Celvivo: Building a strong company requires protecting your ideas right from the start

The biotech company Celvivo has created a bioreactor that grows cells in a completely new way. Continuously developing the equipment to ever-closer mimic living tissue fits the needs of the market. This is vital for the company – and so is protecting its intellectual property.

Cells are traditionally grown in a petri dish. This forces them to execute a ‘repair program’ and grow rapidly as flat layers. But by growing the cells in suspension, they form clusters which mimic tissues in the human body. Necessity drove the founders of Celvivo to make their invention based on the need to grow cells so that they would recover their otherwise inactive physiological functionality.

The founders started working on the concept many years ago and started to commercialise their own prototype in 2014 as a garage project. But Celvivo started to blossom when the founders met their  future CEO, Peter Willems-Alnøe, in 2018. He brought skilled investors and an expert team onboard who together could refine the invention into an incredibly professional instrument.

Today, the company has several patent applications, revolving around the two products, the disposable Clinoreactor™, in which cells are grown, and the Clinostar™ instrument that provides the optimal growth environment and turns the Clinoreactors.

– The traditional way of growing cells has been adequate for many years (since it was developed in the 1950’s to fight the repeated polio epidemics and produce the world’s first polio vaccine). For fighting cancer, finding new drugs, developing personalized and precision medicine , we need cells to mimic those in the human body. This is what happens when cells are grown in a device like ours. We hope that many labs all over the world will realise this, and then the patent becomes very valuable, says Stephen J. Fey, Chief Research Officer and Co-founder of Celvivo.

Celvivo´s development strategy is to continuously add new features, such as software and perfusion technologies, to make the device more automated (and therefore more attractive for large biotech and pharma companies). This underlines the importance of patenting innovative features.

This is a difficult market to enter, so it makes perfect sense for Celvivo to exclude competitors from copying its innovative features. The market is also characterized by companies using the same vendors for many years, so for them to change vendor, you need to offer something with significant improvements, which is what Celvivo is focused on. 

David Hendriksen, Managing Partner
Guardian IP Consulting.

Not just a customer, but a genuine partnership

As Celvivo´s work is at the intersection of medicine, biotechnology, mechanical and electrical devices, the company has benefitted from the broad team of advisors at Guardian IP Consulting. The Celvivo team has also been impressed with the learning curve of their primary advisor.

– David does not have a biotech background, but he quickly understood both the concept of our inventions and what is important for our business. We were able to add a lot of features, some which are core and others that are supplementary, says Søren Alnøe, Chief Operating Officer at Celvivo, and continues:

– When we call with questions, David takes the time to explain the in-depth patent aspects in layman’s terms, so that we understand it. This provides comfort for us, to know that we are in good hands. Also, the administrative work that David´s colleagues do, such as keeping an eye on deadlines, makes us feel like they are part of our team, and that we are not just a customer.

For a company like Celvivo, which has investors from a high-tech-driven company, patenting the company´s technology is crucial in order to build a strong company. It all starts by having ideas protected.

Read more: Do you need a patent strategy?

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