Coinciding with today’s International Women’s Day: VHIO’s Laura Soucek awarded as the only female in Catalonia to receive a “la Caixa” EntrepreneurXXI 2018

Established and promoted by CaixaBank through Caixa Capital Risc – the venture capital arm of CriteriaCaixa, the highly coveted annual EntrepreneurXXI Awards are co-granted by the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness through ENISA – Empresa Nacional de Innovación S.A. Launched back in 2007, they support the development of innovative startup companies throughout Spain and Portugal that show the greatest growth potential across the life sciences, information technologies, digital businesses, industrial technologies and agricultural-food production sectors.

Officially announced yesterday, Laura Soucek, Principal Investigator of VHIO’s Mouse Models of Cancer Therapies Group, ICREA Professor and the only woman among all finalists from all sectors throughout Catalonia, has just picked up one of the two EntrepreneurXXI prizes for the region this year. More specifically, Peptomyc S.L., a biopharmaceutical spin-off co-founded by Laura in December 2014, who is also Chief Executive Officer of the company, has again been recognized for marking important milestones within the oncology field.

This most recent accolade, thanks to the CaixaBank and partners supporting the EntrepreneurXXI Awards (EXXIs), will contribute to Peptomyc’s success story to-date in developing anti-Myc peptides for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) and glioblastoma (GBM) – all of which have a dismal prognosis and are in desperate need of new therapies.

Laura and her Peptomyc researchers, also spearhead by co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Marie-Eve Beaulieu, are focused on successfully translating Omomyc-based therapy into clinical application and ultimately, direct benefit for numerous cancer patients. In so doing, the Omomyc cell-penetrating peptide (CPP) would become the first ever clinically viable and direct inhibitor of Myc – a protein implicated in the formation of most tumor types. This anti-Myc peptide would also offer a less invasive form of therapy since Laura’s group has already proven preclinically that it can be successfully administered intranasally to deliver its powerful anti-cancer blows. Importantly, it’s not only their Myc-centered translational science that is pushing boundaries.

It is thanks to the backing and belief received from its partners, venture capital firms Alta Life Sciences and HealthEquity, and ICREA, as well as the precious support received through Awards such as the EXXIs, that Peptomyc’s team is steadily growing from strength to strength, now incorporating three additional members: Sílvia Casacuberta Serra, Laia Foradada Felip, and Toni Jauset, a final-year PhD student who formerly worked with Laura as a member of her VHIO Group.

Consisting of 5.000 EUR and access to Cambridge University’s Ignite Fast Track training program for aspiring entrepreneurs and corporate innovators, the Award will surely spur Peptomyc to continue to deliver on its ambition of clinically inhibiting Myc. Commenting for VHIO Communications Laura observed, “I am absolutely thrilled and honored to have received one of the two EntrepreneurXXIs awarded last night – especially upon the eve of today’s International Women’s Day. Not only does this global initiative themed Press for Progress represent an important call to accelerate gender parity, thankfully a reality at VHIO, it also encompasses the slogan ‘We will celebrate women’s achievements’. While we must all continue to salute the amazing contributions that women make across all sectors of society, as scientists, and in the era of team science, we must also applaud the extraordinary efforts of our respective team members, colleagues and peers. Male and female. I am truly grateful and privileged to work and collaborate with so many gifted research talents.”

Josep Tabernero, VHIO’s Director added, “As an outstanding and pioneering researcher, Laura is thoroughly deserving of this Award. As importantly, she is both a gifted and devoted mentor who inspires and encourages our younger colleagues to pursue their careers with her same passion, dedication and drive. As Director of VHIO, I take this opportunity on International Women’s Day to thank the tremendous devotion of all our other female Principal Investigators who are also renowned leaders in oncology. Reflecting on gender equality, I am proud to report that VHIO provides a bias-free environment that stimulates our faculty to achieve their research ambitions, develop their careers and seize on the same, equal opportunities – irrespective of gender”.

In Catalonia, the EXXIs are organized in collaboration with ACCIÓ – Agència per la Competitivitat de l’Empresa of the Generalitat de Cataluña, Barcelona Activa and Barcelona Tech City. Established in 2007, these Awards coupled with accompanying programs, have translated in an investment totaling at 4,3 million EUR. This year’s edition has granted 490.000 EUR in funding, ranking the EntrepreneurXXI Awards as one of the most important and relevant calls for entrepreneurs in Spain and Portugal.

Last but by no means least, we would also like to congratulate Bound 4 Blue as the other very worthy recipient of this year’s Award. Dedicated to producing low cost hydrogen with no environmental impact, the company promotes “going blue” by developing the most innovative and effective solutions for fuel savings & emissions reduction of maritime transport as well as clean hydrogen production.

To view the CaixaBank’s offical announcement in Spanish please click here.

RELATED VHIO NEWS today: VHIO on International Women’s Day: reporting its gender parity reality.