2020 edition of the Doctor Entrepreneur Program contemplated a proposal that unites a doctor company by UFRGS and PPG in Dentistry.

The proposal to innovate in artificial skin models from start up Nucleo Vitro earned the company a place among the 20 selected by the Doctor Entrepreneur Program, from FAPERGS in partnership with Sebrae RS and CNPq. The company was created in 2019 by Bibiana Franzen Matte, PhD in Oral Pathology by the Graduate Program in Dentistry (PPGODO) at UFRGS,and operates in the biotechnology sector, focused on safety and efficacy research for human health products based on in cellular and molecular biology. Nucleo Vitro’s proposal aims to develop innovative models of artificial skin similar to human skin, simulating aging processes and complexing tissue pigmentation.The development will be monitored for two years, and the project will be tutored by professor Marcelo Lamers, from PPGODO, who was Bibiana’s supervisor in undergraduate and doctorate.Both signed, along with company colleague Leonardo Francisco Diel,PhD student in Dentistry at UFRGS, the patent application registered with the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) entitled Device, method and cell culture system, which is awaiting approval .

The inclusion in the list of recipients, in addition to the recognition of the work, it also means another step on the path that links research to the market.Bibiana recalls that, once entering the doctorate in Dentistry, in 2016,planned to take the questions and solutions from the lab to an enterprise,dealing with an old bioethical discussion in society, the use of animals in tests: The development of artificial skin is a good solution to replace animal testing.In 2019, I created Nucleo Vitro to work with this research, points out Bibiana. The start up is part of the UFRGS Zenit Network, linked to the Scientific and Technological Park of the same name, and is dedicated to areas other than artificial skin models, segment in which it mainly serves clients in the cosmetics and pharmacy areas.

In 2020, as it could not be otherwise when it comes to a healthcare company, Núcleo Vitro is also putting efforts in the fight against the virus.The company is evaluating whether products for hands and surfaces, available on the market or in development, can actually eliminate the virus.

From the lab to the market; Bibiana also points out that it was necessary to overcome some difficulties to bring about the transformation of research into an enterprise: I had a difficult transition from academic experience to the market,but I participated in the Entrepreneurship Marathon at UFRGS and it was extremely valuable to understand the bureaucratic procedures and routine of a company. Now, the benefits of the announcement will be used to increase research on artificial skin and the company’s production capacity. Bibiana explains that the shade simulation on artificial skin already exists, but Núcleo Vitro would be a pioneer in Brazil,while emulating the aging process is an innovation in the industry. Human skin has a more outer layer that produces the different pigments we see, but the simplest model does not use this substance, and we can be the first in Brazil to use it. Mimicking the aging process in the laboratory is an innovation, but it is more complex,because aging can be caused by several factors.

In addition to product advances, the company plans to acquire a bioprinter to optimize production estimating to reduce the cost and time of operation: one thing is artisanal production, another is on industrial scale’,so to speak. Part of the process will be automated, so an employee can dedicate himself to other things during production, for example. We imagine that, with advances in the product and in the production system, there may be an increase in demand and maybe we can even work with other niche markets, he adds.

Inovation – The Doctor Entrepreneur Program is a partnership of FAPERGS, Sebrae RS and CNPq. The program selected 20 proposals,that will share R $ 3.5 million in investments, through the granting of postdoctoral scholarships of up to two years, and training in the management area. UFRGS was the institution with the most proposals, with 7 projects approved. Among the winners, the female protagonism stands out: 15 of the projects are led by women.

Click here to learn more about the projects selected in the 2020 edition of the Doctor entrepreneur program.