ITMO’s Technopark Resident Company Takes Best BioTech Innovations Prize in Hong Kong.

The ATG Service Gene, company-resident at ITMO’s Technopark won in the category "Best Innovations" in the field of biotechnology at the SmartBizExpo in Hong Kong. In addition, the company won three gold medals in pharmacology. Ilya Dukhovlinov, Director of Science at ATG Service Gene told ITMO.NEWS about the most memorable moments and the generous Hong Kong investors.

A few words about SmartBizExpo: this is an exhibition of innovative technologies for business. This means that the exhibition attracts investors who want to improve or expand their business by implementing innovative solutions. The event is organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), which has been supporting Hong Kong trade companies and service providers and promoting them at global markets for the last 50 years. The Council has about 40 offices around the world.

In other words, the exhibition gathered promising technologies that primarily interested investors from Hong Kong and the Asian region: VR and AR technologies, Internet of Things, robots, drones, autonomous transport technologies, blockchain, 3D printing, marketing and branding solutions, accounting, HR, biotechnology and much more.

"Hong Kong has a very developed banking sector; many companies-investors in the Asian region have their head offices there. So, the city actively offers investment worthy of high quality products. Hong Kong is committed to leadership in innovation and is investing in unique technologies. So, at the exhibition, while approaching us, investors said: "Sell us what no one else ever has." Therefore, the fair serves as an excellent platform for promoting the product to international markets," comments Ilya Dukhovlinov.

Ilya Dukhovlinov

The ATG Service Gene company works at the pharmaceutical market and develops the technology of gene encoding of proteins responsible for therapeutic processes in the human body. Using this technique, genes are introduced into human cells that encode proteins. The fact is that sometimes the body can’t produce the necessary proteins in sufficient quantities because of illness, injury or other such factors. In this case, the DNA introduced into the cell compensates for this, and the body starts producing the missing compounds. For example, the company has already developed an analgesic based on this technology. The DNA encoded into the cell encodes endorphin, a protein responsible for blocking the pain. When the body is weakened, it can not independently produce endorphins in sufficient quantities. The company also uses technology to prolong a wakeful state, accelerate regeneration, develops methods for treating cancer. More on ATG Service Gene here.

In addition to all mentioned above, ATG Service Gene recently began using the same technique to create drugs for the treatment of infectious diseases: tuberculosis, pneumonia and influenza. The company holds international patents for all developments. The company also developed a drug that promotes adenosine triphosphate (ATP) synthesis in the cells of muscle tissue and the nervous system. This chemical is mandatory for energy production. Thus, thanks to the drug it is possible to promote body endurance and the ability to recover after severe stress. The company's executives also see good prospects in its application for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

The medicine is a regular capsule, which contains a new derivative of creatine, a nitrogen-containing carboxylic acid, which participates in energy metabolism in the human body. In the course of chemical synthesis, a phenyl group was attached to the creatine, thereby obtaining a large penetrating ability of the molecule to enter the cells and carry out the synthesis of ATP. Thus, the new drug is a modification of creatine, notes Ilya Dukhovlinov.

ATG Service Gene Production

"All the medical certifications of this drug are completed, it is considered to be a dietary supplement. This is a real product that has already reached the sales stage. Federal Medical Biological Agency of Russia (the agency which oversees the training of Olympic athletes) got interested in this innovative supplement, as well as many athletes. This is an idea that has gone through all the existing stages from R & D to commercialization. So now we want to rent a lab at ITMO in order to expand the production of the drug. This is a very important precedent, when a budding R & D turns into a real production: the product is in demand, and at the university it is possible to create a drug for the Olympic athletes," he then adds.

The new biologically active supplement was also presented at the exhibition in Hong Kong where ATG Service Gene got many investors talking, including investment funds from China and other regions of Asia. However, the company is thoughtful when it comes to choosing partners because the wrong investor, according to Ilya Dukhovlinov, can "kill" the project. So, the company cooperates only with those businessmen who understand the pharmaceutical market or have experience and expertise in investing in pharmaceutical companies.

ATG Service Gene received three gold medals for its innovative products, an international jury cup for the best innovations in biotechnology, and a diploma from the Iranian inventors' society for the best innovation at the SmartBizExpo. In total, about 500 innovative companies participated in the exhibition. The jury, which evaluated the projects of the participants, included specialists from different technological and scientific fields, including Nobel laureates (among them - Masatoshi Koshiba, laureate of the 2002 award), with whom Ilya Dukhovlinov managed to talk and who invited ATG Service Gene to an international exhibition in Japan.

SmartBizExpo in Hong Kong. Source:

Members of the experts committee could approach the exhibitor at any time and start asking questions about the product. At the same time, the experts didn’t necessarily have a badge showing they were a jury member; so the exhibitors had to keep themselves on their toes for all the three days of the event and try to answer the questions as fully and as adequately as possible. Besides, the jury could remotely monitor any stand and note whether it is interesting for visitors and investors, what questions are asked to developers and how they react. All of these was taken into account when evaluating companies.

"The exhibition had all factors which contributed to its success: great dynamics, friendly atmosphere, openness, where all participants could communicate without any obstacles. For example, the director of the International Association of Inventors attended the event, and he was very active, constantly negotiating with people, he was interested in the products of the participants. And there were many such energetic and interested people at the exhibition. It seems to me in general, it's easier to work with the Chinese investors. They like to learn new things, they are more open. If you are looking for investors, for example, in the US, then there is more formal attitude to this, and from a legal point of view it is more difficult to do business there," Ilya Dukhovlinov elaborates.

He recommends SmartBizExpo to all other residents of  ITMO’s Technopark. This is an opportunity not only to present your product and see what other companies in the same industry are doing, but also to get acquainted with developments in other areas. Indeed, now many projects are developing at the junction of several spheres. SmartBizExpo also hosted seminars from representatives of investment funds, businessmen and major developers.

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