Ax'21 - On how to save the world from future immune-mediated diseases

August 13, 2021
Written by 
Kari Sinivuori

At this very moment almost every second person suffers from diseases caused by their own immune system due to an overly clean world! The number of immune-mediated diseases like allergies, asthma and type 1 diabetes are growing at an alarming rate.

I'm Kari Sinivuori, CEO and a Co-Founder of Finnish Uute Scientific Oy. We manufacture and sell a scientifically proven microbe extract, which supports and stimulates the immune system in humans and pets. If you want to know how it works, please read to the end. Our ingredient is to be used on various consumer goods.  

Our product innovation Reconnecting Nature ™ microbial extract was developed at the universities of Tampere and Helsinki

It corresponds to a microbial community found in a rich forest and nature. I heard about an ongoing microbe study at the University of Helsinki 2,5 years ago - that soil microbes can affect human health. I became more and more interested in the subject and got to know the researchers more closely - they’re doing groundbreaking research that is fairly new to the whole research community.  They have created a new ecosystem at the interface of disciplines, immunoecology, where environmental ecology and medicine combine. At the same time, this has enabled the emergence of a top Finnish innovation. Think about that potentiality! When added as a raw material to various consumer products, such as cosmetics or clothing, natural exposure can be brought into everyday life even when it is not possible in an urban environment! It doesn't have to be drug, we can prevent diseases!

Environmental exposure is essential for the immune system to be able to train itself and maintain its operations. Until 10 years ago, this type of innovation would not have been possible since next generation sequencing was not available. Now, there is enough know-how. So, we decided to act. To build a good knowledgeable team to commercialize and sell the solution: microbe extract that stimulates and supports the immune system. We got the Pre-Seed funding from Butterfly Ventures and Norex, also Business Finland support. Also, the bank gave us loan recently. Feels good when trusted!

Our achievements so far

Now, after 18 months of hard work and long days, we've built our own factory, we have a patent for the content and manufacturing method, we've protected our Reconnecting Nature trademark and signed the contract with the European medium-large chemical distributor, Harke Group. More importantly, our amazing customers (indie cosmetic brands) have brought their first products to the market. Now there are a total of 16 different cosmetic products and more will come in the coming months. We also negotiate with several Fortune 500 consumer goods companies. The success list is long, and I couldn't be prouder of our team. Besides our (future) customers, we all share the same vision - to be able to transform our living environment to promote health and well-being through a variety of consumer products and put an end to the growing problem. This is business of course, but it is good, caring business where everybody in the whole value chain, from us to consumers and everyone in between, wins. Our goal is to make our raw material available to as many people as possible, no matter how wealthy they are. That is our driving force.

Bouncy road - or not

No startup is a startup without challenges, but they don’t feel overwhelming. One of our challenges is local industry-specific legislation. We know our own role as a raw material manufacturer: to build a good quality system that is also CE approved, if necessary. We know that our raw material needs to be safe, sterile, standardized and proving efficacy, and we work for that on a daily basis. But we've also walked an extra mile to understand the situation of our customers (BtB) and helping especially smaller players to understand their communication possibilities in accordance with existing legislation. In addition, more industry-specific concrete studies need to be done as we're moving fast into new product categories. We've also found ourselves in situations where larger companies interested in us, have simply been too slow in their decision-making. For us, time has been the deciding factor, not least because of the cash flow situation which we follow closely.

The next big thing is the upcoming funding round

We see our future in a very positive way – we need funding to spread the good news to consumers as well as for new areas of industry specific research and also for IPO as an exit possibility for our current and future investors. Most importantly - we believe in tribes. We believe in people joining together for something good. A life without immune-mediated diseases.  

So, how does microbial diversity affect our skin?  

The presence of proteins contained in microbes on our skin causes beneficial changes in our immune system. Our skin receptors monitor and recognize the structures of microbes that end up on our skin and transmit information about it to our immune system. The number of immunoregulatory T cells and the relationship between them, i.e., the ratio between IL-10 and IL-17A cytokines, become more favorable as a result of microbial exposure of the skin.   

Answers to Kiuas’s Spicy Questions

Who or what inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

This is now the second time. Finding a great idea itself is big enough inspiration and getting it to markets is an interesting challenge.

If you would get 10 billion euros right now, what would you do?

Our common problem still needs to be solved and with 10B we would move faster. People are getting sick unnecessarily, and they don’t know why. So, money would help to spread information forward. Meeting the demand and saving lives isn´t a bad thing at all. A small fraction might go to a nice sailing boat too.

Who is your favorite superhero?

My favorite superhero is our head of sales originally from Germany. His superpower is being able to speak Finnish.

If you could change just one thing in the world, what would it be?

To end the turning of clocks twice per year might be too difficult task so I would stop wars instead.

Main course at dinner, choose: a) Monkey brains with devils sauce and baby vegetables, b) lab grown steak from human cells and béarnaise with crispy fries, c) Organically grown Nepenthes Truncata salad, including tomatoes, sweet blue peppers and glowing mushrooms with a small chance to kill you instantly.

I go for C. Monkey has better use for his brains himself and bearnaise sauce is a cholesterol bomb. 

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