Schia Ventures nel capitale di CellPly


La SPV costituita da un gruppo di investitori di area parmigiana rafforza il round di una delle aziende più all’avanguardia nel settore delle terapie cellulari

Parma, 25 Gennaio 2022 – Schia Ventures ha partecipato all’aumento di capitale sociale di CellPly, startup bolognese fondata nel 2013 da Massimo Bocchi e Roberto Guerrieri, founder di Silicon Biosystem e inventore della tecnologia fingerprint acquisita da Apple.

Con un investimento di 810 mila euro Schia Ventures accresce in modo rilevante l’aumento di capitale di CellPly guidato da LIFTT e dai soci di Italian Angels for Growth (tra i primi a credere nelle potenzialità delle tecnologie della società nel 2014 tramite il veicolo Mind37 srl) e portandolo ad una raccolta totale di oltre 2.8 milioni di euro. Il round, che ha visto anche la partecipazione di tutti i soci che già avevano investito nell’azienda, ha lo scopo di portare sul mercato una piattaforma di analisi che intende rivoluzionare la caratterizzazione di terapie cellulari ed immunoterapie.

Inizialmente focalizzata sul business diagnostico, CellPly si è successivamente specializzata nello sviluppo di strumenti per supportare la ricerca e sviluppo terapie innovative, con un focus sul segmento delle terapie cellulari, un mercato in crescita esponenziale che vede oggi più di 1.300 clinical trial attivi (il tasso di crescita rispetto all’anno precedente è di oltre il 40%) e più di 2.000 prodotti in via di sviluppo. Il target è rappresentato dalle aziende farmaceutiche e dalle cliniche che stanno sviluppando nuove terapie e cell factory nel settore delle terapie cellulari e dell’immuno-oncologia.

La SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle) con sede a Parma, è stata costituita su iniziativa di Pietro De Nardis – venture capital investor in diverse importanti start up italiane ed internazionali tra cui Everli, Shopfully, Algolia, N26, BeMyEye – che ha coinvolto, per l’occasione, un qualificato gruppo di investitori privati tra i quali Emilio Attolini, Andrea Casalini, Alberto Guiotto, Marco Massini, Emanuele Preve, Annalisa Sassi, Simona Torre, AGFM.

«Per noi di Schia Ventures – spiega De Nardis – l’investimento in Cellply rappresenta una straordinaria opportunità di partecipare e contribuire alla crescita ed alla affermazione di tecnologie di avanguardia in un settore ad altissimo impatto sulla salute, affiancando idealmente con Parma la strategia di innovazione regionale nel mondo healthcare».

CellPly si colloca nell’area di sviluppo più all’avanguardia dell’oncologia: l’immunoterapia che è destinata a cambiare profondamente la terapia e la cura dei tumori nei prossimi anni.

«Siamo molto soddisfatti di avere raccolto ulteriore interesse da un gruppo così rilevante di investitori. L’ingresso di Schia Ventures è per noi molto importante – riporta Massimo Bocchi, CEO di Cellply – poiché ci permette di accelerare lo sviluppo e l’immissione sul mercato di una tecnologia che riteniamo possa avere un forte impatto sulla ricerca e sviluppo e, a seguire, sulla produzione di terapie che sono destinate a rivoluzionare il settore oncologico».

Two million Euro round for Cellply to revolutionize the characterization of cell therapies


LIFTT, IAG partners, Indaco, Meta Ventures and Recomec invest in CellPly

The objective of the investment is to bring to market the biotech company’s exclusive proprietary technology that enables in-depth analysis of the effectiveness of cell therapies in oncology.

Bologna and Turin, December 14 – CellPly, a company specializing in pioneering life-science analytical tools, closes a total round of 2 million euros to bring to market a solution for cell analysis supporting the development of cell therapies in oncology. The new investors include LIFTT with a contribution of €800,000 and Recomec. The partners of Italian Angels for Growth, with €700,000, Indaco and Meta Ventures are also re-investing in the company.

