Dutch-based Scope Biosciences, a startup developing CRISPR-Cas based molecular diagnostics, announced that it has secured €500K in funding led by SHIFT Invest’s Thematic Technology Transfer fund and OostNL.
The funding will help the Wageningen-based company’s pioneering efforts to develop, launch, and commercialise agricultural tests using the innovative scopeDx molecular diagnostic platform.
The agricultural tests aim to simplify the diagnosis and monitoring of diverse agricultural pathogens through a specific on-site platform. It enables precise and swift pathogen treatment, ultimately promoting sustainable and efficient farming practices in densely populated agricultural areas.
“This funding milestone accelerates our journey towards reshaping molecular diagnostics in agriculture. The scopeDx platform, built upon the CRISPR-Cas technology, is poised to become an instrumental tool in revolutionising agricultural testing,” says Niek Savelkoul, CEO of Scope Biosciences.
“With the support from SHIFT Invest and OostNL, we’re well-positioned to make these innovations accessible to the market,” adds Savelkoul.
Last September, Scope Biosciences, along with Wageningen University & Research (WUR), received a €150,000 ERC grant to further develop and improve the diagnostic technology. The company plans to independently apply for a larger ERC grant in 2023.
Revolutionary technology in genetics
The CRISPR-Cas technology is a revolutionary tool that has become a cornerstone of molecular biology and genetics, specifically gene-editing.
Based on the pioneering work of Professors John van der Oost and Raymond Staals at Wageningen University, Scope Biosciences is using the precision and ease of use of CRISPR-Cas to revolutionise molecular diagnostics.
The scopeDx platform technology, in particular, uses proprietary Type III CRISPR-Cas nucleases. This enables bio-engineers, scientists and experts to rapidly and accurately detect genetic materials easily for use in molecular diagnostics of infectious diseases, genotyping, and other applications.
CRISPR-Cas is widely known for its precise gene editing capabilities, which earned its developers the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. However, its applications go beyond genetic engineering, including its latest development in the agricultural sector.
Support from investors
Jos Putker, an investment manager specialising in the food sector at OostNL, expressed his satisfaction with the investment in Scope, which aligns with the East Netherlands Development Agency’s commitment to supporting and investing in visionary food and agriculture entrepreneurs, among others.
“Their proposition to apply CRISPR-Cas technology in very early stage diagnostics of diseases in plants and seeds, contributes to a sustainable and efficient production,” says Putker.
“We welcome Scope’s team and we, together with SHIFT, look forward to helping them to become successful,” adds Putker.
SHIFT is a Netherlands-based impact VC firm that invests in disruptive innovations, including those in the agricultural sector. Its Thematic Technology Transfer (TTT) programme helps researchers develop their research ideas, which is fitting with scopeDx ® development.
“Scope’s ability to develop and market tools for diagnostics that can enable vegetable- and seed breeders to detect issues earlier, is a perfect fit with our fund and mission,” says Sophie van Weede, Associate at SHIFT.
“We look forward to working with Scope’s team and supporting them in their market entry amongst others,” Van Weede adds.
The company has not yet disclosed further plans for the commercialisation of the scopeDx platform. However, with Savelkoul and Scope CTO Jurre Steens recently showcasing the tool at the Euroseeds Congress 2023, scopeDx® might be moving closer to market.