Boundless opportunities for eczema relief with Gladskin
An in-depth interview with Micreos CEO Mark Offerhaus
Micreos, a Dutch biotechnology company, is pioneering the development of breakthrough antibacterial technology, tackling the urgent problem of growing antibiotic resistance. Their line of Gladskin products, safely target the bacteria that play a role in inflammatory skin conditions, such as acne, eczema, rosacea and shaving irritation, effectively easing the daily pain of those suffering from these devastating skin issues around the world. Gladskin products with the Staphefekt enzyme are the only ones in the world that target only the “bad” bacteria, thus helping to re-balance the skin microbiome.
We took some time to meet with Micreos CEO Mark Offerhaus, who gave us some insight into his personal journey, the story of Micreos, and his experience working with Catalyze.
Hello Mark! Thank you for taking the time to talk with us. What was your life like before, and what that led you to Micreos, and the development of Gladskin?
I’m a lawyer by training, but never practiced law. Instead I first spent over ten years in the financial world, at ING, including 5 years in Tokyo. A great experience, because we built a company from scratch and it taught me this is actually possible! In a way it spoiled me for life, but it also helped me to take the plunge and make a career switch, replacing the financial arena for my passion: biotech! I never regretted cutting the proverbial golden chains, although of course developing a biotech company is quite a different challenge!
How have you seen your products make impact on the lives of those suffering from skin issues?
With our Gladskin products for eczema, acne and rosacea we’ve helped over 100.000 people by now, and for many of them our technology has been life changing, often within days. Our customers are actually our greatest ambassadors, thousands of them have shared their experiences, real stories, from real people. I cannot describe the feeling of gratitude this has given me. We stuck to the development of our technology despite plenty of “can’t be done’s”, and actually took it to the finish line. This requires perseverance, but the funny thing is: in the process we’ve come to the point where many of the people at Micreos – we call them Micreotes – are not ‘working’ anymore, but simply doing what they love, 24/7. And we’re taking our technology to plenty of new areas, ranging from other applications in human health to animal health, food safety, agriculture and the environment. The opportunities are boundless.
What were some of the R&D challenges you encountered?
For the next decade there’s plenty of work to do to expand the applicability of our targeted antibacterial technology and develop it to its full potential. It’s exciting to be a part of this, working with some of the best and the brightest, across the globe. This includes immunologists, dermatologists, microbiologists, and many other specialists. As an example, we’re now trying to bridge the gap between the microbiome and the field of oncology: certain bacterial species seem to play a role in the development of malignancy in particular forms of skin cancer. We’ll now explore if we can prevent the onset of this malignancy by targeted elimination of only this bacterial species.
How did the working relationship with Catalyze come to fruition?
We’ve been working together successfully for many years, always aiming for joint success. But of course you need a suitable project to apply for an SMEi grant. We identified an opportunity together and decided to go for it!
How was the journey towards funding with Catalyze?
We collaborated closely on goals and scope of the project with Neeltje and Patricia before turning this into an application. Neeltje helped put the opportunity on our radar, while Patricia did a great job in properly framing the concept while strictly keeping timelines!
How did you feel when Micros landed the SME P2 win?
Fantastic! Rolling out our technology in Europe means potentially helping millions of people. The impact on quality of life of skin problems like eczema, but also inflammatory acne and rosacea, is huge – and often underestimated. Yet it affects so many lives, every day. As an example, in many developed countries 1 in 5 children now suffers from eczema, an incredible number. There are hardly any people who do NOT at least have a friend or relative who can be helped with our technology. Therefore, people need to know about it. There’s no need to wait and no time to lose! The SMEi-grant will actually help us accomplish this.
What you think this win means in terms of furthering your innovation?
This grant enables us to rapidly increase our manufacturing capacity, needed to serve the European markets. In addition it will help us expand the use of our technology and reach out to both consumers and the medical community at large.
Where do you envision the future of Micreos?
Our strategy is straightforward. Based on technology leadership we aim to develop concrete and meaningful products, with partners to accelerate. More concrete, we’re expanding our endolysin manufacturing plant in Bilthoven, and we’re now establishing the Micreos technology center in Wädenswil, close to Zurich, where our ETH partner is based, investing more in the deep rooted research in this field. In addition we’re exploring commercial and development partnerships with pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies to roll out our technology globally. In the end this should lead to sustainable value creation. We’ve invented the concept of HAMAPASAPing, meaning: Help as many as possible as soon as possible. This is the intrinsic motivator for Micreos employees and creates a positive vibe in our work, every day!
Funding Obtained: SME P2; €2.5 million
For more information about Gladskin, read here