The goal of the investment is to complete the development and bring to the market an innovative analytical platform to deeply characterize immune cells engineered during development and production of cell therapies and determine functional properties that cannot be measured with state-of-the-art technologies. Cell therapies have the enormous potential to not only treat, but to cure cancer patients. However, their development is complex as the cells withdrawn and re-injected into patients after genetic modification are not always effective and present heterogeneity among different cells within the same cell therapy lot, posing concerns to regulatory agencies and resulting in the need to advance potency tests carried out in quality control before product release. Even more, their adoption is slowed down by the high cost (up to more than €400,000 per patient) due to the lengthy research and development and the significant manpower needed for production and quality control.

Cellply proposes itself as a game-changer in overcoming these challenges thanks to its ability to generate a comprehensive characterization of single immune cells within a cell therapy lot, offering a tool to accelerate research and development and generate a release test within quality control that is highly representative of the real efficacy of the product.

The primary feature of Cellply technology is the ability to identify subpopulations of cells which appear phenotypically similar but present strong differences from a functional point of view. The platform precisely quantifies the number of active cells, i.e. “killer” or “super killer” immune cells that are able to attack and eliminate cancer cells. The second feature is the ability to combine the functional data with data obtained by multiple single-cell assays to characterize cytokine release and immunophenotype on each individual cell.

Cell therapies represent an exponentially growing market that now features more than 1,300 active clinical trials with a 40% growth YoY. Target customers are biopharmaceutical companies and clinics that are developing new cell therapies for cancer treatment. Cellply unique technology is protected by a strong IP portfolio of 7 patent families and over 50 patents filed in various countries.

The project relies on a multidisciplinary founding team with successful entrepreneurial experience, composed of CEO Massimo Bocchi PhD and Roberto Guerrieri PhD, who had successful exits which included a trade sale of Silicon Biosystems to Menarini, and was inventor of the fingerprint technology acquired by Apple. CellPly is located in the most advanced area of development in oncology: immunotherapy, which is destined to profoundly change cancer therapy and treatment in the coming years.

The solution proposed by CellPly offsets the risk of research investments by pharmaceutical companies, as well as increasing the likelihood of therapeutics success for the health of patients: “We want to offer to biotech and pharma companies and clinics developing new cell therapies a tool that can reduce development time, costs and risks – explains CEO Massimo Bocchi. Our team has developed a unique combination of robotics, microfluidics and artificial intelligence technologies to enable a massive screening of the interactions between immune and tumor cells with single-cell resolution while ensuring an unprecedented ease of use. Our ambition is to make such a complex characterization available not just in the R&D but also in quality control during manufacturing and in the clinical settings, raising the bar in terms of depth of information that can be evaluated in these contexts. The goal is to create a “Cell Pass”, a tool that allows monitoring the potency of the product during the development and production and after administration to patients. Monitoring the immune system function has a huge relevance in the cell therapy and beyond, with a potential impact on the development of immuno-oncology therapeutics.”

Great satisfaction from Guido Panizza, Head of Project Management at LIFTT: “The solution that we want to bring to market with CellPly has the opportunity to unlock the positive potential that cell therapies can offer in the fight against cancer. These therapies have shown the ability to cure cancer, but we need to make these treatments sustainable and therefore accessible to all patients who need such treatments. To date, there are several cell therapies under development, but they involve long lead times, low reproducibility, and a large number of specialized technicians for production and quality control. This also translates into a high risk of failure that is not acceptable either for the patient, because very often we are talking about patients in serious conditions with no margin to try another therapy, or for the pharmaceutical companies that produce the therapy.”

Giovanni Tesoriere, CEO of LIFTT, who has specific expertise on the subject by virtue of his past with Stefano Buono in the development of an oncology drug in AAA, later sold to Novartis, comments: “In line with its vision LIFTT invests in projects that result in important positive externalities, and never before as in this case we have seen how the solid business prospects of CellPly are interconnected with a clear collective benefit. LIFTT’s intervention is important because the CellPly project is important, as it can open up a decisive perspective in the fight against cancer: a platform that in a few hours is able to give precise information on the characteristics and degree of effectiveness of immunotherapies is a great help not only for biotech and pharmaceutical companies but also for the healthcare system, doctors and patients.”  

