3D bioprinting for customizable tissue

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✍️ Notes from the Editors

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Feeling hungry for a steak. How about we print one?

Sounds weird to think about, but what’s even weirder about futuristic meat printers is that like any printer, they need futuristic meat ink to operate.

FoldInk is fulfilling a need in an emerging market. It’s promising, and we’re excited to see what’s next. 🥩

By the way: we’re both going to be in NYC for Tech Week, June 3-7. We’re not running any events, just giving you an inside scoop into what’s happening. If you’re in NYC and will be at some events, reply and let us know—we’ll swing by to say hi!

- Arek and Ethan 🦄

3D bioprinting for customizable tissue

FoldInk is building material, called bioinks, which are used to print real tissue. Scientists take the bioinks from FoldInk as inputs into 3D printing technology and use them for applications like medical research, cosmetics, and lab-grown meat. The company offers two primary bioinks: hydrogel and freeze-dried. Hydrogel bioink requires less stringent preparation and is much more customizable to the specific tissue use case and better used for innovation, whereas freeze-dried bioinks are more consistent and reproducible.

🔗 Check it out:

💰 Business Model

FoldInk’s primary product, its biomaterial that can be used to 3D print customizable tissue, is sold directly to customers such as scientists and researchers from its website.

📈 Traction and Fundraising

  • Raised total of $290k ($250k in angel investments and $40k in grants)

  • Currently have bioinks available for purchase

📖 Founder Story

FoldInk has three co-founders: Emmanuel Ghandilyan, Hamlet Khachatryan, and Vahan Grigoryan. All of them have medical backgrounds, having received their MDs from medical school. FoldInk, originally started as a research project in 2018 in Armenia, pivoted to become a business in 2021 after the team connected with Gevork Sarkisyan, a serial entrepreneur who is now a member of its board. Since then, they’ve been working in a research-intensive space and have been blending that with a focus on marketing, sales, and go-to-market as they try to bring customizable tissue printing to their customers.

In partnership with Ryse

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💼 Opportunities

None listed, but you can reach out to the team to learn more.

🔮 Our Analysis

Bioprinting is the use of 3D printing technology to create real, functional tissue. Similar to its non-3D counterparts, bioprinting is accomplished with an ink called “bioinks,” which FoldInk specializes in building. Think of FoldInk as providing the paper and ink to a printer: it supplies the materials that modern 3D printers use. 

While tissue engineering has existed for years, bioprinting has only been around for about a decade. With that, there is both an abundance of opportunity and a chance to be the first mover in this space. However, there is also a large amount of journeying into the unknown. Technically, for bioprinting to work, the tissue must have the right viscosity and survivability, which requires research and innovation. FoldInk looks to solve this with its customizable, ready-to-use materials for specific tissue needs.

Doing this efficiently and at scale in a new space brings many logistical and pricing challenges. This is why as a company, it is very focused on research and development and, now that it has created a few prototypes and has some paying customers, is shifting its focus toward sales and customer acquisition, with a focus on selling to professionals working in medicine and research. 

FoldInk isn’t like a traditional tech startup that I would learn about or cover on Unicorner: given its DeepTech nature, it has to operate as both a business and a research group. But what really sets it apart is its research focus on biotechnology, which brings its own set of challenges, given that it is more regulated than software since lives and general health are at stake. On the other hand, FoldInk operates in a very cutting-edge space with an endless amount of real-world applications, such as cosmetic testing, cancer research, and alternative meats. If it can become the primary player in the space, there will be no shortage of demand for its technology as well as a wide breadth of use cases. 

With a founding team that has strong medical research backgrounds, FoldInk has a solid foundation and is now shifting toward business growth. The team’s expertise and clear niche in bioprinting give them a significant opportunity to become a major player in the budding industry.

📚 Further Reading

Written by Matthew Huo

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Nothing in this email constitutes investment or legal advice. Readers should conduct their own research before making investment decisions.