Five new exciting startups are brewing in Ireland. With breakthrough ideas ranging from pharmaceuticals to biosensors and the circular economy, here’s the first peek into RebelBio’s class of 2017.

Since 2014, Cork’s accelerator program has evolved from SYNBIOAXLR8R to IndieBio EU to its latest incarnation, RebelBio. Naming aside, it was the first ever initiative of this kind for Life Sciences in the world and it remains backed by SOSV, the accelerator-based VC managing €300M.

Last year, we followed IndieBio EU from the call for new bioinnovators to the selection of new synbio startups and all the way through to their Demo Day. Now, 15 new biotechs are in the making. April was the “pre-accelerator” month to polish business plans and strategies, and RebelBio is now offering a first sneak peek to some of the companies progressing to the labs of University College Cork to refine prototypes and launch products.


First up is Galactica Biotech, which comes to program armed with proprietary machine learning algorithm to seek out existing, already approved drugs that have to potential to treat a major cancer target. Repurposing drugs like atovaquone is an idea that has been floating in the pharma for a while now. The team, which hails from Spain, Mexico and the UK, hopes to produce other success stories capable of rivaling Viagra’s path.

rebelbio galactica drug repurposing

Galactica’s team

On-the-spot, accessible diagnostics always get a fair bit of attention, due to their potential to democratize biotech and put science into people’s pockets. In a program targeting biotinkerers, it’s no wonder the field is represented here with 3 companies.

From Chile, KaitekLabs is developing a kit for the rapid detection of shellfish toxin, engineering biosensors to turn bacteria into living computers. This would leave behind the current method, an expensive and slow process in the lab, and it could reach some of the people that need the diagnostic the most, such as poorer children who regularly collect shellfish to eat. KaitekLabs’ team hopes to sell their first kit while at the program.

kaiteklabs shellfish toxin diagnostic

Founded by two bio-makers from California, US, SexPositive is a smart diagnostic device for sexually transmittable diseases. With it, people can test themselves from the privacy of their own homes.

Meanwhile, OaCP (for Oncology and Cytogenetic Products) is a university spin-out from Italy. It develops reagents that can speed up genome sequencing. For example, it can reduce a test for cancer diagnosis from 3 days to 2 hours.

Another popular theme within biotech is its potential to bring about a circular economy, which is often discussed with products like bioplastics. In that area, there’s NuLeaf Tech, which develops microbial fuel cells towards a biologically-inspired module to purify water, treat sewage and generate clean energy. The project began as a NASA internship and then carried on as DIY biology in California. The team believes the technology is competitive in the industry, and is currently testing its first prototype in collaboration with local farmers.

nuleaf microbial fuel cell water purification


So these are the five promising “students” of RebelBio! The selected startups seem to reflect the bigger focus of the rebranded program on the intersection of biology and technology, such as promising biohacking projects, and they are also quite fleshed out already. Maybe soon they will be able to join Ireland’s fast-growing biotech ecosystem.


Images from DNetromphotos/Shutterstock and RebelBio.

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