The American start-up Encapsulate won the Mastermind Competition in the DeepTech category, as part of ICT Spring Europe in Luxembourg (September 14-15). Our team recently met with its Co-Founder & COO, Leila Daneshmandi.
Encapsulate is an automated tumour-on-a-chip system that can grow patients’ cancer cells outside the body, and test the efficacy of chemotherapeutic drugs against them to advocate for the best course of treatment.
What are the next projects/goals for Encapsulate?
Leila Daneshmandi: We're currently running our clinical studies on tissue samples from colon cancer patients, in partnership with Hartford Healthcare in Connecticut. We take a portion of the biopsies from these patients, grow them within our system, and test different chemotherapy drugs to assess their effectiveness. It's been really encouraging to see our technology work in real-time on patient samples. Our next step is to raise our seed round. We also have a grant with the International Space Station where we will be sending our biochips onto the Space Station to test how cancer cells behave in microgravity and on-orbit, which is something else that we're really looking forward to.
What is the biggest challenge that the DeepTech industry is facing right now?
L. D.: Technology is evolving now at a faster pace than before. As a start-up in this space, we have to be on the constant lookout for new technologies and trends that are shaping the future and the market and to be able to adapt.
What are the main struggles you encountered when starting your business?
L. D.: Being in the healthcare space, our go-to-market path is longer than that of some other sectors and is also influenced by diverse stakeholders in different agencies and organizations. One challenge was to understand the role of each of these entities and to understand how they affected our go-to-market plan.
How did Mastermind Competition help to bring additional value to your business?
L. .D.: The Mastermind competition was a great opportunity for us to enter Europe's entrepreneurial community and to network and make connections. We're very much looking forward to expanding and strengthening these connections.