BI/OND, a spin-off company from Delft University of Technology, mimics organ cells on computer chips and thus hopes to speed up the search for medicines for heart and brain disorders, among other things. The company was founded, by chance, in the Else Kooi Lab (the cleanroom of TU Delft) when Niko, William and Cinzia each worked as PhD students on their own research projects.
In 2016, Niko, William and Cinzia all worked in the cleanroom: a clean working environment that is designed to reduce or even eliminate contamination in the product, process or research area. It all started by accident, the young researchers told us in the Nodes article From cleanroom to boardroom from October 2017. William: ‘I was fabricating a device for my PhD project, and was trying to solve something I had been struggling with for a couple of days. I modified my prototype and immediately thought that it was a useless call. But then, after talking with Niko, we understood we could actually design a brand new device with it.’
Being proper PhD candidates they immediately started thinking about the kick ass publication they could write about it. That is, until Cinzia “meddled” her way in. ‘I was already thinking about life after my PhD, about doing job interviews. However, I wanted to make a difference and I knew that was not going to happen at a big company. So, I convinced them to create a business out of this.’
An interaction took place that resulted in a full-fledged start-up. Niko: ‘Our goal is to develop a number of chips that simulate multiple functions and organs. These chips with a user-friendly interface will then be used by biologists. We are also working on improving the predictive value of Organ-on-Chip, by adding better functions, so that we can realistically imitate the dynamics of the human body.’ Despite the fact that the three are very busy, there was still time to receive the Philips Innovation Award 2019 and open a new trading day by giving a loud gong.
Watch here the interview Niko, William and Cinzia had with television station RTL-Z.