The Baltic nation of Estonia promotes itself as a nation that punches above its weight in several areas – and one of those is in the life sciences arena. In this article, we explore a dozen interesting biotech companies in the country.
With a population of just 1.3 million – similar to Dallas, Texas – Estonia, which celebrates its national day today (February 24), is a member of the European Union, so is able to count on some support from EU financial institutions.
There are solid connections between industry and academia, with Tehnopol the largest science park in the country. Located in the nation’s capital, Tallinn, Tehnopol consists of more than 200 companies, the Tallinn University of Technology, and the IT College.
Tallinn, and the eastern city of Tartu, dominate the life sciences and biotech sector in Estonia. Tartu also hosts an impressive science park, as well as the University of Tartu and the Estonian University of Life Sciences.
Here, in no particular order, are 12 biotech companies in Estonia you should be aware of.
Bacterial wound infections affect more than 100 million people worldwide, leading to millions of amputations every year.
Nanordica Medical has invented and patented nanotechnology that the Estonian biotech company says provides eight times more effective treatment of infected wounds compared to the standard of care. The company’s nanotechnology can be used to manufacture a range of antibacterial products like wound dressings, sprays, creams, catheters, or surface coatings.
Based in Estonia, Antegenes is a biotech company that has developed genetic tests to estimate the risk of common cancers. Its polygenic risk score sums up information over hundreds to thousands of genetic variants in the human genome. By combining the polygenic risk score with a person’s background (origin, age, and gender), the company says it can calculate a person’s risk of developing cancer and provide medical advice on prevention and early detection.
Currently, the company has developed tests for breast cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer and melanoma.
Gearbox Biosciences has developed a switch that allows for the control of bacterial growth. Its Switcher Technology is based on induced removal of the origin of replication from bacterial chromosomes.
Switched cells do not divide but remain metabolically active, which enables the company to decouple protein production from cellular growth. The protein expression in switched cells continues after cessation of growth, leading to protein levels up to five times higher compared to non switching cells.
TFTAK is the Center of Food and Fermentation Technologies, a privately-owned contract research organization. Its focus areas are divided between bioprocess optimization, food research analytics, and metagenomics.
Bioprocess optimization includes in vitro and in vivo studies of human gut microbiota and next generation probiotics (NGPs), as well as bioinformatics, using high throughput metagenomic sequencing of microbial communities.
Icosagen is privately owned, independent and employs 170 CRDMO staff. It also has offices in San Francisco and Berlin. Icosagen is a research-driven, mammalian protein drug specialist. Icosagen Cell Factory CRDMO is a contract research, development, and manufacturing organization service arm for biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies globally, combining CRO and CDMO capabilities for recombinant antibodies and proteins.
With its proprietary IcoCell stable CHO cell line development platform and the new GMP facility, its range has expanded to large-scale protein manufacturing for clinical trials.
Icosagen recently arranged an €18 million financing agreement with the European Investment Bank (EIB) backed by the InvestEU program to strengthen the company’s drug discovery, development and production services.
HansaBioMed Life Sciences Ltd is a company entirely dedicated to research and development of products in the field of exosome sciences.
Its focus is on research in the field of exosomes, extracellular vesicles (EVs) and nanoparticles. The company’s service portfolio includes scalable and automated purification of extracellular vesicles from conditioned media, biofluids or plant extracts, bulk or single EV characterization, biomarker assessment by mass spectrometry and RNA sequencing.
The company offers contract GMP manufacturing, cell culturing services, and cryostorage. Its research is focused on molecular mechanisms of stem cell proliferation and differentiation.
The main emphasis is on development of techniques to manipulate homing, differentiation and integration of cells following transplantation.
Cellin uses different disease models to optimize the therapeutic effects of stem cells.
Bioatlas provides molecular biology products to researchers, distributors and OEM resellers.
Last year, the biotech company was enlisted by Enterprise Estonia to work on a project to determine new ways of detecting harmful human pathogens. Bioatlas also has a portfolio of reagents available for diagnostics and research on SARS-CoV-2.
Asper Biogene is a genetic testing company focused on the diagnostics of hereditary diseases. Its testing capacity extends from single gene analysis to whole genome sequencing.
The company said its ultimate ambition is that “no disease goes undiagnosed.”
Clients include university hospitals, private clinics, commercial laboratories and research organizations in more than 40 countries.
ZipPrime supplies a solution to capture, detect and preserve circulating free DNA (cfDNA) molecules at a single molecule level. Its solution improves the accuracy and reproducibility of cfDNA-based assays by capturing and tagging a single copy of a cfDNA molecule.
Liquid biopsy is a non-invasive technique that enables detection and monitoring of cancer biomarkers in blood, urine and other body fluids at an early stage, even before symptoms appear. One of the most valuable biomarkers used in LB is cfDNA molecules, the extracellular DNA floating freely in the blood circulation.
Tervisetehnoloogiate Arenduskeskus is a biotech company based in Estonia focused on research and product development in personal medicine, drug development and both human and veterinary reproductive medicine.
Also known as the CCHT (Competence Centre on Health Technologies), much of the company’s work centers on fertility and reproductive health.
Solis BioDyne has been developing and producing life science reagents since 1995.
The company’s DNA polymerases, PCR Master Mixes, qPCR Mixes and reverse transcription reagents are used by customers across the globe, including top research institutes and biotech companies.
It produces endpoint PCR reagents, a variety of reverse transcriptase for first-strand cDNA synthesis, and reagents required in PCR and post-PCR analysis.
Solis BioDyne has partners in both the private and state sectors, with cooperation projects ranging from OEM production to scientific research.