Nadia Skandrani is the co-founder and CEO of TissueAegis, a French biomedical company developing an innovative medical device for the storage, transport and quality control of human tissue grafts. Founded in 2017, TissueAegis is the result of several research and development in a public research laboratory and the first application covers corneas.
We had the pleasure to interview Nadia who shared with us the idea behind TissueAegis, the challenges with creating a company with a medical background and the role of women in entrepreneurship.
- How was the idea behind TissueAegis born and what steps did you have to take to make it real?
Having a PhD in Biotechnology, I worked as a Postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Tijani Gharbi in the Nanomedicine Lab at the University of Franche-Comté, France. I was responsible for the biological validation of devices used to transport and preserve skin and cornea. In 2015, as part of a project with Dr Gharbi, we developed a new system to test drugs against tissues.
The idea of transferring this research work to the industry came when the European Commission introduced a new regulation to preserve and transport human tissues. Therefore, the new approach of a system for corneal graft preservation was validated and, based on that, extensive applied R&D work has been performed. The result was the invention and filing of a patent for the preservation and transport of Human Tissues, followed by a spin-off creation.
In order to continue the development of our medical devices, we decided to get closer to the scientific and clinical experts of the Institut de la Vision in Paris and benefit from their optimal medicine environment. We were incubated within the incubator Voir & Entendre until 2020.
- How did you experience creating your company with a mainly medical background? Did you have to learn new notions about business development?
Before creating the company, our project was accompanied by an incubator specializing in innovative healthcare startups. I have benefited from several business training courses and management. I also plan to attend an MBA next year.
- How do you think TissueAegis will grow in the next ten years? What are the biggest learnings you and your team have gained?
Our ambition is to become leaders in the preservation and quality control of tissue grafts whether they are human or artificial grafts. Our innovation consists in proposing a unique device that not only makes it possible to preserve human tissue in the best physiological conditions but also to transport it without taking the risk of damaging it. This solution could potentially be applied to the conservation and transport of stem cells which constitute a challenge for researchers today.
- How can we empower women in healthcare to bring their ideas to the startup stage?
Negative stereotypes of women as entrepreneurs have become deeply rooted, even in developed countries. Changing stereotypes is therefore central to evolving how both women and men are able to operate in society and the economy. This is a responsibility that touches every facet of people’s lives, from what they see and experience at home, to what they learn at school, and how they are treated at work or on the street. Everyone has a role in shaping those stereotypes.