It was a match made in heaven, when Massimiliano Clamer, founder and CEO of Immagina BioTechnology, met his business angels Harald Oberrauch and Kurt Kofler in 2016, long before the foundation of the tba network. After four years of working together, Massimiliano trusted both investors enough to ask them to lead Immagina’s next investment round. With the addition of other angels from tba network as well as investors from Switzerland, Austria and Germany, this funding round closed recently.
We chatted with Massimiliano about his relationship with his investors and about Immagina’s future plans.
Please introduce yourself and Immagina BioTechnology.
My name is Massimiliano Clamer. I live and work in the region of Trento, Italy. I have a pharmaceutical background and a PhD in Biomolecular Science from the University of Trento and the University of Oxford. My passion for biotechnology eventually led me to my startup idea: to develop a new technology for gene expression analysis that enables scientists to obtain additional and improved information. And so, I founded Immagina in 2014 with the goal to change the existing market.
Can you tell us more about your innovation?
We have developed the only molecular tools able to capture all molecular printers that read a text (called RNA) and produce the functional building blocks (called proteins) of every living cell. Those printers are called ribosomes. We isolate and analyze active ribosomes and the associated RNA molecules; a great repository of biological knowledge.
A ribosome is a complex cellular machine used to translate the genetic code to functional proteins in cells. RNA is the abbreviation for ribonucleic acid. This is a macromolecule (a very large molecule), which contains the genetic information to make proteins.
How does that translate into a product?
Our platform currently includes several research kits for the purification and sequencing of biological samples. These products are absolutely unique on the market right now and can visualize which cells are healthy or sick at the level of protein synthesis. Thus, we seek to provide additional and enhanced information to scientists concerning therapeutic strategies for cancer and congenital disorders. Immagina represents a unique opportunity to profitably match the academic know-how and industrial needs.
What have been your success factors?
We are an experienced group of scientists and C-level professionals. Our core team of six benefits from an expert network of shareholders and advisors with knowhow in molecular biology, chemistry, nanotechnology, technology transfer, marketing, and business development. As such, we always get critical feedback and maintain an external point of view.
How do our business angels Harald and Kurt support you?
Harald and Kurt were among our first investors and they have been providing us with extensive support and mentoring since November 2016. Meanwhile, they are doing this via the tba network.
My recommendation to other founders: be careful when selecting an investor! Their experience, expertise, network and philosophy are important points to keep in mind. Harald and Kurt both met those criteria and we can always count on their feedback.
Both are generally present at meetings and contribute their expertise: due to many years of experience in the leadership of companies, Harald helps us in strategic decisions and management topics. Kurt is on the board of directors of Immagina and was able to connect us with key players from the biology field. Since he studied biology himself, he has a thorough understanding of our product and can also support us operationally.
Their input and ideas have been a great added value for us. The business angels of tba network are not only our investors but also part of our team with a very proactive approach.
How did the tba network help you in your recent funding round?
We have been preparing for the funding round since 2018. Harald and Kurt organized and managed the whole process and coordinated all communication with the various potential investors, while my team and I could continue to fully concentrate on the business. This was, of course, a great relief for us and further proof of how well we can work with our business angels. All in all, we were able to conclude an investment of almost one million euros. This sum comes from the tba network and other investors from Switzerland, Austria and Germany.
What are the next steps for Immagina?
We want to push the business activities of the company and increase our sales figures. Taking into account our clients’ feedback, we aim to further enhance our products, expand our commercial activities and increase our market position. Our new and very experienced Director of Sales, Lutz Kirchrath, is helping us to establish new partnerships and customer relationships in the market. These include pharmacies, diagnostic centers, sequencing companies as Oxford Nanopore Technologies and many more.
In order to acquire the industry’s big players as customers and to sell our products worldwide, it is important to establish a strong reputation quickly. Of course, we hope that the COVID-19 crisis won’t affect our market development too much and are determined to give our best.