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Avencia Sánchez-Mejías

Co-founder and CEO of Integra Therapeutics

Avencia Sánchez-Mejías is the co-founder and CEO of Integra Therapeutics. She has a solid scientific background in clinical genetics, molecular oncology and synthetic biology. She has spent her career at research institutes associated with university hospitals in several countries, including Spain, the United States and Singapore. In recent years, she has focused on transferring the knowledge generated at these institutions to society, through entrepreneurship.

“It is important not to lose sight of how important what we do is, and let this motivate us and push us to keep working”

05.05.2021

Integra Therapeutics is a spinoff of Pompeu Fabra University that is developing a gene-editing technology platform. The company believes this tool will take us into the next generation of advanced therapies, combining the precision of CRISPR systems and the efficiency of the integrases that have evolved naturally in order to introduce DNA into the genome. This would allow them to edit the genome to treat diseases that currently have no cure.

The entrepreneur participated in the first edition of the Pitch Training Program, a specific program that helps projects and startups to improve their presentation to investors, corporate ventures and scouts in the life sciences and health sector. The call to participate in the second edition of the program is open until all places are taken.

Why did you want to be an entrepreneur?

Because we need safer, more efficient therapeutic responses to treat patients with genetic diseases. Plus, I think it is essential that we take advantage of the opportunity to return to society the investment made in public research institutions and knowledge research.   

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

Maybe the decision to set up the company. Creating a company too soon or too late can mean wasting resources or missing out on opportunities. The key to success in this adventure surely lies in choosing the right travel companions.

Tell us about something you would have liked to know before setting up the company.

That it is a long process, a long-distance race, with better days and hard ones. I think it is important not to lose sight of how important what we do is, and let this motivate us and push us to keep working. In my case, to make Integra Therapeutics a reality.

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

To have a clear goal of what we want to achieve as a company and find investors who share our vision and passion for what we do. A company like Integra Therapeutics needs investors that, apart from financial support, get involved and contribute the experience we need to reach our goals.

What strategy or tactic do you use at work that is also helpful in other areas of life?

Both in my professional and personal life, I try to communicate my needs clearly and assertively. This saves you lots of conflicts, internal and with others. On the professional side, this makes for more decisive teamwork.

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

In the short term, we want to get the resources necessary to do cutting-edge science and technology development in Barcelona, which will allow us to compete with biotechnology companies in the rest of Europe and the United States. 

We also want to validate the potential of our gene-editing platform to treat diseases that currently have no cure.