First 2 TU Delft pre-startups granted within DSM NL Kickstart Fund

In 2020, DSM NL established the Kickstart Fund to support the ecosystem around Planet and the Biotech Campus Delft. With a total annual budget of 200 k€, the Fund supports activities in three categories:  pre-startup support, startup support and ecosystem support. The funds are coordinated by Planet 

The objective of the first category is to support TU Delft pre-startups with strategic value to the Biotech Campus Delft to reach Proof-of-Principle, so that these pre-startups are better positioned to access other funding sources.  

Last December, two pre-startups from Delft University of Technology were the first that were granted an amount of €50.000,- from the Fund to support their Proof-of-Principle activities.  

We sat down with Maria Cuellar-Soares, Science and Technology Officer at Planet and coordinator of the DSM NL Kickstart Fund, to learn more about the grantees, the fund’s criteria, and how you could apply for it.  

What have you seen so far from the grantees? 

They are two pre-startup initiatives originated at the Department of Biotechnology of TU Delft. The first one, from the research group of Dr. Yuemei Lin, consists of producing biomedical compounds with microbial communities. This is a spin-out of their research on aerobic granular sludge for waste water treatment, so it is very exciting to see how the insights obtained from years of experience in such systems can be booked for novel applications. With this grant, they will further develop the process at lab scale, to generate data for their techno-economic assessment, and to generate sufficient material for pharmacological testing of the compound. 

The second one, from the research group of Dr. Martin Pabst, uses metaproteomics for rapid monitoring of microbial consortia processes, with potential applications ranging from waste water treatment to human microbiome. Conventional proteomics generates complex data at very low throughput, while their novel approach is based on smart target selection. With this grant, they will test the approach on waste water treatment consortia, and will assess the potential for other applications.    

Why should a pre-startup apply for the DSM NL Kickstart Fund? 

It is often difficult for a pre-startup initiative to generate the proof-of-principle. This type of work is not easily financed from academic grants, while it is often a requirement to access other grants and to protect the IP. We are proud to have now an instrument that enables this crucial step. And this is not only limited to the grant: the pre-startup initiative can benefit from Planet's ecosystem to meet eg experienced entrepreneurs and experts in their field.  

What does Planet look for in an application/proposal?

We look at three main criteria: The thematic fit with Planet, Biotech Campus Delft, and/or DSM; the commercial and technology readiness; and the quality of the proposal. 


What about the other categories of the Kickstart fund? 

While the pre-startup support is exclusive for initiatives originating at TU Delft, the startup support and the ecosystem support are aimed at promoting collaboration between the startups part of Planet and other parties in our ecosystem: knowledge institutes, other startups, etc. Many initiatives are possible!  


Are you in doubt whether you are eligible to apply for the DSM NL’s Kickstart Fund? Contact our Science and Technology Officer, Maria Cuellar-Soares, to receive more info.