Ever since we started working on MEDEA we realized it’s very promising business potential:

There is a big gap in today’s aptamer market due to the cost and limitations of SELEX techniques, hence hindering the extended use of aptamers. They essentially outweigh antibodies in many ways, so we at iGEM Athens firmly believe that aptamers, assisted by our method, can play a central role in tomorrow's medicine and beyond.
We envision MEDEA as an automated biological system, supported by in-silico software and carefully constructed & intelligent hardware equipment, that would produce high-affinity aptamers against assigned target proteins.

In that sense, we’ll be able to produce aptamers, faster and with lower production costs in comparison to our SELEX-using competitors.

This is why we commenced processes to gain insight:
1) into the inner workings of the business world and
2) on how we can orient our project towards entrepreneurship, as early on as we conceived MEDEA herself.

Business Canvas Model

Business Plan

Experts’ Feedback

“Feedback is the cheapest, most powerful, yet most underused management tool we have at our disposal.” - Unknown

As soon as MEDEA started receiving its final shape & form, we considered it of monumental importance to heavily engage with the market. This was a direct consequence of the realization that we should, in a way, attain to the needs of our prospective partners and customers. And so we were really looking for insight from them.

Having potential applications of MEDEA deep into consideration we came in contact with a wide range of experts from various scientific fields.To be more specific, we approached:

- The European Space Agency (ESA) to consult them on the promising use of aptamers as “space medicine”. These molecules have exhibited potential to withstand harsh interplanetary conditions and could therefore be used as therapeutic agents in the new era of space exploration.

- Toxicology specialists and Venomtech, a biotechnology company focusing on venom technologies. We asked for their insight on how can our method became an essential part of envenomation treatment worldwide, in the shortest time possible.

- Aptamer experts, on how their work with SELEX has been, what difficulties they encounter with it and what improvements would they like to see in the aptamer production protocols. We presented our method to them and paid close attention, particularly to their remarks.

- Carefully chosen university researchers from different fields. We particularly asked each researcher what problems do they frequently face in their field of expertise and in what way could they benefit from a new & forthcoming technology such as that of aptamers. For instance, the leader of the RNA Group of the University of Patras, Dr Stathopoulos, recently began using SELEX and told us about the problems he faced while using this protocol. He's probably the only scientist in Greece utilizing SELEX.

Product Comparison

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." - Leonardo da Vinci

We at iGEM Athens believe in making things simpler & easier than they already are.
One of the founding values of MEDEA was just that.

Our method pledges to be better than SELEX in almost every possible aspect. We do understand that the R.O.I. (Return on Investment) is also a vital aspect of every business venture.

Listed below you can find a diagram concerning a brief Cost-Benefit analysis we conducted. Prices are approximated, since we are not in the production phase of our company just yet. But it goes without saying that the cost margin of our products in comparison to SELEX-derived products is extensively large and permits such approximations.

It is worth pointing out that the projected prices do not include the starting “tariffs” that are necessary to start running MEDEA. These include the Morbidostat construction costs (which we have summed to be $250 per-unit approximately) and the respective bioinformatics software.

To summarize: MEDEA-derived aptamers are more cost-effective than their SELEX-derived counterparts and there is evidently room for flexible commerce pricing, considering virtually non-existing competition at the moment.

Interaction with potential Investors

DEMO S.A. & ELPEN - Experimental Research & Training Center

For a small scale startup company coming into the world, one of the most pivotal aspects that determines a big part of its course, apart from strategic planning & mentoring, is the acquisition of capital itself: Investments

We made it our mission to develop and nourish a constant interaction with the real business world from the start. After some market research we ended up with a couple of crucial meetings with heads of companies, among others. Here is what happened:

In February, our team the Headquarters of a large pharmaceutical company situated in Greece - DEMO S.A.
We proceeded in meeting the President & CEO of the company, Mr. Demos. We got acquainted, and talked about

- how science has evolved during the past decades,
- our project and our start-up aspirations,
- the industry
- business & funding in Greece
- tips on a startup approach considering our timeline and market dynamics

In the midst of our fruitful conversation, Mr. Demos also revealed some of the company’s future goals. Interested in supporting scientific research and education, his long-term vision was to establish a biological research training center in Athens. We, as a self-made team, salute such meaningful initiatives!

In the beginning of October, we had the opportunity to sit down with the head of a big pharmaceutical industry of Greece; Dr. Apostolos Papalois,is an accredited and strongly influential, yet humble individual with a broad worldview. His background as biologist, academic and Director of the ELPEN Pharmaceuticals Experimental Research Center rendered him an ideal contact for us in the current period.

Sandra and Fani conversed with him, among other things, about: - the state of biotechnology and research in Greece - MEDEA and its potential applications - an overview of the business world - the importance of patenting and - what makes a project, such as ours, more attractive to investors

Sandra and Fani conversed with him, among other things, about:

-the state of biotechnology and research in Greece
-MEDEA and its potential applications
-an overview of the business world
-the importance of patenting and
-what makes a project, such as ours, more attractive to investors

He congratulated us on our initiatives, and suggested to arrange some meetings for us with several of his overseas colleagues, while we’re in Boston.
Our meeting with Dr. Papalois a success and there was a mutual will to meet again!

Further Networking

“To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” -Ulysses by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Meeting BioScientists & Boundless Networking

At iGEM Athens, we always strived to nourish a consistent dialogue with the contemporary scientific community. Our work on aptamers in combination with our extrovertness gave us some unique interaction opportunities during the past months & we are confident that the best is yet to come.

First off, the research we’re conducting caught the attention of some scientists from Stanford, also working in the field of Bioengineering and Synthetic Biology. They coincidentally found themselves in Athens in September and we met up! During our interaction, we exchanged aptamer intel & talked about interesting topics such as:

- differences in research between the two sides of the Atlantic
- the diverse sources of research investments
- the constantly increasing interest and investment of the scientific community in Bioinformatics
- MEDEA and its potential impact on the market

Our team is also the proud founder of the iGEM Aptamers Hub, a collaboration initiative that aims to facilitate aptamer research & bridge scientific communication between iGEM teams and aptamer scientists in general. Through the aforementioned partnerships & interactions, and always with MEDEA by our side, we aspire to be diligently aware of the market and on the forefront of aptamers research.

In the social media world, we punctually stayed up-to-date through Facebook & Instagram and through daily posts on Twitter. On the latter, we interacted with other Synthetic Biology teams and scientists themselves.

We truly believed, since day one, that an active internet presence would render us more competent to grasp the real-life situation of aptamers and be alert of upcoming trends in our field of research. We even went as far as reaching out to Elon Musk himself through Twitter, which he clearly loves, regarding one very promising application of aptamers & MEDEA: Space Medicine. That is because aptamers were recently ruled to possess the required resilience to withstand, on a molecular level, the harsh conditions of outer space.

Unfortunately, our particular communication attempt proved futile! We can't say we didn't try, at least..!


A compilation of our project’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats

Future Plan

Our experience with MEDEA, during the preceding months was a very positive one. We have achieved a lot so far and the Giant Jamboree may be ad portas, but we like to think of it only as “the start of something bigger.” We have already begun setting up our short-term laboratory & public engagement plans for when we come back from abroad.
Below you can see a long term diagram we crafted for the coming several years.