Making a living on super fatty acids
With 1 million kroner in start-up money from The Norwegian Research Council’s student initiative in the bag he is now able to get his new company on its feet.
A lack of control on body inflammations can lead to several different diseases; common diseases like asthma, Parkinson, Alzheimer and heart and vascular diseases.
In the future, so called oxygenated fatty acids can develop into an important remedy against these hazardous diseases.
– Extremely potent
– These fatty acids are so powerful that they contribute considerably in preventing inflammations in getting out of control, says Hasselstrøm.
Today however, these types of fatty acids don’t reach the production line. The reason is basically that very few have the expertise and the experience necessary.
The Research Group LIPCHEM at the School of Pharmacy at UiO has developed unique knowledge on the subject after working within this field of study for a number of years.
oxygenated fatty acids
oxygenated polyunsaturated fatty acids are created by omega-3 fatty acids in the body, like eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid when you have an inflammatory condition, for example when injured or experiencing an bacterial infection.
Fatty acids like these are extremely potent and can contribute in stopping an inflammatory condition.
With the new start-up company OXYPUFA, founder Daniel Haga Hasselstrøm aims to produce and sell these kinds of fatty acids to the pharmaceutical industry, who on their part can develop medicines that are effective based on these acids.
– The pharmaceutical industry doesn’t have to create the fatty acids and develop expensive expertise themselves. They save time, says Haga Hasselstrøm who completed his Master’s degree at the School of Pharmacy this spring semester.
And the demand is huge. The past few years Professor Trond Vidar Hansen at the School of Pharmacy has received plenty of interest from companies wishing to purchase the oxygenated fatty acids that his research group LIPCHEM have developed.
– Many of the oxidized fatty acids we have developed are worth their weight in gold. They are finished products already ready for sale.
– This provides the new company with a lucrative business opportunity and a clear advantage in the marketplace, Hansen adds.
Furthermore, the research group collaborates with the renowned professor Charles N. Serhan at Harvard Medical School concerning the chemistry, biochemistry and biology of oxidized fatty acids.
– This represents a paradigm shift within biomedicine and life sciences, Hansen proclaims.
Delivering the commodity
Hasselstrøm emphasizes that it is not OXYPUFA that is going to develop the medicine itself.
– We deliver the foundation or raw material to the pharmaceutical industry. It could take as much as 10-12 years before a finished medical product is marketed, he points out.
At the start the founder himself will own 52 percent of OXYPUFA. Additionally, Hansen and three other scientists Marius Aursnes, Jens Eivind Tungen and Anders Vik will be offered to own the rest of the company.
Hansen also strongly believes in Haga Hasselstøm as a businessman.
– He represents the new generation that combine expertise, involvement, ideas and a spirit of entrepreneurship. That Daniel has seen the huge commercial potential that this new paradigm represents, is a proof of his good thinking and creativity, he says.
Received a million in Funds
This spring the Government and the Norwegian Research Council arranged a business start-up competition through the initiative “FORNY StudENT”. 15 million kroner was set aside to sponsor the best student ideas and put them in motion.
Haga Hasselstrøm was one of the lucky students that could celebrate being chosen. He knows very well what he wants to do with the money.
«Forny student» initiative
The Norwegian Research Council hands out one million each to 15 different student start-up companies.
The new initiative “FORNY StudENT” aims to make the path into entrepreneurship easier than today for students.
53 master program students applied for money and 15 was singled out for grants.
– The money will go to establishing the business and follow up on the first customer requests. In addition, the funds will finance the actual manufacturing of the fatty acids: Purchasing chemicals, lab equipment, salaries and use of analytic equipment, he says.
He believes OXYPUFA will survive on these funds during the start-up period, but he can’t rule out the need for outside investors in the future. The company will also collaborate with the University of Oslo through their commercial initiative Inven2.
(Translated from Norwegian into English by Espen Haakstad)