KU Leuven spin-off AstriVax raises €30 million to build vaccine platform

  • Closing at €30 million, AstriVax has raised the largest amount of seed capital in the history of spin-offs associated with Belgium-based university KU Leuven.
  • The funding round was led by V-Bio Ventures and Fund+. Other investors are Flanders Future TechFundThe capital of Thuja, Ackermans & from locks, Merieux Equity Partners (via OMX Europe Venture Fund), BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity and KU Leuven Gemma Frisius Fund.

Leuven, Belgium, 25 August 2022 Closing with 30 million euros, AstriVax has collected the largest amount of initial capital in the history of KU Leuven spin-offs. company will draw on technology developed at the KU Leuven Rega Institute to develop new vaccines that are easy to produce, have reduced cold chain requirements, and offers wide and long-term protection against different viruses and others pathogens.

The funding round was led by V-Bio Ventures and Fund+. The other investors are Flanders Future TechFund, Thuja Capital, Ackermans & van Haaren, Mérieux Equity Partners (via OMX Europe Venture Fund), BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity and the KU Leuven Gemma Frisius Fund.

AstriVax will use the seed capital to bring their first thermostable yellow fever vaccine to clinical development and to further develop their pipeline vaccine candidates – one to prevent rabies and one to treat chronic hepatitis B.

The company will also continue to build its highly innovative, first-in-class plug-and-play vaccine platform based on the groundbreaking work of co-founders Professor Johan Neyts and Kai Dallmeier, PhD, from the KU Leuven Rega Institute. AstriVax’s versatile technology can be used to develop a wide range of vaccines to prevent and treat infectious diseases. AstriVax aims to address key challenges in vaccinology, such as duration of protection and ease of production. Since vaccines will no longer require a strict cold chain, getting them from the factory to patients will be easier, even in tropical and subtropical regions.

Hanne Callewaert, PhD, will lead the company as CEO. She has over 15 years of experience in the life sciences industry, including several leadership positions at companies such as GSK Vaccines and Oxurion. She said: “I feel privileged to work with the world-renowned team of Professor Johan Neyts and Kai Dallmeier to bring to light this vaccine platform technology that has such broad potential in addressing unmet medical needs. Being funded and supported by a strong consortium of investors will bring AstriVax’s technology to clinical validation. I see this as a strong confirmation of belief in the potential of technology, team and collaborations.”

Professor Johan Neyts (KU Leuven), co-founder, said: “After more than ten years of hard work and dedication, our academic team has developed and refined a new, powerful and versatile vaccine approach. Kai Dallmeier and I are excited that AstriVax will bring our revolutionary vaccine technology into clinical development. This will greatly increase the number of people we can protect and treat against terrible infectious diseases on all continents. We are also excited to work with CEO Hanne Callewaert, with the support of an enthusiastic and experienced consortium of investors and advice from authorities in the field.”

Shelley Margetson, managing partner at V-Bio Ventures, said: “We are impressed with the quality of the scientific work that has been done by Johan Neyts and Kai Dallmeier over the last few years at KU Leuven. The transformation of academic excellence into valuable products for society through the creation of spin-out companies is at the heart of V-Bio Ventures.

Caroline Goddeeris, PhD, director at Fund+, added: “We greatly value the expertise of the founders and team at AstriVax, and we are convinced that the stable plug-and-play vaccine platform has great potential to prevent and treat a variety of diseases. through the extraordinary immune response it induces. Fund+ is honored to be part of the AstriVax story and contribute to the lives of people and patients around the world.”

AstriVax will be headquartered at the BioHub in Haasrode (Leuven), Belgium.

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Media contacts

  • For more information about AstriVax: Hanne Callewaert (PhD), CEO, [email protected] Hanne Callewaert is fluent in Dutch and English; she also speaks french.
  • More information about AstriVax can be found at www.astrivax.com

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KU Leuven

As Europe’s number one university for innovation, KU Leuven actively invests in launching innovative technologies on the commercial market by creating spin-off companies, securing and licensing intellectual property and collaborating with industrial partners. KU Leuven supports researchers and students in transforming their innovative ideas and technologies into commercial products and services that impact people’s lives across the globe. As such, KU Leuven encourages young entrepreneurs to develop a solid business plan, validate the market and build a coherent team. Since its establishment in 1972, KU Leuven Research & Development has supported the creation and growth of 149 spin-off companies, directly employing more than 7,000 people. KU Leuven’s spin-off companies constitute a major economic lever for the Leuven region. From 2005 to 2021, KU Leuven invested €21.7 million in its spin-off companies and €1.46 billion in external capital was raised. 122 of KU Leuven’s spin-off companies, the first of which was created in 1979, are still active today. Many of them have an international leadership position. Seven spin-off companies have had an Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the stock market.

