- Victoria Tech Journal
- Community spotlight: Axolotl Biosciences
Community spotlight: Axolotl Biosciences
Innovative Excellence (Hardware) award finalist for the 2022 Victoria Tech Community Awards.
The Victoria Tech Community Awards showcase the community of 1,000 companies and 17,000 workers who push innovation forward, and drive the city’s $4 billion tech economy. Our spotlight series highlights award finalists and winners so you can get to know them a little bit better. Read about other community members here.
Today, we're featuring Dr. Stephanie Willerth, CEO of Axolotl Biosciences.
Describe your company:
Axolotl Biosciences provides high-quality reagents for 3D-bioprinting human tissue models to academic researchers and industry. We were founded in 2020 as a spin-off from my internationally recognized research lab at the University of Victoria, and our founding team was all women.
What problem is your company solving and how is it solving it?
Stem cells are delicate and often die during the bioprinting process due to the forces exerted on them. We have developed a novel bioink formulation for 3D-bioprinting human tissues derived from stem cells, which greatly expands the potential applications for this technology.
What’s a recent milestone or breakthrough your company is proud of?
We were very excited to be the only Canadian startup to win the prestigious Falling Walls competition held annually in Berlin. Only two companies were selected from North America and I was the only woman CEO to pitch at the event. It demonstrates how internationally competitive the bioink technology developed by Axolotl is. We are also excited to be part of the inaugural Advanced Therapies cohort of Creative Destruction Lab.
What makes Victoria a great place to build a technology business?
I'm speaking with a huge bias, but the University of Victoria produces incredible talent and we have benefited from this expertise at Axolotl.
What is Victoria tech’s biggest hidden secret?
We have a growing biotechnology sector — ask Sam Mercer at Vancouver Island Life Sciences about it!
What is your number-one Victoria tech prediction for 2023?
I think we will continue to see more interesting innovative companies being spun out of the University of Victoria.
What local tech company or product excites you the most right now?
I think what Notch Therapeutics is doing for cell therapy is quite exciting. Their Senior Vice President of Corporate Development, Greg Block, is a local. Also, Ryan Douglas has an interesting start-up, DeepWell Therapeutics, using video games for therapeutic applications.