KU Leuven spin-off AstriVax raises €30 million seed

KU Leuven spin-off AstriVax raised €30 million to build a vaccine platform

  • Closing at €30 million, AstriVax has raised the largest amount of seed capital in the history of a spin-off linked to Belgium-based university KU Leuven.
  • The funding round was led by V-Bio Ventures and Fund+. Other investors are Flanders Future TechFundThuja Capital, Ackermans and from the hair, Merriaux Equity Partners (via OMX Europe Venture Fund), BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity, and KU Leuven Gemma Frisius fund.

Leuven, Belgium, 25 August 2022 At €30 million, AstriVax has raised the largest amount of seed capital On the history of KU Leuven spin-offs. Company will draw in technology developed at the KU Leuven Rega Institute to develop Easier to produce new vaccines, has reduced cold chain requirements, and offer wide and Long-term protection against Various Viruses and others pathogenic

The funding round was led by V-Bio Ventures and Fund+. Other investors are Flanders Future TechFund, Thuja Capital, Ackermans & van Haren, Mérieux Equity Partners (via OMX Europe Venture Fund), BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity, and the KU Leuven Gemma Frisius Fund.

AstriVax will use the seed capital to bring their first thermostable yellow fever vaccine to the clinical development stage and to develop their pipeline vaccine candidates – one to prevent rabies and another to treat chronic hepatitis B.

The company will continue to build its highly innovative, first-in-class plug-and-play vaccine platform based on the foundational work of KU Leuven Rega Institute co-founders Professor Johan Nets and Kai Dallmeyer, PhD. AstriVax’s versatile technology can be used to develop a wide range of vaccines for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases. AstriVax aims to address major challenges in vaccine science, such as duration of safety and ease of production. Since vaccines no longer require a strict cold chain, it will be easier to get them from factories to patients, even in tropical and subtropical regions.

Hanne Callewaert, PhD, will lead the company as CEO. He has over 15 years of experience in the life sciences industry, including several leadership positions in companies such as GSK Vaccines and Auxurion. She said: “I am honored to be working with the world-renowned team of Professors Johan Netts and Kai Dallmeyer to spin off this vaccine platform technology that has such broad potential to address unmet medical needs. Being funded and supported by a strong consortium of investors will bring AstriVax’s technology to clinical trials.” will bring in validation. I see this as a strong affirmation of faith in the potential of technology, teams and collaboration.”

Professor Johan Nets (KU Leuven), co-founder, said: “After more than ten years of hard work and dedication, our academic team has developed and refined a novel, powerful, and versatile vaccine approach. Estrivax brings our revolutionary vaccine technology into clinical development. Kai Dallmeyer and I are excited. This will significantly increase the number of people who can be protected and treated from dreaded infectious diseases on all continents. We are also excited to work with CEO Hanne Callewaart, with the advice of an enthusiastic and experienced consortium of investors and sector executives.

Shelly Margetson, managing partner of V-Bio Ventures, said: “We have been impressed by the quality of scientific work carried out by Johan Nets and Kai Dallmeier over the past years at KU Leuven. Transforming academic excellence into valuable products for society by creating spin-out companies is the focus of V-Bio Ventures.

Carolyn Goderis, PhD, Principal at Fund+, added: “We greatly value the expertise of Estrivax’s founders and team, and are confident that the thermostable plug-and-play vaccine platform has great potential to prevent and treat a large array of diseases. It elicits a remarkable immune response. Fund + is honored to be a part of the AstriVax story and contribute to the lives of people and patients around the world.”

AstriVax will be headquartered at the BioHub in Haasrode (Leuven), Belgium.

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Media contacts

  • For more information about AstriVax: Hanne Callewaert (PhD), CEO, [email protected] Hanne Callewaert is fluent in Dutch and English; She also speaks French.
  • More information about AstriVax is available at www.astrivax.com

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KU Leuven

As the number one European university for innovation, KU Leuven actively invests in launching innovative technologies on the commercial market by creating spin-off companies, securing and licensing intellectual property, and collaborating with industrial partners. KU Leuven helps researchers and students transform their innovative ideas and technologies into commercial products and services that impact the lives of people around the world. Likewise, KU Leuven encourages young entrepreneurs to develop a solid business plan, validate the market and build a coherent team. Since its creation in 1972, KU Leuven Research and Development has supported the creation and development of 149 spin-off companies, directly employing more than 7,000 people. KU Leuven’s spin-off companies generate huge economic benefits for the Leuven region. From 2005 to 2021, KU Leuven invested €21.7 million in its spin-off companies, and raised €1.46 billion in external capital. KU Leuven’s 122 spin-off companies, the first of which was founded in 1979, are still active today. Many have leading international status. Seven spin-off companies have done initial public offering (IPO) on the stock exchange.

