Meet our Premium Member Ranja Salvamoser, CEO and Founder of Mermaid Bio

What is Mermaid Bio, could you tell us a little bit more about the company?

Mermaid Bio is a Munich-based biotech startup that was founded in February 2022. The core team consists of CBO, Dr. Chris Baldwin and Science Director, Assc. Prof. James Vince and myself. The company was founded because we realized that antibodies are still not being used inside cells to treat diseases even though they have taken the world of medicine by storm. But with most proteins residing inside the cell, antibody therapies still have so much more to conquer.

When the pandemic hit and we were stuck in lockdown in Melbourne, Australia, we quickly realized that thanks to the new COVID vaccines, we now had a way to transport small antibody domains into cells. Having worked with James and Chris for years, I knew what outstanding leaders and experts they are, and I wanted to work with them on something special.

Lastly, with my experience of hitting the glass ceiling in the workplace, I wasn’t ready to accept societal limitations of me (and others) based on age and gender as opposed to merit. I wanted to start a company that placed no limits on the abilities of its team regardless of gender.

Tell us more about your plans for 2024. What is your long-term vision?

We are currently building our first major investment round. We have had fantastic successes proving out the intrabody platform in 2022 and 2023 in vitro and now also started our in vivo program. Now, we need support to grow the team and achieve the next milestones building on these successes.

In the long term, we plan to partner with pharma companies to take our assets to the clinic and ultimately benefit patients globally. My long-term vision is for us to be pioneering intrabody medicines for applications in cancers, infectious diseases and many more.

What has been the biggest success that you have achieved with your startup?

To be the first company to show that intrabodies can successfully be delivered and expressed using mRNA/LNPs in cancer cells. We’re also immensely happy to have secured two major investments, one by Angels4 Health, which is a group of fantastic experts in the biotech and health field and the second one by the renowned Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. We managed to achieve all this on our own efforts. We’re not a spin off; thus no university (or company) is serving as a safety net.

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently? What are your biggest learnings?

We would start off with better lawyers. The best lawyers are the most important external support to early stage startups like ours. Otherwise, there are little things, but to be honest, without the little hiccups, there are no learnings, and we needed all the learnings to grow.

What motivates you to continue your business every day?

The incredible people that make up our team at Mermaid – that’s my biggest motivation. We’re constantly having each other’s back and offer support where needed. Also, I truly believe in this idea and that we can make it work given the opportunity.

One piece of advice for someone just starting out with their startup?

Don’t save money on lawyers, if you start having doubts about your lawyers: RUN!

What does being a member of the Swiss Startup Association mean to you?

On a personal and professional level, connections in the scientific and startup industries run through Mermaid’s veins. For example, our Science Director, James, completed his postdoc with the late and renowned Swiss biochemist, Jürg Tschopp, and some of our closest business angels reside in Switzerland. We understand the depth of knowledge, science and resources available to us within Switzerland, and we want to be well-connected with other like-minded entrepreneurs and supporters from the country.

Would you recommend joining the Swiss Startup Association? 

Yes, growing your network and support is pivotal and this program is a fantastic opportunity to do so.


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