Antonio Leone, Past Chairman IAG and Champion in this investment: “The members of Italian Angels for Growth were among the first to believe in CellPly in 2014, as it was a project of great importance in the oncology area. CellPly has demonstrated over the years to have a team with high-level skills and commitment. It is a project that honours Italian scientific research and entrepreneurship. This capital increase confirms our confidence in CellPly’s growth path and in the development of a business which has the opportunity to introduce a radical change in cancer treatment”.

Davide Turco, CEO of Indaco “We have believed from the beginning in the potential of Cellply technology, investing with the Atlante Seed fund, and have followed step by step the team which, thanks to its extraordinary skills and commitment, has succeeded over time in developing a technological response to the growing market demand in the field of quality control for cell therapies.  The entry of new qualified investors such as LIFTT and Recomec now represents an important accelerator in the development of the Cellply platform“.

About Cellply

Cellply is a biotechnology company that develops analytical instrumentation using a proprietary single-cell Co-Culture Array (CCATM) technology for the in-depth characterization of the functionality of individual immune and tumor cells. Initial applications involve measuring the potency of both autologous and allogeneic cell therapies (e.g. CAR-T, CAR-NK) and of antibody-based immunotherapies with a level of detail not achievable with existing technologies. The technology allows to measure in-vitro cytotoxicity and serial killing of tumor targets by single immune cells correlated with a measure of the phenotype and cytokine secretion by each cell. A fully automated “all-in-one” analysis tool integrating ​sample preparation, cell culture and analysis, is offered to biopharma companies, CDMO’s and research institutes to accelerate immunotherapy and cell therapy R&D and monitor the potency of the product in quality control during manufacturing. – Contact:


LIFTT is a “not only profit” company that aims to offer an innovative, dynamic and modern vision of Venture Capital applied to Transfer Technology with a strong focus on the impact on the Italian territory. Founded by the Polytechnic of Turin and the Compagnia San Paolo Foundation (the largest banking foundation in Italy) and chaired by entrepreneur-scientist Stefano Buono, LIFTT promotes an ethical business model inspired by ESG and boasts to date 115 private and institutional investors, including Fondazione LINKS, Compagnia di San Paolo and CRT, in the process of capitalizing at least €90M by 2024. The company has raised €28M to date and has completed 18 investments in innovative start-ups and SMEs, from a pipeline of over 1000 companies, operating in all market sectors. – Contact:

About Italian Angels for Growth

IAG, founded in 2007, is a leader in the Italian seed venture capital: more than 270 protagonists of the entrepreneurial, financial and industrial world that invest time, skills and capital for the growth of innovative startups. Italian Angels for Growth, in more than ten years of activity, has analyzed over 6,500 startups and its members have made over 100 investments, for a total of over 300 million euros invested by IAG members and co-investors. The IAG business angels support innovative projects financially by investing their own capital, but at the same time, thanks to the mix of skills of the members, support the founders of the startups in the definition of the business model in all its aspects. – Contact:

Cellply wins the €300k Gaetano Marzotto prize and Unicredit StartLab prize

ROME, ITALY, November 22, 2018:

Cellply has been awarded with the prestigious Gaetano Marzotto prize and received an €300,000 grant and an assistance programme from the CUOA Business School. The award ceremony was held at the MAXXI museum in Rome. The Company Prize awarded to Cellply comes after a tough selection process, as more than 600 companies applied to the competition.

During the ceremony, Cellply was also awarded with the Unicredit StartLab Special Prize, a programme providing coaching, training and support to high-tech startup companies.

The jury selected Cellply for the motivation, high competence and commitment of its team having the ambition to make a change in the way cancer patients are treated worldwide and in speeding up the drug development process. The project, if successful, will have the potential to demonstrate the quality and value of Italian research and entrepreneurship.

Cellply develops an innovative in-vitro diagnostic system to predict the efficacy of anticancer drugs with a personalized test that analyzes the in-vitro drug response of living cells quickly obtained from patient biopsies.

The Gaetano Marzotto prize, at its 8th edition, aims at looking for new business people and builders of the future who are able to combine innovation, business and social impact.