For more information please visit http://lrd.kuleuven.be/en/spinoff.

V-Bio Ventures

V-Bio Ventures is an independent venture capital firm specializing in building and financing young, innovative life science companies. V-Bio Ventures was founded in 2015 and works closely with Belgium-based VIB, one of the world’s leading life science institutes. The fund invests across Europe in start-ups and early-stage companies with high growth potential that focus on technologies that deliver transformative improvements in the biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, diagnostics and agricultural sectors. V-Bio Ventures’ cornerstone investor is the European Investment Fund (EIF). The EIF’s contribution is supported by InnovFin Equity, the European Union’s financial support under the Horizon 2020 financial instrument and the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) established under the Investment Plan for Europe.


fund +

Fund + is a Belgian venture capital firm that invests in innovative European life sciences companies developing medicines, medical devices and diagnostics, with a patient-centric approach and a strong focus on major unmet medical needs. With over €200M in assets under management, Fund+ has built a strong track record since 2015, investing in 18 portfolio companies with two major exits. The fund is managed by an expert team of experienced life sciences professionals with experience in the healthcare industry, corporate finance and strategy consulting, supporting companies throughout their growth cycle. The company aims to maintain a leading position in the life sciences sector, creating sustainable value for its shareholders and a tangible impact on society.


Flanders Future Techfund

The Flanders Future Techfund is an early-stage financing fund that aims to meet the financial needs of early technology initiatives of research centers, universities and Flemish spearhead clusters, as well as private parties. Through its investment, Flanders Future Techfund wants to focus on the evaluation of technology developed by Flemish companies, with particular attention to the key domains of care and well-being, digital transformation and climate and sustainability. The Flanders Future Techfund has a funding size of €75 million and can provide financing from 0.5 to 5 million euros. Flemish investment company PMV Flanders Future Techfund was appointed for operational management.

Thuja Capital Management

Thuja Capital Management (Thuja) manages several venture capital funds aimed at building and scaling companies in the fields of (bio)pharmaceuticals, medtech, and digital health. In addition to generating financial returns for its investors, Thuja’s investments positively impact the health and well-being of patients. Thuja serves clinicians and patients globally by providing capital to adventurous entrepreneurs with ground-breaking product concepts locally.


Ackermans and van Haren NV

Ackermans & van Haaren (AvH), with offices in Antwerp and Singapore, positions itself as the long-term partner of choice for family businesses and management teams to build high-performing market leaders and contribute to a more sustainable world. AVH is a diversified group operating in 4 core sectors: marine engineering and contracting, private banking, real estate and energy and resources. AVH also provides growth capital to sustainable businesses, including the healthcare and life sciences industries. At an economic level, the AvH Group represented a turnover of €6.0 billion in 2021 and employed 22,653 people through its partnership in participation. AvH is listed on Euronext Brussels and is included in the BEL20 index and the European DJ Stoxx 600 index.


Merriaux Equity Partners

Mérieux Equity Partners (‘MxEP’) is an AMF-accredited management company dedicated to equities
Investing in health and nutrition. MxEP actively supports entrepreneurs and companies
With differentiated products and services, giving them access to its sector expertise and privilege
International network. MxEP currently manages more than €1 billion in assets and recently closed its latest
Venture capital fund, OMX Europe Venture Fund, with co-sponsorship from Koreas.

BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity

BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity, the venture capital arm of BNP Paribas Fortis, has been active in the Belgian private equity market for over 40 years. BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity takes a minority stake and provides mezzanine financing to high-performing mid-sized Belgian companies. In addition, BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity is active as an investor in specialized venture capital and private equity funds located on the Belgian market. BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity’s direct participation includes Studio 100, reMynd, eTheRNA, Quality Aid and Konings.

Gemma Frisius fund

The Gemma Frisius Fund (GFF) is a seed capital fund established in 1997 as a joint venture between KU Leuven, KBC Private Equity, and BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity. It combines the university’s research and technology transfer expertise with the financial and investment expertise of two financial partners. GFF provides seed capital in the early development stages of innovative, research-based spin-off companies arising from all technology domains and supports their growth process.


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