bioactive compounds from its development platform to be used in novel products in the pharmaceutical industry. Montisera’s focus is on the management of its global partner network of universities, science companies, laboratories, and contract research organizations (CROs).
Montisera is developing an array of novel therapeutics from its own and partners’ product platform in a broad range of disease areas. Montisera utilizes novel drug development strategy emphasising the power of cooperation between drug development companies, biotechnology companies, academies, individual scientists and investors. The principal place of business of this privately held biotechnology and drug discovery company has been in Turku, Finland since its inception in 2012. Data also shows that the company has an annual revenue of <$1M, and employs a staff of approximately 1-10. 
Montisera takes full advantage of bioactive molecules, by discovering the best assets of Finnish universities and research institutes, and turning them into active development projects and business cases. A lot of these projects are successful in product development and end up being fully developed into pharmaceuticals or bioeconomy-based active molecules and natural products. Their IPR portfolio consists of US and EU patents for CNS dependency disorder, and hot water extract for lower urinary tract disease prevention and care. Montisera was nominated as the company with the most potential for bio-economic growth in Finland in May 2017. The company has an internationally recognized Board of Directors, Scientific Advisory Board and Senior Advisors, which are also filled with professors with upper-hand knowledge of the field.
As one arm of the business, Montisera is currently developing multiple bioactive molecules in their product pipeline. Alongside the development of their own pipeline of molecules, Montisera’s second arm offers novel project based funding opportunities for investors in asset development programs. These assets are licensed to Montisera, and via funding programs, the original owner of the compounds, investors, and the new owner of the compounds can benefit from the successfully executed development projects.
We think business development teams in the realms of CMOs with Phase I-III CTM capabilities, preclinical CROs with experience in animal model development for lower urinary tract diseases or CNS related diseases, and bioanalytical service providers with expertise in isoquinoline derivatives should definitely contact Montisera for potential outsourcing work in the near future.
Montisera’s Pipeline and R&D Focus
Montisera currently has three bioactive compounds in its development platform in different stages of development. Montisera is in the early stages of compounds where the development cycle is rather short at only 1-3 years. The intellectual property of Montisera includes 5 registered patents primarily in the 'Medical Or Veterinary Science; Hygiene' category. Additionally, Montisera has registered 3 trademarks with the most popular class being 'Chemical Substances.' 
“Montisera has managed to build a patent portfolio from scratch in a surprisingly effective way. This is solely done by using our vast network of professionals - as in all of our action,” said Heikki Vuorikoski, Founder and Business Development Director of Montisera. 
In August 2014, Montisera announced a patent which covers the use of novel 6,7-disubstituted-isoquinoline derivatives as a medicament and particularly in the treatment of alcoholism, drug addiction and CNS related diseases. Montisera also announced that the European Patent Office intended to grant a patent for the novel 6,7-disubstituted-isoquinoline derivatives and medical use thereof. In May 2015, Montisera acquired the intellectual property rights for an extract having effect on lower urinary tract diseases. Then later in September 2019, Montisera announced that the Japanese and Russian patent offices had granted a patent for the company’s product Qusitol® - Wood hemicelluloses for use in the treatment of lower urinary tract symptoms and diseases.
- Jukka Mäkelä - CEO of Montisera, Jukka has over 30 years of professional experience. He has worked as VP, Business Development in Oriola Corporation and as Head of Business Area and Partner in Accenture. He is Chairman of the Board of Herralan Saha. He holds a Master’s degree in Business Economics. Jukka is responsible for deploying Montisera´s strategy in developing and commercializing novel drug candidates and bioactive compounds with health benefits for the food and pharma sectors. As of November 2019 , Jukka is also CEO of Montisera’s daughter companies Montinutra Ltd. and Montipharma Ltd. 
- Heikki Vuorikoski - Founder & Business Development Director of Montisera, Heikki founded the company in 2012 through a successful spin-out from Pharmatest Services Ltd. Mr. Vuorikoski is a serial entrepreneur in bio business, and has founded/co-founded six Finnish CROs during the last 13 years. He has a background in genetics and bioinformatics, and is passionate in taking new ideas towards markets and full utilization. 
With a large network of business partnerships and contacts, significant progress in scientific benchwork, and deep technical backgrounds from their management, we believe that Montisera will progress very well in their early-stage developments. This small drug development company has achieved major results in a surprisingly short amount of time. They have been able to advance three new bioactive molecules to a stage where their efficacy in the treatment of alcoholism, Parkinson’s disease, lower urinary tract ailments and prostate cancer have all been demonstrated in animal testing. The company is currently seeking additional funding and will soon be moving to clinical trials in humans.
“I founded Montisera because, as a geneticist and biologist, I was really annoyed by the fact that promising bioactive compounds of the future are lying on the shelves of universities gathering dust. This means that the patient will not get a new, effective cancer medicine because nobody will take the projects forward”, says Heikki Vuorikoski, and he wonders where other similar companies are hiding in Finland. 
For a relatively small company, Montisera has a very significant patent portfolio. From the beginning, the strategy has always been for all IP to be owned by the parent company, Montisera, and for the company to provide its future partners with licences to use them. For instance, a patent for the company’s synthetic pharmaceutical compound enables licensing by application. Overall, Montisera’s early activities already sound like a recipe for success, with even bigger projects coming in the future.
How can I find more European biotech startups?
If you would like a simple solution for keeping an eye on drug sponsor companies, like Montisera, without relying on a database and generic lists of leads each week, we at Zymewire are here to help. Reach out today, and stay tuned for the next installment of the Sponsor Atlas: Discovering Biotech Startups. If you enjoy these articles, please feel free to give them a share through the social links below!