Meet Cellink, the first EIC-funded Unicorn
The Gothenburg-based company achieved $1 billion in market valuation in just 4.5 years and became the first EIC-funded unicorn. In 2016, when the company was officially founded, Cellink’s IPO was already more than 1070% over-subscribed. As a result, the founder Erik Gatenholm was placed on the Forbes’ “30 under 30” list in 2018, becoming Entrepreneur of the Year. The company has been able to commercialise products used by more than 1.000 scientists across more than 55 countries.
As of November 2020, there are more than 500 unicorns around the world, with more than 20% of them coming from Europe. Sweden achieved the highest concentration of billion-dollar companies per capita in the world, after Silicon Valley. The Swedish startup Cellink joined this list, together with Spotify, iZettle, Fortnox, and Klarna. The European Innovation Council supported the company's exponential growth, providing Fast Track to Innovation (FTI), FET Open and EIC Accelerator Grants.
During an FTI Project, Cellink developed tissue models for toxicology applications and realised that many researchers were having difficulties developing their cancer models for different drug tests. The company decided to transform this challenge into a new business opportunity, revolutionising MedTech with the world’s most cost-effective bioprinter, priced at $4,999.
After the FTI, the company jumped into the TumourPrint project, funded by the EIC Accelerator, and brought a new type of technology to the market. BIO X6 is a new six-printhead bioprinting system that has the capability to print cancer tumours for researchers. The CEO Erik Gatenholm recognises the importance of these grants to achieve these results and disrupt the field.
“Between 2017 and 2018, we developed our company tremendously, and I think the fact that we received FTI and EIC Accelerator Funding contributed immensely to this. We learned a lot from a project management perspective as well as on developing new products and bringing them to the market. And I think that’s an important step in any business to bring it to a successful stage”, said Erik Gatenholm during an interview to the EIC Community.
In 2017, Cellink received a grant of approximately €3 Million to develop a FET-Open project together with 6 partners. In 2018, the company received a Phase 2 grant of € 2.4 Millions. The projects SilkFUSION and TumourPrint will both end in 2021.