The pioneering deeptech start-up Akira Science creates innovative medical device solutions, focusing on developing a new approach to breast reconstruction surgery. Winning Silicon Vikings New Nordics Pitch Competition opened doors to connect with innovators, VC funds, and world-leading companies.
– What sets Akira apart is our patent-pending technology based on a unique, biocompatible, degradable, and three-dimensional (3D)-printable material. This technology will enable surgeons to achieve 100% soft and natural tissue regeneration, improving the physical and mental health of women who have undergone breast cancer surgery, explains CEO Álvaro Morales López.
Rather than removing the entire breast and using silicone implants, Akira's team is working on combining the latest breakthroughs in material science, tissue engineering and 3D printing to facilitate breast reconstruction surgery. Akira has emerged from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology.
How is the response from the market?
– We have received a positive response from the market so far! Our team's previous background and work done at KTH have given us the innovative and forward-thinking approach that has helped us stand out in our sector. It's amazing that we have the ability to design and provide materials with specific degradation profiles and different properties, as well as to produce prototypes that meet the requirements of different customers, he says.
They have been finding niche applications and sectors that they never thought possible before, which is boosting their motivation and opening doors to new markets. From the medical side, they're constantly consulting with experienced clinicians, and their energy is focused on moving forward to the next regulatory step.
– We're committed to providing high-quality solutions that can make a real difference in people's lives, and we'll continue to work hard to achieve our goals, says Álvaro Morales López.
You won the first prize in Silicon Vikings New Nordics Pitch Competition!
– Wow, what an incredible journey it has been! The past couple of months have been nothing short of amazing, from the events of the Silicon Vikings organized at Stockholm and Helsinki to the unforgettable experience at Slush. The prize was truly an honor, but what I value the most is the opportunity to connect with the brilliant minds of young innovators from across the Nordics and the chance to meet some of the most influential judges representing leading VC funds and world-leading companies. I must say the organization and collaborations put into these events were exceptional, with workshops and activities that helped us gain visibility and connect with relevant talent, he says.
Álvaro Morales López states that thanks to the Silicon Vikings New Nordics Pitch Competition, they were able to gain significant traction and even build new partnerships with potential investors and collaborators, with exciting new projects in the works.
– I am truly grateful for this experience and will encourage young researchers with entrepreneurial mindset to apply, he says.
How has KTH Innovation supported you?
– Our experience with KTH Innovation has been invaluable in helping us to get our business off the ground. Thanks to their support, we were able to investigate patentability, apply for patents and conduct market analysis through the VFT-0 grant. Furthermore, we participated in the pre-incubator program (batch 13), which gave us access to KTH Innovation facilities and provided us with tailored workshops, a designated business coach and an opportunity to showcase our business at demo day, continues Álvaro Morales López.
He also finds the mentor program incredibly useful, as KTH Innovation paired them with an experienced mentor in the biopharmaceutical industry who was able to provide them with guidance, support and connections.
– We still maintain a great relationship with our mentor to this day. Finally, we had the privilege of joining the Brighter program, which included a one-week program in Silicon Valley. This program allowed us to enhance existing business collaborations, meet potential investors and gain insights into the steps needed to successfully launch our business in the United States. We received outstanding support from a consultant during the preparation seminars, who helped us to reach relevant individuals and organizations that were instrumental in our success, he says.
What advice you would like to give other entrepreneurs?
– Staying curious and dreaming big are my essential ingredients. And while it's important to have a clear vision of where you want to go, it's equally important to surround yourself with a diverse and talented group of people who can help you get there. Stockholm is widely known as one of the world's top hubs for entrepreneurship, and it's easy to see why. With a wealth of resources and opportunities at your fingertips, the possibilities are truly endless. That's why I always encourage people to explore the various incubator programs available in the city - these programs can provide invaluable support and offer a fresh perspective on your ideas. I've been consistently impressed by the professionalism and openness of the ecosystem here, and I have no doubt that you'll find the support you need to thrive, says Álvaro Morales López
Anything you’re particularly proud or happy about?
– It's incredible to see my dreams slowly but surely becoming a reality. Our business is now on the path to sustainability and has an enormous potential for growth. Coming from a country where the entrepreneurial ecosystem and research field are not always on the same level, I faced some challenges at the beginning, he says.
Alvaro states the Nordic mindset and the opportunities he received have been invaluable in keeping him going.
– I am proud and grateful for the progress we have made. Most importantly, I feel a deep sense of happiness and pride in the network of colleagues, coaches, mentors and friends I have developed over the years. Without their support, this journey would not have been possible, says Álvaro Morales López
What are your plans for the future – in 2024 and in 5 years’ time?
– In 2024, I have two big milestones - defending my PhD and raising investment to start clinical investigation next year. My vision for Akira Science is to expand our team of experts, scale-up our capacities, and move into the clinical phase in the next two years. By the end of 5 years, we aim to have our AkiMed implant in the market, with CE-marking and expanding our business to different locations. But that's not all - I'm also excited about diversifying our projects and exploring new medical applications. With this, my plans are to contribute to the development of new innovations and bring them to the final patients, he says.
Which is your favourite spot in Hagastaden?
– Hagaparken, one of the best spot in the city. It holds a special place in my heart because it's the place where I trained the most for my first marathon. There's nothing quite like the feeling of running across the water, especially during the warm summer months but also special in winter when you need to prepare very well mentally. It's a great way to relax after a long day of work, says Álvaro Morales López.
On January 25, Akira Science was one of the finalists at “Årets Unga Idé 2024”, a competition organized by Företagarna. The Grand Final takes place in Gothenburg in May.