20-05-2020

News roundup

A startup from Groningen making international headlines and more. Check out our latest news roundup:

Groningen biotech startup lands sizable investment for COVID-19 test

Biotech startup ViroTact has secured funding for its portable test that can detect COVID-19 within 30 seconds. Venture capital firm Carduso Capital said it has “given a substantial financial injection to accelerate development and time to market.” The startup even made international headlines! According to the Telegraph, funding secured from Carduso and John Molina of U.S. firm Molina Healthcare is thought to value the firm at up to £10 million.

ViroTact is part of Detact Diagnostics, a life-science company based in Groningen, founded by former trauma surgeon Joost Gazendam in 2014. The company is using platform technology to develop its point-of-care test CoviTact, which identifies COVID-19 through the presence of an essential virus-coded protease in a patient sample.

It works by adding the ViroTact near-infrared quenched substrate to samples of saliva or bodily fluid. If the essential virus-encoded protease is present, near-infrared light is emitted, which can be identified by a handheld detector. The funding is being used to accelerate pre-clinical trials of the CoviTact smart molecule detection system, so the business can provide comprehensive data to prove its effectiveness. It is expected to take around eight weeks to complete development work.

Good news for employees working from home

Last month, entrepreneurs Mark Vletter (Voys) and Joost Diepenmaat (Moneybird) wrote an opinion piece on Sprout about how employers have pretty limited options when it comes to financing equipment for employees working from home. By law, an employee should be provided with all the things they need to work in a healthy and safe way. But employers are limited in what they can buy for their employees who are now forced to work from home. Employees shouldn’t have to pay for a new desk, a chair or even internet bills at home themselves, Vletter and Diepenmaat argue. "It should be a business expense.”

In part because of their opinion piece, VNO-NCW (the Dutch employers federation) has successfully lobbied to double the work related expense tax scheme, from 1.7% to 3% of taxable wages. That means employers now have a bigger budget to help pay for the things people need to work from home.

Crowdynews founder working together with biggest walking event in the Netherlands

Entrepreneur Edwin Kuipers founded his new startup e-Routes, a platform for recreational routes worldwide, designed to make daily healthy exercise accessible and attractive. He also announced he will be working together with the Avond4daagse, the oldest and biggest walking event in the Netherlands, with over half a million kids joining every year.

The platform already has more than 73,000 registered users and that number is currently growing with around 250 new users a day. Also in today’s COVID-constrained society, where people still want to get away from it all and often visit parks, nature reserves and beaches in large numbers, eRoutes offers a nice added value. Routes are generated from one’s own home, which automatically creates a Corona responsible dispersion of recreational walks. Last month, venture capital firm Carduso also decided to invest in the startup, to enable eRoutes to accelerate the development and growth plans. This involves automated enrichment of routes with, in particular, cultural-historical information, points of interest, museums and restaurants.

Photo credit: Deon Prins

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Over €500 million euros applied for bridging finance for startups, scale-ups and innovative SMEs
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Over €500 million euros applied for bridging finance for startups, scale-ups and innovative SMEs

Since its opening on 29 April, more than a thousand startups, scale-ups and innovative SMEs have applied for a Corona-OverbruggingsLening (COL) or the Tijdelijk Overbruggingskrediet Programma innovatieve Start en Scale ups (TOPSS). These companies together account for the employment of almost 12,000 FTEs. The companies apply for more than 500 million euros in total via one of the two facilities.