Our history starts a long time ago. It actually started in 1874, when pharmacist Morten Nyegaard established an agency for pharmaceuticals in Oslo. This was the start of the pharmaceutical industrial history in Norway, which we want to continue.
The idea and concept for Catapult Life Science was developed in the period 2012 – 2016, partly based on experiences from GE Healthcare’s Pilot Plant in Oslo. This was a small mini-factory tailored for projects in a phase when the laboratories and test tubes were too small. Pilot Plant had some spare capacity and opened up for external companies to be able to access the facility for their product development. One of the companies was Polypure, who placed their own equipment in the facilities, where they could make the first step in their process of creating tailor-made PEG-based spacers for the biotech industry. Another customer was Omegatri, a startup company that developed dry powder from fish oil, and who needed space for equipment that was larger than a legacy kitchen machine from the 70’s. In Pilot Plant they found upscaling expertise and infrastructure, 400 Volt connectors on the wall, compressed air, and boiling water from a hose.
The experience from the collaboration in the period from 2011 and onwards, resulted in three of Catapult Life Science’s entrepreneurs, Erik Agner, CEO Polypure, Arne Aabye, head of GE Healthcare’s Pilot Plant, and Astrid Hilde Myrset, former CEO of Omegatri, together deciding to explore the potential of the concept they had already tried, as a general concept for this industry. The goal was to establish a “Catapult Centre” for life sciences.
After numerous meetings with authorities, public funding organisations, potential customers, supporters and other stakeholders, the vision was presented in a 2-minute pitch in the newly started Life Science Cluster (later established as The Life Science Cluster, TLSC) in December 2015. Present in the audience was Kristin Schoultz, head of the production unit at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, which had been decided to be closed down by the summer of 2017. Kristin had been working hard to enable further production capabilities of drugs for clinical studies in Norway. Bjørn Pedersen, who had long since established Diatec Monoclonals who develops and produces antibody-based drugs, was also present. These two there and then decided to join forces with Arne, Erik and Astrid, in order to realise the vision of a catapult centre for life science product development.
Together, these five enthusiasts are the entrepreneurs behind Catapult Life Science. Our common goal is that Catapult Life Science will, over time, be able to carry out all types of services that we together have competence for, so that new projects can be helped by the competence we and our networks have in product development. In this way, we hope to create industrial activity that can at the same time benefit patients who desperately need new drugs to live healthier and longer.
With support from Oslotech (The Innovation Park in Oslo’s operating company), Sintef, Curida and Sanivo Pharma, the company Catapult Life Science AS was established in June 2016. In the period since, a number of additional shareholders have joined in. These include IFE, which develops and manufactures radiolabelled drugs, GE Healthcare, with its experience in product development and production, and Vitas with expertise in chemical and bio-analysis. The technology transfer offices in Oslo (Inven2), at Kjeller (Kjeller Innovation) and in Bergen (BTO) have joined in as shareholders. In addition, a number of enthusiastic individuals and smaller businesses have helped fund the company to date. Our owners form a team of volunteers for the life sciences in Norway, and their contributions have been crucial for the business to be in full operation today.