“Collaboration is going to be the key factor for this new industry in biofabrication,” said Eric Gatenholm, co-founder and CEO of CELLINK, which quickly rose to IPO in under one year.
Cellink, founded in 2016, was listed on Nasdaq after a 1070% oversubscribed IPO to combine biotech and additive manufacturing.
“ARMI is defining a new way of manufacturing by bringing together all the players in the ecosystem – first,” he continued. “This is very different from other forms of advanced manufacturing. We will be sharing IP, regulatory issues and protecting the innovation from the start.”
3D-printers that could print tissue were already a reality when Cellink was founded, but Erik Gatenholm's and Hector Martinez Avila's idea was to produce 'biological ink' that could be used in various printers to print different types of cell tissue.
Once completed, Cellink's founders quickly discovered that the market for tissue-printing 3D-printers was not saturated so they built a prototype for Cellink's own printer model and it turned out to be very cost-efficient selling at $10,000 USD. Cellink has a business model that mimics that of conventional printer manufacturers: promoting sales of their ink by also selling the printer technology.
“In the biofabrication manufacturing arena, Cellink will stick to our focus area and leave the rest to our collaborators ... but the real success will be when we can fabricate on-demand organs in the operating room.”
Cellink's affordable printers have been purchased by customers in 25 countries around the world, mostly universities in the US and Asia.
"Our vision is to be able to print new human organs. We want to write the history of 3D-bioprinting and always be at the edge between science fiction and reality," said Gatenholm.
Another prospect for Cellink is printing new types of tissues, and new types of organs, for non-human and non-medical applications.
With the advancement of CRISPR technology it will be possible to design your own genes, bacteria and cells. When Cellink realizes their vision, it may be possible to print designer cell types in complex 3D configurations - to create all manner of regenerative therapies.
“We see the use of implants that are all human tissue or all fabricated materials or a combination of the two.”
Complex organs will be possible in the future but to get there Cellink, like others in this area, need to scale up.
Cellink recently opened the doors to its new office in Kyoto, Japan at the leading research institution, Kyoto University
The new office at Kyoto University’s Innovation Hub Kyoto will serve as a base for research, as well as facilitating relationships with collaborators in Asia. Due to the high demand of CELLINK technology and its rapid partnership growth within Asia, CELLINK has decided to further establish themselves in the Asian market.
“Fifty years from now, we are going to look back in time and see that the investments, the time and the R&D and the innovations started today were the harbinger of things to come in advanced manufacturing.”
Cellink has offices in Palo Alto, California, Kyoto, Japan and Gothenburg, Sweden, and collaborates with different organizations around the United States across the globe.