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50 Innovative Companies to Watch 2021

An innovator focused on developing evidence-based medicine with large unmet needs - specifically for children: Cessatech


In the fast-paced world we live in, there is a lack of availability of medicines that are appropriate for children. We must understand here that children are not sized-down adults, and several factors like developmental maturation and age play an important part in their medicine. Drug development for children requires a very complex set of skills, and it goes down to the preclinical level, where we must invest more in deeper toxicology studies. Furthermore, it is also crucial to focus on the formulation while developing drugs for children. Barriers that hinder the growth of children’s drug development include lack of infrastructure, limited competence in drug development, ethical worries, and reduced commercial interest. Drugs developed for children must comply with ethical research of the highest quality, and adequate clinical trials must be conducted to ensure that the medicine is safe for children.

Globally, there are various firms providing excellent services for children’s drug development, but Cessatech stands out from the rest. Cessatech’s business model offers unique, scalable economic value creation by identifying and developing drugs with a short time to market and risk-reduced profile. What started with co-founder Bettina Nygaard Nielsen’s Ph.D. dissertation from 4 years of research, supervised by co-founder Steen Henneberg, has today developed into a company focusing on the improvement of paediatric care, specialized in the development of innovative pharmaceuticals in age-appropriate formulations intended for use in children.

In conversation with Jes Trygved, CEO of Cessatech

Q. ‘Rethinking Child Treatments.’ Would you like to elaborate on this a bit more?

Rethinking Child Treatments is our ‘purpose,’ the reason we exist, and the motivation behind what started as a project from Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark and continued into a listed company. Whenever we look at new projects or the way we work with devices or solutions, we always evaluate and consider the impact on children, it will make a difference and how important is this difference. The term ‘rethinking’ is also very important to understand, we are not an early-stage biotech research company working with peptides or molecules, we are a company re-evaluating current solutions and investigating new solutions based on prior experience or new administration forms. We are all driven by an interest to get these products out on the market, and we want to see the solutions being applied in hospitals and not just in research or academic environments.

Q. What can you tell us about business model innovation? And do you think codifying your current business model would serve any purpose when it comes to this?

We constantly focus on ‘synergies’ and how this can enable us to expand our business and accelerate product development processes. Some biotech companies focus on specific disease areas, many do not – we focus on approved medicine for children, and only for children, and we also focus on specific disease areas. For us to further expand our offerings to children, we will look into different disease areas, and it will become important that we can find synergies – otherwise, the business model will not turn into a successful commercial model. One product in one disease will rarely be the foundation of a long journey. Currently, we are focusing on analgesic and sedative solutions, which are within the same area, and once we get closer to product approval, we will announce our selling model through partners or potentially alone. We have several options to consider.

Q. Cessatech’s business model offers unique, scalable economic value creation by identifying and developing drugs with a short time to market and risk-reduced profile. How do you interpret this further?

When we take on new projects, even at the initial stage, we want to make sure that the solutions have some history or experience and synergy - for instance, within adults or hospital use already taking place, this could also be off-label use if nothing is available and approved for children. We do not want to start from scratch or early stage – it is a different model, it requires much more resources, and the likelihood of failures is obviously higher - we want to use some benchmark, which we can compare too. This makes our development process much shorter; we need fewer studies and hence capital.

Q. What new endeavors is your company currently undertaking?

We are a newly listed company, so much focus this year is obviously to establish the complete organization, knowing it will be an evolving process and that we do not have the funding to get all on board from day one – this is not easy, as we are ambitious and want the best people, while at the same time must acknowledge that we are still a small company competing with the bigger companies in terms of talent. I have always said that the split between personality and skills should be 50/50, especially for smaller teams, and still, maybe ‘personality’ has an even higher share in our case. I really want people who have a lot of ‘will’ (and not just ‘skill’). The second big task this year is initiating our development program, the clinical trial, while at the same time investigate new opportunities – the first year could be the most important in the history of the company. I believe it is a bit like with children, the early years form the child’s personality – it is the same with Cessatech.

Q. Where do you stand as a company in the current market landscape? And what are you doing to stay ahead of the curve?

We focus on solutions that really make a difference, and we stay close to our customers and partners. With a clear company pursues, it is so much easier to set a direction and try to be ahead of the game – if you have the right people on board, so people and talent are everything. We have all worked with big pharma, and we all want to do it differently, focus on what really matters. In larger organizations, it is often difficult for people to state what they are doing and for what matters…

Q. Let’s talk about your team of experts and their role at Cessatech. How did you form your dream squad, and how unique is it?

We started out as a company based on ‘innovators.’ The team had a great idea and had the first development plan (CT001) approved by EMA.  Now we need to balance it with talent that can also do the executing, planning, and follow up – ‘leadership’ is everything, but ‘management’ needs to follow – and overall, they all need a strong ‘will,’ and potentially compromise on the ‘skill,’ following the skill/will matrix mindset.

Q. How do you plan to transform your company into a future that is unfolding before you?

My strength is late-stage development and, in particular commercialization, I aspire to launch the products in the name of Cessatech – this will require a new commercialization model, a much more flexible and agile model.

Meet the leader behind the success of Cessatech

Jes Trygved is the CEO of Cessatech. Jes has 20 years of experience within the biotech- and pharmaceutical industry, incl. 15 years with H. Lundbeck in various commercial roles where he managed teams up to 100+ people. Jes is also MBA Advisor at Copenhagen Business School and Health Care Adviser at Valtech A/S. previously Jes Trygved served as Vice President at Lundbeck.

“Cessatech is a spinout project from Rigshospitalet, a project lead by experts within paediatric anaesthesia and pain treatment, who recognized a need for fast-acting and easy to use needle-free pain treatment for children.”