Please visit http://lrd.kuleuven.be/en/spinoff for more information.

V-Bio Ventures

V-Bio Ventures is an independent venture capital firm specializing in building and financing new, innovative life science companies. V-Bio Ventures was founded in 2015 and works closely with Belgium-based VIB, one of the world’s leading life science institutes. The fund invests across Europe in start-up and early-stage companies with high growth potential, focusing on technologies that deliver transformative improvements in the biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, diagnostic and agricultural sectors. The main investor of V-Bio Ventures is the European Investment Fund (EIF). The EIF contribution is supported by InnovFin Equity, with the financial support of the European Union under the Horizon 2020 Financial Instruments and the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) established under the Investment Plan for Europe.



Fund+ is a Belgian venture capital firm that invests in innovative European Life Sciences companies developing medicines, medical devices and diagnostics, with a strong focus on patient-centric approaches and key unmet medical needs. With over €200 million in assets under management, Fund+ has built a strong track record since 2015, investing in 18 portfolio companies with two major exits. The fund is managed by a specialist team of experienced life sciences professionals with experience in the healthcare industry, corporate finance and strategic consulting, supporting companies throughout their growth cycle. The company aims to maintain a leading position in the Life Sciences sector, creating sustainable value for its shareholders and a tangible impact on society.


The future of Flanders Techfund

Flanders Future Techfund is an early-stage funding fund that wants to meet the financing needs of the early technology initiatives of leading Flemish research centers, universities and clusters, as well as private parties. Through its investments, the Flanders Future Technology Fund wants to focus on the evaluation of technology developed by Flemish companies, with particular attention to the key areas of Care and Wellbeing, Digital Transformation and Climate and Sustainability. The Flanders future technology fund has a fund of 75 million euros and can provide funding from 0.5 to 5 million euros. Flemish investment company PMV was appointed for the operational management of the Flanders future technology fund.

Thuja Capital Management

Thuja Capital Management (Thuja) manages several venture capital funds aimed at building and scaling companies in the fields of (bio)pharma, medtech and digital health. In addition to generating a financial return for its investors, Thuja’s investments positively impact the health and well-being of patients. Thuja serves doctors and patients around the world by providing capital to bold entrepreneurs with innovative product concepts in the country.


Ackermans & van Haaren NV

Ackermans & van Haaren (AvH), with offices in Antwerp and Singapore, positions itself as the long-term partner of choice of family businesses and management teams to help build high-performing market leaders and contribute to a better world stable. AvH is a diversified group operating in 4 main sectors: Marine Engineering and Contracting, Private Banking, Real Estate and Energy and Resources. AvH also provides growth capital to sustainable businesses, including the Healthcare and Life Sciences industries. At an economic level, the AvH group represented in 2021 a turnover of 6.0 billion euros and employed 22,653 people through its participation. AvH is listed on Euronext Brussels and is included in the BEL20 index and the European DJ Stoxx 600 index.


Merieux Equity partners

Mérieux Equity Partners (‘MxEP’) is an AMF-accredited management company dedicated to capital
investments in the health and nutrition sector. MxEP actively supports entrepreneurs and companies
with differentiated products and services, giving them privileged access to sector expertise and
international network. MxEP currently manages over €1 billion in assets and recently closed its latest
Venture Capital Fund, OMX Europe Venture Fund, co-sponsored by Korys.

BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity

BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity, the venture capital arm of BNP Paribas Fortis, has been active in the private equity market in Belgium for over 40 years. BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity takes minority stakes and provides mezzanine financing to medium-sized high-performing Belgian companies. In addition, BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity is active as an investor in specialized capital and private equity funds present on the Belgian market. BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity’s direct holdings include Studio 100, reMynd, eTheRNA, Quality Assistance and Konings.

Gemma Frisius Fund

The Gemma Frisius Fund (GFF) is a seed capital fund established in 1997 as a joint venture between KU Leuven, KBC Private Equity and BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity. It combines the research and technology transfer expertise of the university with the financial and investment expertise of the two financial partners. The GFF provides seed capital in the early stages of development of innovative research-based spin-off companies originating from all technology fields and supports their growth process.


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