Our history began a long time ago. It actually started already in 1874, when the pharmacist Morten Nyegaard established an agency for pharmaceuticals in Oslo. That was the beginning of the pharmaceutical industry in Norway, which we wish to carry on.
The idea and concept for Catapult Life Science has been developed the over the past few years, in part based on experience from the GE Healthcare Pilot Plant in Oslo. This was a small factory tailored for developing projects beyond the size-limit of the test tubes in the laboratories. They used to have some surplus capacity and offered external companies the use of their facilities for product development. One of these companies was Polypure who brought their own equipment to the factory and were able to do the first step i their process of making custom made PEG-based spacers for the biotech industry. Another client became Omegatri, a start-up company making dry powder from fish oil who at some point needed space for equipment larger than their mixmaster from the 70’s. In the Pilot Plant they found the knowledge and infrastructure required for upscaling product manufacture, 400 volt power outlets, compressed air, and a water hose with boiling water.
The experience gained from working together in the period from 2011 onwards, meant that three of Catapult Life Science’s founders, Erik Agner, general manager of Polypure, Arne Aabye, manager of GE Healthcare’s Pilot Plant, and Astrid Hilde Myrset, former general manager of Omegatri, together decided to see if it was possible to develop the concept they had already tried, to a general concept for this industry. The aim was to establish a catapult center for life sciences.
After many meetings with funding agencies, government representatives, potential customers, supporters and other stakeholders, the vision was presented in a 2-minute pitch in the newly established Life Science Cluster (later established as The Life Science Cluster, TLSC) in December 2015.
There was Kristin Schoultz, head of the production unit at the Folkehelseinstituttet, which is discontinued as of the summer 2017. Kristin had been working for a long time to maintain the ability to produce drugs for clinical trials in Norway. Bjørn Pedersen, the founder of Diatec Monoclonals, developing and producing antibody-based drugs, was also present. These two made common cause with the others, and decided there and then to join and realize the vision of a catapult center that can offer product development, including the development of both chemical and biological agents.
Together, these five enthusiasts founded Catapult Life Science. Our common goal is that Catapult Life Science with time can carry out all kinds of services in which we collectively have the required expertise and thereby help ensure that our know-how and our network in product development will benefit a wide range of new projects. So we hope to help create industrial activity which in turn will help patients who desperately need new drugs in order to live healthier and longer.
With support from Oslo Tech (Oslo Innovation Center’s operating company), Sintef, Curida and Sanivo Pharma, the company Catapult Life Science was established in June 2016. Now, in March 2017, we are getting new owners who want to expand the horizons of Catapult Life Science so that we can offer a panel of services and expertise. These include IFE, which develops and produces radiolabeled pharmaceuticals, GE Healthcare, with their experience in product development and manufacturing and Vitas with expertise in chemical and biological analysis. The University of Oslo will also be more directly involved in that Inven2 takes part as an owner. The community work contributed by our owners is essential to lift Catapult Life Science off the ground.