Alumnus testimonial

Alumni Jurre Steens - MSc Biotechnology

After my Master biotechnology with the medical specialisation I started the start-up Scope Biosciences with three study friends. Right now this start-up is doing well and last April we hired our first employee. We aspire to fill our lab within 2 to 3 years and to become one of the largest players in agri-food diagnostics. Next to my start-up, I am a PhD student in Wageningen from which I gain valuable skills and knowledge for my own company, and vice-versa.

Falling all the way down and getting back up again is part of the experience of owning a start-up, this may not sound fun, but it really is.

What is Scope Biosciences?

"Scope Biosciences is based on cutting-edge CRISPR-Cas type III technology. We use CRISPR-Cas in diagnostics, as it is capable of recognising DNA sequences in organisms. We are interested in diagnostics in the agri-food sector and are therefore located in the food valley in Wageningen. Besides that, we are also active in the humane healthcare sector with a main focus on transplant diagnostics. For example, when a person is involved in a car accident as an organ donor, fast genotyping is required. Not all donor organs are suitable for a person needing the organ, due to specific proteins that are present on the organ. With our products we aim to get the genotyping done in the ambulance, so a quick match can be found. We are a science-driven company as we are all still scientists by heart and we aim to grow bigger each year.’’

What motivated you to start Scope Biosciences?

"For my Master thesis I participated in a big contest in synthetic biology called iGEM. iGEM basically felt like the baby-version of a company, as you learn to create and work out a synthetic biology idea completely. Participating in iGEM triggered the entrepreneur in myself and the three other founders of Scope Biosciences were actually all part of my iGEM team. I have always been an entrepreneur to some extent. When I was younger I owned a computer repair company, but later on in life the entrepreneurship in combination with biotechnology really became my passion. On Wageningen University & Research there are several possibilities to develop yourself as an entrepreneur and I would really recommend people to do so.’’

What challenges do you encounter while owning your own start-up?

"As our start-up is growing with time, new challenges occur every day. In the beginning phase of a start-up you are really just trying things out. You are in the research stage of your R&D phase, you research which things will work and which won’t. At some point you move to the development stage of your R&D phase. In the development stage you have to deal with product development and streamlining. On top of this the business related issues become a bigger factor. Your company will have shareholders, salary administration needs to be set up, there are governmental guidelines for setting up a life-sciences lab and budgeting/cost estimations are a continuous process. None of us had a business background, which made these things quite challenging. However, we are slowly getting the hang of it as a team. Owning a start-up is like a train, at some point it is moving regardless and you just have to move along with it.

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