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Bernat Olle, CEO Vedanta Biosciences
Bernat Ollé

Co-founder, CEO and member of the Board of Directors at Vedanta Biosciences

Bernat Ollé holds a degree in Chemical Engineering from Rovira i Virgili University and is now living in Boston, where he did a PhD in bioprocesses at MIT. He went on to work at a venture capital and start-up group (PureTech), where he helped found companies like Follica Biosciences and Vedanta Biosciences, which he has led full-time since 2015. In 2013, he was named best young innovator in Spain by the MIT Technology journal and in 2015 he won the Princess of Girona Foundation award in Business.

Bernat Ollé: "A start-up isn’t the right place to play politics: be clear and direct”

12.06.2017

Vedanta Biosciences is developing a new class of drugs whose main active ingredient is consortia of bacteria. These drugs colonize the human intestines and modulate the intestinal microbiota (the community of trillions of bacteria that live in the intestines). Since the company was founded, they have been working to develop candidates for cancer and infectious, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

 

Why did you want to be an entrepreneur?

Being an entrepreneur is just a means to work on problems and technology that interest me. There are many issues to be resolved in the field of medicine that affect many people around the world. Of these, some can be resolved in the middle term using technological breakthroughs with the right funding and team. And of these, there are a few I think I can help with because they fall in fields that I know well.

What is the most important strategic decision you’ve made so far?

It’s difficult to choose just one. Choosing the right people to accompany me on this journey, perhaps. It has been important to work with a group of scientific co-founders who, in my opinion, do the best research in our field. Finding colleagues with drive that complement my areas of expertise, as well.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Be clear and direct. A start-up isn’t the right place to play politics. If you have something to criticize or fix, don’t bite your tongue. Criticism is fair play if it’s done with respect and a view to solving the problem. This helps create a culture in which people say what they think. Everyone feels they have a voice and help resolve issues in the company.

And now what? What milestones do you want to achieve in the short term?

This year we’re starting our first clinical study in patients infected with Clostridium difficile. It is a serious problem because, if they don’t respond to antibiotics, the risk of death increases exponentially and there aren’t any good alternatives. Then we’ll launch another clinical study on ulcerative colitis. This is also a serious problem because patients treated with steroids or antibodies are at risk of developing deadly infections as they are immunosuppressed. In both cases, we think that modulating the intestinal microbiota may be a viable alternative to current medical treatments.