Winner of the third phase of the 2020 Munich Business Plan Competition: Neurevo.
© Baystartup / Andreas Gebert

Neurevo Wants to Revolutionize Treatment of Neurological Diseases

Neurevo won the third phase of the 2020 Munich Business Plan Competition. That’s reason enough to ask some detailed questions about the work conducted by the Munich startup.

Munich Startup: Please introduce yourselves.

Neurevo: We are an international founding team with qualifications that are very complementary. Francisco Pan-Montojo from Spain is a specialist in neurology and our project leader. Yanina Dening from Argentina studied molecular biotechnology and her main focus is on researching cell cultures in vitro. Alexandra Chovsepian from Greece studied biology and neurosciences and has a PhD in neurobiology. She is our expert for in vivo experiments. Jochen Rheinwald, as our business administration graduate, brings economic expertise to the team and, as the only “German native,” lends a helping hand now and again when it’s necessary to correct German texts.

The Neurevo founding team. (Photo: Neurevo)

Munich Startup: And what do you do exactly?

Neurevo: We have discovered two neuroprotective substances that have been successfully tested as treatment in in vitro and in vivo models of strokes, Parkinson’s and ALS (note from editor: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). We also know the mechanism of action of both substances, and on that we have built the two pillars of our business model: a) Developing these promising substances into approved treatments – the classic drug development process; and b) Using the knowledge about the mechanism of action and our own screening process to identify further medical applications.

Munich Startup: What is new about your approach?

Neurevo: There is currently no causal or protective treatment for neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease or ALS or strokes. That means there is no treatment for the cell death of neurons that are specifically affected by a disease. Neurodegenerative diseases are usually only treated symptomatically, which means only the symptoms are treated, but not the cause. We have discovered substances with a neuroprotective effect.

Munich Startup: What challenges have you already had to overcome?

Neurevo: Our first major challenge was raising money through funding programs (such as the Bavarian FLÜGGE Program or the EXIST Transfer of Research Program of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs) to continue developing the substances. Now our biggest challenge is finding investors so we can conduct expensive clinical trials and put the treatment on the market.

“With research, we’re increasing our valuation”

Munich Startup: How is business currently going?

Neurevo: We are proud to report that we have received 2 million euros in grants so far, which reflects the great deal of confidence in the project and the team. Apart from that, we can’t talk about how “business” is going in our case but rather about how research is going, because with research, we’re increasing our future valuation and becoming interesting for investors and the pharmaceutical industry. In terms of research, we can say it is going very well, and each additional successful experiment confirms that we should carry on.

Munich Startup: What do you think about Munich as a city for startups and research?

Neurevo: From a strategic point of view, it’s beneficial to be close to research institutes that specialize in biotechnology and startup hubs where relevant events are held, or were held before corona, that make it easier to exchange ideas with others or hire qualified employees.

The greater Munich area, particularly in the south west near Martinsried, is one of the most important regions for biotechnology companies and experts in Europe. That certainly makes it ideal for founding a company for drug development and to also have lab and office space there.

Revolutionizing the treatment of neurological diseases

Munich Startup: What do you plan to do next?

Neurevo: We need strong investors by our side to embark with us on the journey to a clinical “proof of concept.” Once we have demonstrated the efficacy of our substances in combatting brain cell death in people with neurodegenerative diseases and strokes, we will be able to revolutionize the treatment of neurological diseases. That’s also what our slogan says: Neurevo Revolutionizing neurological treatments.

Munich Startup: Last but not least: Is your corporate philosophy based more on security or risk?

Neurevo: There’s no success without risk, at least in a business sense. But we are developing drugs that we want to test on people, which means security in terms of people’s health is always our priority.