Combating cancer

Serial entrepreneur Roy Hartvig Larsen continues to support the development of innovative cancer treatments through his latest startup, Oncoinvent

Photo: Jon Hauge / Aftenposten Øyvind Bruland (left), is Chief Medical Officer of the company Roy Hartvig Larsen (right) founded. Here they’re seen working together as professor and student in 2011.

Photo: Jon Hauge / Aftenposten
Øyvind Bruland (left), is Chief Medical Officer of the company Roy Hartvig Larsen (right) founded. Here they’re seen working together as professor and student in 2011.

Rasmus Falck
Oslo, Norway

The Norwegian startup Oncoinvent is developing therapeutics to combat various cancers, and they are now conducting preclinical documentation studies. The main mechanism of their products is the delivery of tumor-cell killing doses of radiation. Radioisotopes are combined with carriers for optimal delivery of injected doses for treatment of cancers.

Behind the startup is serial entrepreneur Roy Hartvig Larsen. In 1997 he was the main founder of the biotech company Algeta and served as managing director and later chief scientific officer from 1997-2006 and was also a board member from 1997-2003. The company marketed the first alpha particle emitting radiopharmaceutical for cancer treatment. In March 2007, the company went public on the Oslo Stock Exchange. The product received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in 2013 to treat castration-resistant prostate cancer, symptomatic bone metastases, and unknown visceral metastatic disease. Algeta and Bayer AG had anchored a development and commercialization deal for the product (Xofigio) in September 2009 with a total deal size of USD 800 million, and in December 2013, Bayer offered a full acquisition of Algeta for USD 2.9 billion. The deal was completed in March 2014.

Hartvig Larsen went on to become one of the founders of Nordic Nanovector in 2009. The company leveraged expertise in targeted cancer therapy from the Norwegian Radium Hospital. In 2010 the first patent application was filed for their main product. The next year the first fulltime employees were hired. In 2013 the venture fund Health Cap invested NOK 50 million. Last year the company raised NOK 575 million in gross proceeds when listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange; no other European biotech company has raised so much equity capital when introduced on the stock exchange. In 2014 the main products patent was approved in the U.S. Hartvig Larsen was the chairman on the board from 2009 to 2014 and a member of the board until 2016. At the presentation of the company’s results for the second quarter this year, the CEO commented that the first half had been very positive for the company and that it continues the positive momentum of 2015.

Hartvig Larsen’s latest startup, Oncoinvent, successfully completed a private placement last spring. The share offering was directed towards the company’s existing shareholders and a limited number of private investors. The issue was oversubscribed and provided NOK 15 million. The company was priced at NOK 77 million and 48 investors participated. The proceeds will be used to build manufacturing capacity for the clinical development program of the company’s lead compound, a new alpha-therapeutic designed for local treatment of micrometastases. The company will further use the funds to expand its activities and acquire the additional human resources required for preparations of its first clinical trial.

Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his masters degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo, Norway.

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 4, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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