One of the projects ongoing in our group at KTH aims to develop the use of carbohydrate-binding proteins as polysaccharide cross-linkers in hydrogels and viscous formulations. We see this technology as a sustainable, fossil-free, and catalyst-free alternative to hydrogels made from petrochemicals and chemically modifed biopolymers. In 2021, the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA) supported this view by listing us as one of the Top 100 sustainable projects of the year.
Group leader Lauren McKee and postdoc Mengshu Hao co-founded the start-up company Glycolink AB in the autumn of 2021, with the goal of exploring commercialisation of this hydrogel technology. Our third and final co-founder is Mohamad Takwa, a serial biotech entrepeneur who has supported a number of successful start-ups. We are ably assisted by business developer Isak Edvardsson, who has worked alongside Mohamad for several years.
We filed our first patent application in November 2021 and are now pursuing several lines of basic research both at KTH and with partners. In the coming months we will be measuring the sustainability of our hydrogel-making innovation, testing the scaleability of our manufacturing processes, and screening the safety of our material for on-skin applications such as cosmetics and wound dressings.
In the earliest days of this project, I received an award from KTH Innovation that supported market research to verify the commercial viability of the material. Since 2019 our research in this area at KTH has been funded by the Swedish research council Formas. And most recently we secured a small business loan from Almi for hypothesis testing and MVP (minimal viable product) validation.