From the left: Emanuele Ostuni, ARTBIO CEO, and Anders Tuv, Managing Director at Radforsk. Photos: ARTBIO and Thomas Ekström/ Radforsk.

What does it take to make it?

What does it take to make it for new biotech companies? We are looking for answers, digging into the legacy and environment surrounding successful start-up companies like ARTBIO.

One of the newest members of Oslo Cancer Cluster is the clinical-stage radiopharmaceutical company ARTBIO. On their webpage, they present the company in these words:

ARTBIO is redefining cancer care by developing a new class of alpha radioligand therapies (ART) and building the ecosystem that maximizes their potential.

We first wrote about ARTBIO in an article presenting the newest members in January. Here, we can read that ARTBIO is shaped by a long-standing scientific legacy with nearly a century of pioneering work in radiation therapy conducted at the University of Oslo and Norway’s Radium Hospital.

What is this legacy all about, and what kind of environment is optimal for successful start-up companies like ARTBIO to grow up in?

The answer appears to be fourfold.

The obvious part: financing

Part of the answer for ARTBIO is the tremendous financing round that raised USD 90 Million in December last year, for progress in the pipeline and isotope technology development for a new class of alpha radioligand therapies. The news of the company raising this amount from private investors made headlines in the Norwegian newspaper E24. How was this possible in today’s slow and skeptical market?

“There are several reasons why we managed to raise one billion NOK in the series A investment. The first one is that ARTBIO is a very attractive investment case with a differentiated technology and pipeline within radio pharmacy, which is a field that is receiving a lot of attention internationally”, said Anders Tuv.

He is Managing Director at Radforsk, an early-stage evergreen fund dedicated to oncology. Radforsk is one of ARTBIO’s founders.

In the latest investment round Boston-based venture capital fund Third Rock Ventures was the main investor, together with an undisclosed healthcare fund and existing seed lead investors F-Prime Capital and Omega Funds, according to a press release from the company.

The crucial part: the right people

“Even though it is crucial to have the right technology as a foundation, it is a must to have the right people and teams. And on that note, we have hit the bull’s eye with ARTBIO”, Tuv said and added:

“The company has been rigged the right way to see it through and succeed with realizing their potential in a global competition.”

Tuv especially mentioned the hiring of ARTBIO CEO Emanuele Ostuni as a key success factor, who was also the first full-time employee. He is described as bright, tenacious, and with a compassionate drive to succeed for patients.

To the question what do you think it will take to get to the next milestone? Ostuni answered:

“Our goals all involve doing things that have not been done before. As such they require creativity, collaboration, and practical optimism.”

Ostuni added:

“We are working to start a phase 1 trial this year. That will require a working technology for P212 isolation and a robust process for manufacturing the therapeutic product. We are also working to create a broader pipeline of programs that addresses patient needs – several of these programs should also move forward this year.”

The historical part: the legacy

So far, we have touched upon the company’s technology, the people, and the financing. What about this long-standing scientific legacy that we started with?

Anders Tuv explained:

“The scientific founders behind ARTBIO are the same people that developed the only alpha-emitting radionuclide treatment on the market so far (Xofigo), the legendary researchers and founders Roy Larsen and Øyvind Bruland.”

Tuv added:

“I think that both the seed round and the series A round in particular have shown that we have worked hard and done many things right with ARTBIO. We got international specialist investors and founding CEO Emanuele involved at a very early stage with Roy Larsen and Øyvind Bruland, and F-Prime and Radforsk have been active investors, building the company and heavily involved from the beginning. We have been thinking globally from the start and extracted talent where they were to be found.”

This is the reason why ARTBIO has offices in Boston, Basel, London, and Oslo.

The part of the environment

Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park and Incubator, and the entire Campus around the Radium Hospital, including Radforsk, offer an environment for companies like ARTBIO to begin their journey, especially in radiopharmacy and precision medicine in cancer.

“We have a strong legacy and a good ecosystem for radiopharmacy in Oslo, including the Radium Hospital and the environment in Oslo Cancer Cluster”, Tuv said, and Ostuni agreed:

“We appreciate the availability of flexible space that is already partially equipped at Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator – it allowed us to get started quickly when we were building the company.”

“The culture of openness and support at the Radium hospital also made sure that we could establish collaborations with academic groups and progress some programs while at the same time providing educational opportunities for female scientists”, said Ostuni.

So there you have it; the somewhat complex answer to what it takes to make it – at least through the first serious financing rounds.

About ARTBIO and Radforsk

ARTBIO’s approach: Alpha radioligand therapeutics (ARTs) are gaining attention as a promising experimental modality for delivering lethal radioactivity directly to cancer cells. The unique ARTBIO approach selects the optimal alpha-precursor isotope (Pb-212) and tumour-specific targets to create therapeutics with the potential for the highest efficacy and safety. ARTBIO is currently advancing multiple pipeline programs with lead program AB001 first in human trials.

Radforsk is engaged in the commercialisation of cancer research. Our goal is to develop better cancer treatment – for all patients. We invest in and develop infrastructure through Radforsk Innovation and companies through Radforsk Invest. Radforsk Invest is an oncology focused investment fund dedicated to developing immunotherapies, precision medicine and radiopharmaceuticals. The fund has an evergreen structure allowing flexibility and focus on investments that will create long-term value. Radforsk Invest`s model is based on very active ownership as investors and hands-on company builders. Radforsk’s portfolio of companies spans from early start-ups to public companies with products on the global market. For more information, please contact Anders Tuv, Managing Director Radforsk Invest (




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