m4 Award winner smartbax completes seed funding of EUR 1.2 million to develop innovative antibiotics against multi-resistant bacteria

smartbax Team: Dr. Elisabeth Karg, Dr. Sylvia Varland, CEO and co-founder Dr. Robert Macsics, Simona Schindler (standing from left); Scientific Advisor and co-founder Prof. Dr. Stephan Sieber, Dr. Eric Juskewitz, Entrepreneurial Advisor and co-founder Marco Janezic (sitting from left). © smartbax

Munich-based biotech company and m4 Award winner smartbax, which develops next-generation antibiotics, has closed a EUR 1.2 million seed financing round with Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund (BIVF) and High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF). With this, smartbax has raised a total of 1.9 million euros so far.

With the new capital, the company will advance its preclinical studies on small molecule antibiotics and expand its scientific team to further develop its innovative research platforms and find new solutions against multi-drug resistant pathogens.

In contrast to classical anti-bacterial agents, smartbax's product candidates act via a unique, dual-targeting mechanism. This not only inhibits essential processes in the energy metabolism of multi-resistant bacteria, but also creates a stimulation of the bacteria's protein secretion, which leads to the cells' self-digestion.

"The growing number of multidrug-resistant infections, which are already responsible for 1.3 million deaths worldwide each year, highlights the urgent need for new approaches to treat resistant infections. We believe that our differentiated approach will enable us to overcome the limitations of currently available antibiotics and thus develop effective therapeutics against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria," said Dr. Robert Macsics, CEO and co-founder of smartbax.

smartbax was founded in 2021 by Dr. Robert Macsics, Marco Janezic and Prof. Dr. Stephan Sieber and supported by initial start-up funding of 700,000 euros from the BIVF. The scientific foundations of the company are based on outstanding research results of Prof. Dr. Sieber's working group at the Technical University of Munich (TUM). These have already been honored with the VIP+ Validation Award of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and in 2019 the m4 Award of the Bavarian State Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy. The m4 Award is coordinated by BioM and supports innovative products, technologies or services of young companies that decisively advance the further development of medicine of the future. The prize is awarded every two years. A total of 30 research projects have been honored in the six rounds of competition to date. 14 spin-offs have been realized since then.

"The innovative mechanisms of action explored by smartbax may open new ways to combat severe bacterial infections. The approach also appears promising to overcome existing resistance mechanisms and makes a rapid spread of new resistances unlikely. I am pleased that we can accompany the scientifically strong team of smartbax on their journey to address a highly relevant societal challenge," comments Dr. Angelika Vlachou, Partner at HTGF.

"The development of novel antibiotics represents a valuable contribution to the fight against multi-resistant bacterial infections. The founding team of smartbax is pursuing a highly innovative approach, which offers the potential for broad applicability in numerous diseases. We are pleased to accompany smartbax in its further research activities and thereby support the development of new and urgently needed therapeutic approaches in the field of bacterial infectious diseases," said Dr. Sebastian Kreuz, Investment Manager of the BIVF.