EIT Health Alumni Rising Stars is a new initiative of the EIT Health Alumni Network, which features a group of Rising Stars from across the community; entrepreneurs and innovators who we believe should be recognised for what they have already achieved in the world of healthcare and entrepreneurship, and who can inspire other members of our community to follow a similar path. The Alumni network conducts interviews with these members aimed at discovering the successes they have seen in their entrepreneurial journey thus far, diving into the challenges they have overcome, and exploring what motivates them to forge their own paths. This time it’s Dominik Schumacher, Founder of Tubulis and we are happy to share his interview.
Tell us about yourself and your journey with EIT Health. Was there a stepping stone, an encounter or a learning provided by EIT Health that was decisive for your success?
When we started developing the technologies that are the core of Tubulis today, we were fortunate and able to achieve the technological proof-of-concept relatively quickly. However, when we used the data to apply for various non-dilutive funding opportunities in Germany – we failed at all of them! Although the data itself was very promising and convincing to the members of the juries, we were still lacking the validation of our novel technology within the pharmaceutical industry. Working together with the EIT Health Launch Lab enabled us to fine-tune our positioning by talking to more than 130 relevant stakeholders that are a part of the EIT Health network, enabling us to secure a total of 3.6 million non-dilutive funding. Today we think of the EIT Health Launch Lab as a major starting point and a catalyst for Tubulis’ journey.
Tell us about your company. What will be the company’s impact on the health sector, what medical advancement does it bring about?
Tubulis generates uniquely matched antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) by combining proprietary novel technologies with disease-specific biology. In more general terms, this means that we use the targeting mechanism of an antibody, that is specific to a certain disease, to deliver an active drug to a specific tissue. This concept itself has been around for a longer time but was still facing problems such as the stability of the conjugate and resulting off-site toxicities. At Tubulis we have created technology platforms that successfully overcome these issues. Our goal is to expand the therapeutic potential of ADCs ushering in a new era and delivering better outcomes for patients.
So far ADCs have mainly been developed to treat cancer patients, however, we believe our proprietary ADC development approach also offers the potential to expand the ADC concept into indications beyond cancer.
How will Tubulis change lives in Europe and the European health sector?
The development of novel therapies for the treatment of cancer is one of the main challenges of modern medicine. Cancer is devastating disease and although we have made great progress over the last couple of years there is still a long way to go, to be able to improve outcomes for the majority of cancer patients. Our goal is to contribute to this important endeavor in providing new avenues through our novel ADC approach and establish ourselves as a leader in this field driving innovation form the heart of Europe. With our strong team, our proprietary technology platforms, and innovative therapeutic concept, we are committed to ushering in a new era in the ongoing fight against cancer helping patients, not just in Europe but also worldwide.
What motivated you to become an entrepreneur?
Already as a teenager, I dreamed about starting a business with the purpose of developing groundbreaking technologies that have the potential to provide better outcomes for patients.
When I interviewed for a position in Christian Hackenberger’s laboratory at the Leibniz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology in Berlin in 2012, I immediately knew that this was a great opportunity to develop innovative technologies and to improve current targeted therapies and thus get one step closer to achieving my goal. During this time, I also met Jonas Helma-Smets – the CSO of Tubulis. He immediately became an indispensable sparring partner who also shared the vision of translating a groundbreaking technology into tangible therapies for patients.
What was the most rewarding/outstanding moment for you and your company so far?
My personal most rewarding moment was when we received very positive data from a substantive study. These results made all of us realize: Our technology truly has the potential to significantly change how we currently treat diseases and thereby improve patients’ lives.
What is the most important advice you would give other entrepreneurs following in your footsteps?
Even the very best idea or technology will only be successful if it is backed by a strong and unique team. This does not only mean working with the very best people, but it is of great importance that the whole team shares the same vision and completely trusts one another. Other than that: If you have a good idea that you believe in, go for it and don’t let any setbacks hold you back.
Your call for action: Are you looking for a new hire? Advice in a certain area? A co-working space? This is your chance to reach out to our vast community.
We are always looking for new hires that share our vision of transforming the ADC space and want to become part of a multidisciplinary and highly motivated team. Don’t hesitate to contact us at https://tubulis.com/career/.