University of Helsinki spinout company Nanoform to go public

In the early 2000s, a technology that enables the production of small drug particles was developed at the Electronics Research Laboratory of the University of Helsinki. Less than five years ago, a nanotechnology company called Nanoform Finland was founded on the basis of this technology. Now, the company is contemplating going public.

Basic research conducted at the Electronics Research Laboratory has generated large-scale business activities. This was made possible by an exceptional idea, passionate scientists and support by the University of Helsinki in the commercialisation of the innovation.

− Getting listed on the stock exchange is a sign of solid trust in the technology offered by the company and its growth potential on the global pharmaceutical market. It’s also a sign of the capacity of research conducted at the University of Helsinki to produce groundbreaking innovations that benefit the world as a whole, says, CEO Jari Strandman of Helsinki Innovation Services.

Increased efficacy by shrinking

Nanoform’s scalable and patented CESS® technology produces small drug particles, which, in turn, improves the success rate and efficacy of drugs.

− In simple terms, the technology produces small groups of molecules, or particles, without interfering with their chemical properties, says Professor Edward Haeggström, founder of Nanoform.

By utilising supercritical carbon dioxide, the drug particles are recrystallised to the scale of 10–200 nanometres. Thanks to a process known as nanonisation, the surface area of the particles increases in relation to volume, improving and accelerating their dissolution.

Nanonisation makes it possible to considerably increase the number of drugs that make it to clinical trials and receive marketing authorisation.

In fact, a great number of drug candidates are abandoned when their effect is found to be insufficient. Only one-fifth of the annually launched 200–300 drug development projects proceed to the clinical trial stage and result in pharmaceutical products available in pharmacies. Roughly 15–20% of the unsuccessful projects fail because the drug does not dissolve effectively enough to have the desired effect in the body.

− We are giving these failed drugs a new chance, says Hæggström.

Innovation funding for basic research bears fruit

Nanoform’s progress has been dizzying. In April it was awarded a drug manufacturing certificate by the Finnish Medicines Agency (FIMEA).

− We have gained new customers even in the most intense periods of the coronavirus crisis, Hæggström notes.

The technology was developed at the University of Helsinki’s Electronics Research Laboratory, headed by Professor Hæggström, in cooperation with Professor Jouko Yliruusi, a specialist in pharmaceutical technology. The commercialisation of innovations gained through academic research makes them benefit society as a whole.

− This is a prime example of how basic research can engender broad-based business activities in only a few years when you have a good idea and skilled contributors, says Professor Kai Nordlund, dean of the Faculty of Science.

The University of Helsinki supports the commercialisation of innovations made by its researchers – and students – by a range of means, with the aim of solving global problems and making the fruits of research broadly available to society.

− The University afforded me the freedom to investigate without restrictions, in addition to which I received encouragement and support in my attempts to commercialise the idea, Professor Hæggström says, recalling the early stages of his innovation.

Nanoform was established in accordance with the commercialisation rules and processes employed at the University of Helsinki. In commercialising their innovations, researchers are assisted by Helsinki Innovation Services (HIS), a company owned by the University.

More details

Edward Haeggström, professor, founder of Nanoform
phone 050 3175 493

Kai Nordlund, dean
phone 02 9415 0007

Jari Strandman, CEO
Helsinki innovation Services (HIS)
phone 040 7006 968

Related research news item on the University of Helsinki website: Nanoform shrinks drug particle

Release on the Nanoform website: Nanoform announces intention to float in Finland and Sweden