Pedro Correa de Sampaio founded Neobe with Annelise Soulier in April of 2021. Neobe started as a collaborative effort between Deep Science Ventures and Cancer Research UK, aimed at addressing unmet needs in oncology. 

This initial support from Deep Science Ventures and Cancer Research UK facilitated the engineering of a prototype and the generation of proof-of-concept data. Collaborations with the Barts Cancer Institute, coupled with an Innovate UK grant and participation in the Accelerate@Babraham programme, offered critical early stage support in helping Neobe quickly scale. Subsequent pre-seed investments and the development of a second prototype marked a phase of growth, complemented by a strategic move to the Lab Hotel at the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst.

Transitioning to its own laboratory space and expanding to a team of five, Neobe accumulated substantial proof-of-concept efficacy data. This success led to the filing of the company’s first patent and garnered interest from pharmaceutical companies. The journey continued with an Innovate UK Investor Partnership grant and ongoing seed investment efforts, setting the stage for future milestones, including Series A fundraising in early 2025. Neobe has developed a live biotherapeutics engineering platform, using synthetic biology to program safe strains of tumour-colonising bacteria to break down local barriers to immune cell infiltration and facilitate immunotherapies in non-responding cancer patients.

Despite progress, fundraising remains a persistent challenge for Neobe. Non-dilutive funding, particularly from Innovate UK, has played a crucial role in the company’s early growth. As an early-stage company originating from outside the academic realm, the team generated data from inception, allowing them to retain full ownership of their intellectual property. Strategic collaborations have been pivotal, with support from entities like Innovate UK and the European Research Council validating their approach and facilitating discussions with investors.

Neobe is prioritising focus on R&D and product development with a view to eventually expanding in the near future. North America will be the first area of opportunity. Establishing partnerships with pharma and biotech companies, particularly in the immuno-oncology space, makes up a majority of Neobe’s future roadmap. Neobe is looking to explore global opportunities through R&D and innovation partnerships and has recently been included in the Innovate UK Global Business Innovation Programme to Canada.

Neobe’s scaling journey has not been without its challenges. Financial trouble as a result of inflation and ballooning energy costs have presented some bumps in the road. Energy costs and the impacts on the energy grid, particularly during the 2022/23 winter was particularly tough, with huge consequences for Neobe’s monthly overheads. The additional collateral of this was seen in the steep rise in the price of delivery and transportation. Neobe’s business model means that most of their safety and efficacy experiments are conducted either through academic partners or overseas subcontractors. With the latter, the dramatic increase in shipping costs significantly impacted Neobe’s R&D budget. 

Looking ahead, Neobe’s future growth centres on demonstrating the potency of its lead product and forging partnerships with pharma companies. Manufacturing processes and team expansion will be paramount, with a keen eye on regulatory approval and generating significant efficacy data. The US market is Neobe’s initial target, setting the stage for potential expansion and fundraising. As Neobe grows, talent acquisition becomes both a priority and a challenge, especially in R&D and process development. Leadership expansion, particularly in manufacturing, process development and clinical operations, is on the horizon. Seeking support for traction in the US and engaging with US-based investors will be crucial for Neobe’s Series A raise.

Rooted in research-heavy therapeutics, Neobe emphasises the importance of affordable laboratory space with key equipment. Platforms like Accelerate@Babraham and the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst have been instrumental, not just in infrastructure access but in fostering a network of founders and investors. This support has propelled Neobe’s growth and positioned them for future collaborative opportunities.

Neobe’s story illustrates how Britain’s scaleups continue to innovate with ambition in spite of difficult global headwinds.

Pedro Correa de Sampaio, CEO at Neobe