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Following Recent Layoffs and Refocus, Europroteome Receives Fresh VC Funding

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Europroteome of Henningsdorf, Germany, said this week that it received new funding from an extended Series A round of financing. This boost follows a round of restructuring and layoffs last month that left the company with a 25 percent reduced headcount, or about 35 full-time employees.

What made reductions necessary was a change in the interests of potential partners, according to Walter von Horstig, Europroteome’s CFO. The company’s original business model was to sell targets to pharmaceutical companies, but “over the last two years, that has changed, everybody is talking about validated targets [now],” he said. Cuts occurred “across the board,” not focusing on specific technologies.

“In the sense of a meaningful business plan…this was a prerequisite for further investment,” said Jörg Ruppert of Heidelberg Innovation, one of Europroteome’s investors, in an e-mail message. The new financing — the amount of which remains undisclosed because the round is still open to further investors — “gives us another 18 months,” von Horstig said. Half of the money comes from Earlybird Venture Capital, which was joined by Heidelberg Innovation and Nextech Ventures. All three participated in Europroteome’s second €9.5 million ($10.9 million) financing round two years ago.

Going forward, Europroteome will focus on two areas: One is cancer membrane targets, “the only place in the targets market where there is some kind of demand,” said von Horstig. The other will be multiplexed cancer biomarkers, where the company has finished a number of collaborative projects. It has already identified biomarker patterns for gastric and colon cancer, and is about to embark on a breast cancer study (see PM 6/20/03). This experience, combined with Europroteome’s access to human clinical samples as well as cancer experts, was one of the main reasons for her company to continue investing in Europroteome, said Marion Dörner of Earlybird in an e-mail message.

— JK

 

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