Wageningen University & Research (WUR) is selling its share in coatings company Surfix to market parties Qurin Diagnostics and LioniX International. WUR will remain involved in the further growth of its spin-off. The sale is consistent with WUR’s policy to develop knowledge generated within the university and make it available to the business community to create economic value. Surfix is part of the StartLife Startup Community.
Surfix, which started out in 2011 as a WUR spin-off, develops and markets special coatings on the basis of knowledge generated at Wageningen. These nanocoatings are mainly interesting to companies developing biosensors: sensors outside the body that measure all kinds of parameters when they come into contact with biological material. Qurin and LioniX, for example, have been working for some time on a biosensor capable of detecting cancer at an early stage in people’s urine. Although resembling a pregnancy test in this respect, the test should discover whether someone has cancer. To make the sensor sensitive enough for this purpose, Surfix’ special coating is extremely important. This was the main reason why Qurin and LioniX decided to buy Surfix.
WUR’s Director Value Creation Sebastiaan Berendse is glad that Surfix will be sold, which he feels is a logical step: “It is beautiful to see how this young company has a practical impact and at the same time enriches the environment around WUR. The company will maintain its presence on the campus, for example, and Surfix will continue to use our facilities. The company is at a crossroads in its development and the new shareholders allow it to take the next step to ensure product diversification and corporate growth. Applications such as early diagnostics and personalized medicine place Surfix and its coatings right at the centre of our OnePlanet initiative with Imec, Radboud University and Radboudumc. This development also dovetails nicely with our plans for the coming years as formulated in our Strategy Plan.”
Luc Scheres is the Director of Surfix and holds a PhD from Wageningen. He is very happy with the way his company has grown over the last years: “The Laboratory of Organic Chemistry led by Professor Han Zuilhof had already started working on so-called surface modification before 2011 – and still does. A lot of knowledge and experience was therefore available, even eight years ago. At a certain point, it became high time to start working on nanocoatings, not only from an academic perspective but also for commercial reasons.
After I had obtained my PhD, Han asked me whether I would be interested in setting up a company. With the backing of two experienced investors and a senior professor, I decided to take the plunge. That’s how we started Surfix. Although I laid the groundwork in my attic, I soon rented one of the WUR labs. We started out with two students on placement; now, eight years later, we have twelve employees.”