Piret Arukuusk

Vectiopep raises €450,000 to develop novel cancer treatment technology

Created by researchers at the University of Tartu, the spin-off Vectiopep has raised €450,000 from an investor syndicate led by Ivo Remmelg and Dag Nurm to help the company reach the next stage of growth. The University of Tartu will also acquire a stake in Vectiopep through UniTartu Ventures, a university investment company.

Vectiopep is developing a new immunotherapy-based cancer treatment. The innovation is based on a unique chemical compound that delivers therapeutic RNA to the patient's immune cells by means of specific cell-crossing peptides. In this way, immune cells receive information about, for example, which mutations are present in tumour cells.

Backed by the investment received, Vectiopep intends to carry out the necessary research and development to expand its technology. The first major goal is to take the technology to the clinical phase, that is, human trials. According to Kaido Kurrikoff, founder of Vectiopep, this is a journey of several years and the current investment is only the first step. "We are grateful to all the angel investors who supported us and to the University of Tartu and UniTartu Ventures. We can be grateful that Estonia and Tartu are so small that we have the opportunity to communicate directly with everyone and get advice," Kurrikoff said.

According to Mart Maasik, CEO of UniTartu Ventures, by signing the agreement, the university confirms that it is motivated to support researchers in entrepreneurship. “Although Vectiopep is at its early stage and still has a long way to go, as a new shareholder, the university demonstrates a long-term interest in contributing to the company’s development. They will also continue to have the support of the UniTartu Ventures team, who will provide valuable advice and help to solve problems that hinder the company's growth, raise capital and mitigate risks," adds Mart Maasik.

The addition of a new company to the UniTartu Ventures portfolio is important for the university because it means that a team that has been doing research for a long time is now starting the next chapter. Research will continue in parallel with the development of the company to bring the innovation to the market and closer to the user.

Vectiopep was founded by Kaido Kurrikoff and Piret Arukuusk, researchers at the University of Tartu Institute of Technology. In 2022, the team received an experimental development grant from the University of Tartu and participated in the pre-incubation programme "From Science to Business!". In 2023, the company's founders won first place at the Startup Day Deep Tech Pitch Match.

In addition to Vectiopep, the University of Tartu's UniTartu Ventures portfolio also includes Gearbox Biosciences, UP Catalyst and Estonian Multiomics Company.

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