The first inhabitants of our bio-incubator

An interview with 272bio and Molecubes

Since the opening of our bio-incubator, two companies have joined us. Molecubes will make its permanent move by the end of April, and 272bio has already relocated and is operational in the building. To get to know our new neighbors better, we have a conversation with Karine Clauwaert from 272bio and Dieter De Planter from Molecubes. We explore the companies they work for, their experience with starting up in the new building, their connection with VIB, and more.

Hello Karine and Dieter. Thank you for taking some time to talk to us. First things first, could you explain to us what ​ 272bio and Molecubes do? What research field are you working in?

D: Molecubes develops and manufactures PET, CT, and SPECT scanners. So, medical imaging. Think of the tunnels in hospitals where patients are examined. But the remarkable thing is that we make these for the pre-clinical market, primarily for research on rats and mice. We distinguish ourselves with our compact devices that are intuitive to use, and the accompanying software is fully developed by us. Our clients are biotech companies, the pharmaceutical industry, as well as research institutions and universities. Currently, we have approximately 150 scanners installed worldwide. Molecubes aims to establish its headquarters in the bio-incubator, with a focus on calibrating, preparing, and making the equipment ready for use.

K: Originally, 272Bio is a British company, but we really want to establish ourselves in Flanders. The reason is quite simple. 272Bio is a company that focuses on applying Single Domain Antibodies in veterinary medicine. Flanders is truly at the forefront of antibody research, and there is a lot of expertise to be found here. Our goal is to start a small production unit for proof-of-concepts in the bio-incubator in Ghent. For example, we research new products such as injectables for small pets (dogs, cats, etc.), but we also look into aquaculture and poultry. In short, the R&D will remain in England, and the CMC aspect (Chemistry, manufacturing, and controls: assessing whether a product is safe, effective, and consistent) will take place in the bio-incubator in Ghent.

A compact scanner manufactured by Molecubes (© Molecubes)
A compact scanner manufactured by Molecubes (© Molecubes)

Why did you choose to settle at the VIB bio-incubator? What are, in your experience, the most critical assets?

K: VIB played a key role in the foundation of Ablynx, which is a global player in the field of antibody research. Additionally, there's the proximity to the technology park. This means that a lot of essential knowledge is clustered in one location. This creates a perfect ecosystem, which is crucial for a company.

D: The biggest advantage for us is the combination of lab and office space. Currently, we are not too far from the incubator, but our company is split. The offices are located at Ghelamco, and the laboratories are at UZ Gent. We are somewhat stretched between both locations, which is not ideal for collaboration. With the move to the new building, we can bring everyone together. Personally, I was also pleasantly surprised to see the facilities during my first visit. The bike parking on the ground floor and the "drying room" for rain gear show that VIB is truly committed to sustainable commuting. And as Karine mentioned, the ecosystem that a bio-incubator creates is very interesting. I look forward to getting to know the other companies in the building.

K: And maybe to forge new, potential collaborations. I already see an overlap between Molecubes and 272bio. Perhaps we should have a chat after this interview (laughs).

Did you have any prior connection with VIB? Do you feel the building lends itself to interaction and collaboration with the other inhabitants?

K: In the Flemish biotechnology world, everyone knows VIB. VIB is truly THE hub in the biotech network. This means that many people from different companies and research groups come here to visit, which is advantageous for other companies in the bio-incubator to also make new contacts.

D: I fully agree with that. We have already collaborated with VIB on some R&D developments, and we also recognize that VIB is a strong player in the research field. We look forward to getting to know the other start-up companies in the bio-incubator and possibly collaborating with them.

K: We do like the glass façade at the front of the building. Our colleagues often sit there, and it can indeed lead to more interaction on our floor. Perhaps interactions between the different floors might be a bit more challenging to initiate. That remains to be seen.

D: Informal meeting moments can contribute to interactions among the residents of the bio-incubator.

K: This could be encouraged by the building managers. Perhaps they'll read this interview, and it's a good moment to raise this idea. Maybe such opportunities could be created? I could definitely see a monthly happy hour happening! (laughs)

D: Injecting some life into the place!

How did you experience the start-up of the whole process? From the first contact to the actual move.

K: It went extremely easy. We had been looking for a new space for a while. VIB has the expertise to make this process smooth. Between making the decision on our end and signing the contract, there was barely a six-week period. We received a reasonable offer from VIB, so the negotiations went fast.

D: Our situation was a bit more complicated, but it wasn't due to any doubts on our part. We were sold from our first visit in September. We're a bit of an outlier because we work with radioactive isotopes. This meant that we had to convert the laboratories into a Class 2 lab. We worked closely with Wim Goemaere and Christelle Verrue on this. Despite the additional documentation involved, the process went exceptionally smooth.

Would you recommend other companies to come and settle at our bio-incubator? What would you say to companies who are looking into joining us?

K: I think it's important to mention that becoming part of the bio-incubator is a very all-inclusive experience. There are no more things you have to figure out yourself, like environmental permits, garbage collection, organizing your mail, hiring a cleaning crew, and more. It might sound trivial, but especially for smaller companies, this is a huge task. All of this was taken care of by VIB, allowing us to immediately focus on our core business after the move. No hidden things to figure out. No hassle. Just set up and start working.

D: That's right. We also experience that Plug & Play aspect. You arrive here, you set up your equipment, and you can get to work. Additionally, the combination of lab and office spaces is really ideal for us. This is something we've been looking forward to after all these years.

K: Indeed, we also experience that Plug & Play aspect. New companies and spin-offs really should not underestimate all that's involved in starting up. A whole bunch of trivial things that were taken off our hands thanks to VIB.

D: And of course, I want to emphasize the ecosystem again. We're really looking forward to collaborating with interesting companies, entrepreneurs, and like-minded individuals.

K: I can only say that the colleagues at 272bio are extremely happy to be working here now.

Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us, and we will see you around!

K: Would you mind if we stayed a bit longer? I'd like to learn more about Dieter's company (laughs).

Absolutely not. It's a great proof that the bio-incubator encourages interaction.

Interested to join our VIB incubator? Find all info here
Steve Bers

Steve Bers

Science Communications Expert, VIB

About VIB

VIB’s core mission is to generate disruptive insights in the molecular underpinning of life and to translate these actively into impactful innovations for patients and society. VIB is an independent research institute where some 1,800 top scientists from Belgium and abroad conduct pioneering basic research. As such, they are pushing the boundaries of what we know about molecular mechanisms and how they rule living organisms such as human beings, animals, plants, and microorganisms. Based on a close partnership with five Flemish universities – Ghent University, KU Leuven, University of Antwerp, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, and Hasselt University – and supported by a solid funding program, VIB unites the expertise of all its collaborators and research groups in a single institute. VIB’s technology transfer activities translate research results into concrete benefits for society such as new diagnostics and therapies and agricultural innovations. These applications are often developed by young start-ups from VIB or through collaborations with other companies. This also leads to additional employment and bridges the gap between scientific research and entrepreneurship. VIB also engages actively in the public debate on biotechnology by developing and disseminating a wide range of science-based information. 

More info can be found on


About VIB Blog

On our blog, you can find content curated by the VIB community. Discover our research through the eyes of our scientists.

Want to be kept up-to-date on our biotechnological news and stories? Join our community and subscribe to our bi-monthly newsletter here.