Cellply secures €2.34m non-dilutive grant funding from the European Commission for a novel precision oncology diagnostic platform

A new diagnostic system defines patient-specific efficacy of anticancer drugs by testing in-vitro drug response of patient’s tumor cells

Bologna (Italy) – May 24, 2018 – Cellply, an Italian medtech company specialized in in-vitro diagnostic systems aiming at supporting personalized oncology treatment, announced to have been selected by the European Commission among the winners of the prestigious Horizon 2020 – SME Instrument program, obtaining €2.3m funding for the Oncosmart project. Cellply achieved this result after a highly competitive selection process which resulted in only 64 European companies funded among 1280 applicants. The grant received by Cellply is the largest one among the 9 Italian companies funded in the last SME Instrument call and one of the largest at EU level since the start of the SME instrument program in 2014.

Today anticancer drugs are beneficial to a small number of patients, with failure rates up to 75%. The use of DNA sequencing-based precision medicine tests often produces limited improvements due to their low accuracy when used to predict treatments response. Moreover, 60-70% of the patients do not feature known genetic mutations. Cellply developed the first standardized and automated system able to predict patients’ response to more than 10 therapies tested in parallel in just 24 hours and with high accuracy. Cellply’s test results are independent from the genetic makeup of the patient or its tumor. It evaluates the in-vitro ability of anticancer drugs to affect the activity of tumor cells and induce their death. This technology is able to evaluate anticancer drug combinations at different dosing schemes and future immunotherapies testing is planned. Cellply’s platform will also support clinical trials identifying the most suitable therapeutic indications for drugs under investigation and stratifying patients by identifying non-responders in advance.

«Cellply has a great opportunity to make a pivotal change in cancer care. We are very honored to receive this recognition that will accelerate the development of our platform and its clinical validation, by involving an important network of European oncology institutes» reports Massimo Bocchi, President and CEO at Cellply. «The results we obtained during initial clinical tests on acute leukemias showed the possibility to predict the action of anticancer drugs before they are administered to patients, with a precision beyond our expectations. Our goal is to make cancer treatment individualized and allow each patient to receive the most suitable drugs selected through a predictive test run on his own tumor cells».

About Cellply
Cellply, based in Bologna (Italy), was founded in 2013 by two engineers, Prof. Roberto Guerrieri from the University of Bologna and Massimo Bocchi. In 2014 the company started the development of an in-vitro diagnostic platform allowing to isolate a tiny amount of live tumor cells sampled from patients within 20,000 microwells and analyze the action of multiple drugs in parallel by means of proprietary algorithms to predict the response of the patient to candidate drug therapies. Cellply has already secured equity funding from Italian investors, namely the business angels from Italian Angels for Growth association, Atlante Seed venture capital fund managed by Indaco Venture Partners Sgr and Ingenium II Fund from Emilia Romagna Region managed by Meta Ventures. For more information, please visit


Press contact:

Download press release (English) (Italian)

Cellply wins an H2020 SME Instrument Phase 1 grant

Bologna (Italy) – Bruxelles (Belgium), 20 October 2016

Cellply has recently been awarded by the European Commission as winner of a SME Intrsument Phase 1 grant within the Horizon 2020 programme. The ONCOSMART (ONCOlogic patient profiling and personalized treatment through SMART bedside diagnostics) project aims at developing an innovative platform for precision medicine, able to profile each cancer patient by analyzing how one or multiple candidate drugs interact with patient’s cells. The innovative test works by extracting a tumor sample and loading it in the platform readily after sampling, while cells are still alive. The ability of the drug to kill tumor cells is then analyzed and personalized response profiles are created. The platform, consisting of a lab-on-a-chip embedded in disposable cartridge, an analytical instrument and a diagnostic software, provides a result in 24 hours and aims at guiding clinicians in selecting the optimal therapy on a patient-by-patient basis and at supporting drug development companies during clinical development of new drugs. The project will allow Cellply to perform a feasibility study, explore business opportunities and regulatory issues/opportunities, identify a supply chain and set the basis for the development of a new in-vitro diagnostic (IVD) platform.