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A green nursery for biotech rooted in the Scanian soil

Red Glead has established itself as one of Lund’s largest companies in pharmaceutical development. Life Science Sweden went to Skåne and met two of the founders, Johan Evenäs and Martina Kvist Reimer.

12 years ago, AstraZeneca announced it would close down its research in Skåne. 900 employees, many of whom were highly trained researchers, were informed that the Swedish-British pharmaceutical company would no longer be in the Lund area. Some employees started crying when the then CEO Anders Ekblom delivered the news.

However, Lund has reclaimed its position as a life science city. The research park Medicon Village is now on the site where Astra was previously located, populated by nearly 200 biotech, medtech and other companies that wotk with life science.

One of the companies that took part from the beginning when Medicon Village opened in 2011 is Red Glead Discovery, which offers contract research services.

We wanted our name to reflect our connection to Skåne, and the red glead is Skåne’s landscape bird,” says Martina Kvist Reimer, Executive Vice President at the company.

She is one of seven former employees at Astra Zeneca who founded the company in 2011. The company is one of the fastest growing in Medicon Village and has grown from 7 to 55 employees since its inception.

Johan Evenäs, the CEO and also one of the founders, is pleased to note that the company has been named a gazelle company by the Swedish newspaper Dagens Industri as many as five times.

Red Glead tests and profiles pharmaceutical molecules on behalf of primarily biotech companies but also for pharmaceutical companies and academic research groups. A typical case could be a biotech company developing a drug that has come to a standstill, and the drug molecule does not have the properties it intended to have. In such a situation, Red Glead can help with modifying the substance, and also with producing a new alternative molecule.

Life Science Sweden visited the company’s office and their nearby laboratory. In the Ketonen room, some researchers talked about a new CNS drug they will help develop on behalf of a North American company. Inside the lab next door, researchers were working on a cancer drug, also on behalf of an American company.

The majority of our income comes from foreign customers, even though the Swedish customers are more numerous,” says Johan Evenäs.

Founded by 7 researchers

Red Glead Discovery was founded in 2011 by 7 researchers who previously worked at Astra Zeneca in Lund. The founders were: Johan Evenäs, Martina Kvist Reimer, Jessica Larsson, Joakim Larsson, Mahtab Azimi, Thomas Brimert and Mia Gränse. In 2014, the company merged with Pepticon, founded by Karolina Lawitz. In 2016, Red Glead graduated from the SmiLe Incubator.

Johan Evenäs and Martina Kvist Reimer emphasise the importance of working sustainably. Martina says that Red Glead has had its emission targets for the company’s greenhouse gases approved by the Sciences Based Targets Initiative, and they are thus one of approximately 1,900 companies in the world to set scientifically based climate targets in line with the Paris Agreement. So far, few other life science companies in Sweden have done so.

Look, we are practically the only Swedish biotech company on the list,” says Martina Kvist Reimer and shows an Excel sheet on her computer.

It is important to us that the patients will ultimately benefit from our medicines, but it must be done without us destroying the planet in the process,” says Johan Evenäs.

In addition to the commitment to an environmentally friendly business, Red Glead is also committed to being a nursery for researchers at the universities and colleges in Skåne.

AstraZeneca was previously a natural route into the business world for students from Lund in subjects such as molecular biology and biochemistry. Since the pharmaceutical giant withdrew from Skåne just over a decade ago, other companies are now carrying the torch.

Red Glead is in contact with the institutions that provide education in medicinal chemistry at Lund University and Lund University of Technology. The company is also involved in various ways in undergraduate and postgraduate courses, and students often contact the company on their own initiative.

There are rather few companies here to turn to in an early stage of your career, so they are delighted if we just answer their emails,” says Johan Evenäs and explains that several of those who work at Red Glead today come from the city’s universites.

Artikeln är en del av vårt tema om News in English.

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