SyNoesis Therapeutics is a biotech startup with the vision to cure Parkinson’s disease (PD) and other major brain diseases with a new therapeutic. After winning the 1st Prize in the EIT Health Catapult – Biotech category in 2018, the startup applied for SMP and was selected for Ferrer’s challenge on Parkinson’s disease and freezing episodes. Athanasios Spathis, CEO of SyNoesis Therapeutics is now sharing his experience.

1. What is the story behind SyNoesis Therapeutics?

SyNoesis Therapeutics is a startup with the mission to develop novel treatments for brain diseases. Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease are the 2 most common and incurable brain diseases for people over 65. Due to the increase of the aging population, the number of patients suffering from these diseases is expected to double by 2040. The company applies new approaches and identifies novel modes of action to translate them to innovative solutions that cover the unmet needs of these major brain diseases.

2. Tell us more about your EIT Health experience. You have made a name for SyNoesis Therapeutics in the EIT Health community. 

Synoesis was awarded with the 1st prize of the competition EIT Health Catapult for 2018. This had 2 major outcomes. 1) It provided a strong validation for the company and for the viability of the project as the reviewers were business experts with a strong record in the market and 2) it significantly increased the visibility of the company to investors and the community. The latter was even more increased by the participation of SyNoesis to other EIT Health events that also facilitated significant and targeted networking.

The participation of SyNoesis in the EIT Health community and activities has been a great experience and opportunity to facilitate and/or add value in the project because: EIT Health programs have high quality program content, they allow a European Outreach, they enable the collaboration with other EIT Health partners, they include high-level mentoring by experts, while they promote networking with investors as well as the industry.

3. What attracted you the most from the SMP programme?

I considered SMP to be a great program since I first saw it because it was very focused and tailored according to the priorities pre-announced by the pharma companies that participated in the program. In fact, experts from the pharma companies were also involved in the selection of the companies that made this even more a particularly targeted activity. Of course, big pharmas are the strategic partners for every start-up trying to do drug development. In this direction, I considered SMP an excellent opportunity to receive targeted training regarding the development strategy and the business plan, so as to communicate the project to pharmaceutical companies in the pre-scheduled meetings and potentially negotiate co-development or licensing deals.

4. What was the major outcome for SyNoesis Therapeutics from SMP?

Besides the wonderful experience, the network and the industry-based guidance, the measurable outcome for SYNOESIS has been:

1) NDA with a pharma and SYNOESIS, signed by both parts.

2) Discussions with a 2nd pharma  for engagement in the project, still ongoing.

3) Open Incubation perspective at a pharma incubator.

 5. What is next for SyNoesis Therapeutics?

The future of a startup focusing on drug development requires its evolvement outside its national borders. The process is high-risk and multi-million. The mentality of relevant investors and stakeholders has changed over the last few-years and the modern approach is the formation of syndicates to join forces and share the risk. As such, a startup like SyNoesis needs to try to develop as much as possible in or involving countries with favorable eco-systems in which development opportunities are often and collaborations with important stakeholders are facilitated.

In this direction, SyNoesis will open in the next month a subsidiary in Basel Switzerland to capitalize on a very important network of specialists on drug development, while we are also considering Belgium and UK for funding through specific channels and Spain for Clinical trials. Finally, besides Switzerland, we are in discussions with big VCs from Germany and France.

My vision is to have 3-4 pillars of pre-clinical and clinical development in Europe and the Seed Round that is needed closed in 2020 to speed-up the project and enter the clinic and conduct the First-In Human trials by 2021.