Over 12 million people suffer from corneal blindness but with StemSight’s innovation they can gain their sight back. This all female founded team just launched their company and announced a €500k seed round from investors like deep tech fund Voima Ventures and Avohoidon Tutkimussäätiö.
Corneal blindness is the 4th leading cause of blindness, and affects people of all ages. Currently, the treatment for corneal blindness includes a transplant from a donor and the waiting list for corneal transplants is long. Each year there are around 300 new fully untreatable cases in the EU that are destined to be blinded for life. StemSight brings hope to all patients, offering a new treatment that does not depend on cornea donor tissue.
“There is a huge lack of cornea donor tissue with 12.7 million people worldwide waiting for a corneal transplant. We can use human stem cells to manufacture new corneal cells in a scalable way to provide solutions for different types of corneal blindness”, explains Laura Koivusalo, co-founder and CEO of StemSight.
The StemSight team has worked on the innovation now for a combined 30 years as part of a research group from Tampere University. Now they are taking the innovation out from the lab and bringing it into practise. “Public funding could only get us so far. With the new company we can truly start to change patients’ lives”, says Koivusalo.
The members of the founding team have extensive expertise in the field and they have PhDs from Biotechnology, Genetics, and Cell and Tissue Engineering. The team is also one of a kind as it’s one of the few all female teams in the Nordic deep tech scene. “While it’s a big step to start a company, one of the motivations is the possibility of acting as an example for other women to start their companies and go forward,” says Koivusalo.
“Stem cell treatment and in larger scale genetic therapy represent the next big thing in regenerative medicine. StemSight is there right at the front of this wave. Their pioneering work on the treatment of corneal blindness and the technology to grow new corneal cells is remarkable”, says life science investor and the CEO of Avohoidon Tutkimussäätiö, Kalle Öhman.
“Innovations like these always require a long background in research. Now is the perfect time for StemSight to step into the business world and start realizing their huge global potential in regenerative medicine. We are extremely excited to support StemSight during this journey and work together on the board and as one of the owners”, says Mikko Kumpulainen, co-founder and Partner at Voima Ventures.
StemSight is a cell therapy startup developing novel treatments for blindness operating in Tampere, Finland. StemSight’s aim is to develop off-the-shelf human spare parts to replace corneal donor tissue using human pluripotent stem cells. The team compliments the scientific excellence in stem cells and tissue engineering of the founder team with experience from clinical ophthalmology and pharma industry in their board of directors.