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Shaping tomorrow: the story of the organ transplant start-up, Orgavalue


Growing organs in a bioreactor was considered science fiction in the not-so-distant past. However, this could become a reality in the present.  

A Portuguese start-up, alumni of EIT Jumpstarter, is developing a revolutionary solution to eliminate the organ donor waiting list by recycling the organs of deceased people. 

Nowadays, 40 people die each day waiting for an organ. Furthermore, 54 per cent of people in queue develop another disease, such as cancer, autoimmune conditions or infections, due to the taking of immunosuppressors.

The World Health Organization estimated that less than 10 per cent of the global organ transplantation need is met. Moreover, only a small number of countries have high transplant rates per capita. In contrast, the majority of countries fail to meet their populations’ organ replacement needs, and even so, 25 per cent of these people need a re-transplant in five years. 

But there might be a solution to the need for organs

Although we are in dire need of organs, 28 000 organs are discharged as medical waste every year despite their function and biocompatibility. Imagine if, instead of waiting for donors, we could salvage these discharged organs and repurpose them to meet the cellular requirements of patients’ bodies, thus avoiding organ rejection and severe immune reactions. 

The Porto-based start-up Orgavalue is doing exactly that. Harnessing tissue engineering, stem cell technology and cutting-edge medical devices, they craft bespoke human organs for transplantation. 

One 'wash', tremendous effect 

Using organs of dead people that would otherwise become medical waste, they wash out the cells from these discharged organs with a gentle detergent. At the end of this stage, they get a clear matrix, an anatomically precise organ scaffold, a structure that they can infuse with new viable cells from the patients themselves, and create a personalised, transplantable organ in as little as one month. This process is cost-effective and scalable and enables the organ to be accepted by the patient’s body. 

At the moment, the start-up is focused on livers. However, their technology has the potential to be scaled to other organs, such as lungs, pancreas, hearts and kidneys. The next step for them is to validate their product and implement it in the market in three years. In one year, they would like to get their medical device certification. 

Orgavalue comprises a team of five with expertise in medicine, stem cells, tissue engineering and bioethics. 

From an idea to a start-up

The journey started with the EIT Jumpstarter programme in 2022 when they were only a team with an idea without a business plan or a funded start-up. During the programme, they received financial support and mentoring. After taking second place in the Health category at the EIT Jumpstarter, they continued their journey by funding a company, and the next year, they joined and won the EIT Health InnoStars Awards. Currently, they are semi-finalists in the EIT Health Catapult programme.  Once again, the support from the EIT Community provided them with crucial funding, a wealth of networking opportunities, expert mentorship, and enhanced visibility within the health innovation ecosystem. This has led to financial and strategic investments from both the private and public sectors. 

I totally advise people to apply for any programme from EIT Health, especially InnoStars, because InnoStars is the middle point where start-ups can actually take the idea, and launch the proof of concept into an implementation plan to go to market. I think that the mentoring, the bootcamps and all the people that support the programme are simply amazing. It’s a very good programme to enhance your entrepreneurial mindset and also to take the next step to put your solution onto the market.

Rodrigo Val d’Oleiros e Silva, CEO and Founder of Orgavalue 

Apply for the 2024 EIT Jumpstarter programme now!